Jo, who has autism, talks about how art classes in her former mining town provided relief following the death of her parents.

picture for projectStory: Artistic Spectrum: Creativity and wellbeing

“Thorne, in Doncaster, is an ex-mining community so a lot of things have been lost, but so many people here are creative and good with their hands. They need a way to express themselves.

I started coming to the sessions after lockdown when I’d felt isolated. I have autism, and I’ve always suffered from depression. I lived with my parents all my life but during Covid-19 my mum and dad died and I was on my own for the first time, which was very hard.

Originally, I asked the people running the sessions if they could do a textiles workshop as that’s something I’ve always been interested in, and then I became involved with the drawing classes. It was cathartic to have somewhere to come and meet nice people, to have a laugh.

I wasn’t very good at drawing to begin with, but I love it now. I make a lot of art about my family. I’ve taken some of the pieces I’ve drawn to my parents’ grave.

I’ve been teaching my niece to draw, and now I volunteer at the project, helping set up and provide drinks, and I even help with drawing classes, teaching people to draw cartoon characters. I did one of a local café which they now exhibit.

I’m lucky to have met so many great people through the art classes. They make me happy and I really look forward to Fridays.”


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