Island Day finished painting

RAPt is fortunate to receive support in many different ways from volunteers who freely donate their time and energy. In December 2014, Sophie Dickens, a working artist, offered her services to the Island Day Programme (IDP) in Tower Hamlets with a view to developing creative sessions for clients in treatment.

“It was a great pleasure for the IDP to be able to run these workshops with Sophie and we are so grateful to her for generously sharing her skills. It was a very new idea for staff and clients but Sophie was soon able to nurture everyone’s interest. Having such a successful artist give up her time for us as a volunteer has been a real boost to the project and to the reputation of IDP.”
Nuno Albuquerque, Deputy Service Manager, IDP, RAPt

“When I first arrived at the Island Day Programme, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard about RAPt through my neighbour who works as a counsellor and wanted to help in some way. I thought that, as a practising artist, I could encourage self-motivated creativity as a means of empowerment, as well as a great preoccupation in times of personal struggle.

As a sculptor, I thought the best way to convince clients to take me seriously was to show some of my work on a laptop. Around 25 people came along and were extremely tolerant of my PowerPoint spiel! We used it as a platform to discuss how we envisaged the art sessions would progress. I had this idea of encouraging individual projects and we went through various suggestions, including ways of hat making, felting old jerseys, creating large sculptures out of recycled materials, making models of the Olympic stadium out of matches and throwing pottery vases. I quickly realised that I might have been over ambitious – that it would be impossible to monitor multiple projects and maybe we needed to scale down our ideas!

My rethink involved introducing drawing on a large scale with charcoal and painting. Charcoal is great because it makes bold marks, which can simply be wiped away if necessary. The drawings can be fixed with hairspray, or built up for strong contrasts. We thought about making a big poster and discussed the kind of things that we would like to put on it and what it should convey. The second session involved small drawings of elements on the agreed theme of light and dark, good and bad, that were cut out so that we could assemble everyone’s ideas into one picture. We put up a huge piece of paper on the wall and started drawing.

The lovely thing about the big picture is that people have come and gone within the sessions, but have all left their mark. The cloud with hearts instead of rain drops, the rainbow, the river, the lightning (which will forever be connected with an incident involving a carpet cleaner), all of the detailed elements that make up the picture have been added to and changed, interlinked and outlined and finally painted with acrylic. It was a really great group effort, all done with good humour and a lot of artistic skill, sometimes very newly acquired!Nuno the Deputy Service Manager has very kindly rearranged the room on the second floor of IDP to accommodate the picture. It will hopefully be there long after all its creators have successfully moved on, leaving new clients to wonder about aliens, people with green hair, flying fish and digestive biscuits ……”

Sophie Dickens
Winner of The Sculpture Prize, Victoria and Albert Museum
Winner of The Owen Rowley Sculpture Prize
Sophie’s work has been commissioned by the British Museum and widely exhibited both across the UK and internationally

Pic 1

From initial sketch…

Pic 2

To a work in progress….

Pic 4

Adding the final finishing touches.

Island Day finished painting

The finished piece!

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