Oaklands College art exhibition brings new dimension to It’s OK To Say campaign

Stacey Turner, Emily Norton and Amber Giddings.

Stacey Turner, Emily Norton and Amber Giddings. - Credit: Archant

An art exhibition highlighting mental health and wellbeing is taking place next year thanks to a partnership between Oaklands College and awareness campaign It’s OK To Say.

Students Emily Norton and Amber Giddings, who are studying the Higher National Diploma course on Art and Design, have not only taken on the project of illustrating areas of the It's OK To Say website, but contributing to a forthcoming art exhibition, to be held in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week between May 18-24.

It's OK To Say founder Stacey Turner said: "It's going to be a beautiful representation through the eyes of the students. I can't wait to see the progression of the artwork in the upcoming months, as I visit the college and engage with the students."

Ruth Mitchell, who manages the HND Programme for Art and Design said: "The students have a brief starting in the new year which has the theme of art, design and wellbeing and Year 1 will be focusing on individual wellbeing. I am wanting to use the exhibition as a focus for the work they may produce, it fits really well."

Amber said: "I'm very excited to be working on this project, it's a new opportunity that will open doors for all of us, and what Stacey is doing is such an amazing cause and I am so proud to be working with her and once again thank you so much for giving us this opportunity!"

Emily added: "I'm excited to be working on this project and I'm glad to be educated on the wonderful work this team is doing."

Lauren Vassell Leighton, lecturer in photography said: "As a teacher I am aware of the importance of students being involved in community led projects that demand social change which is why we are so happy to be working with It's OK To Say. Mental health affects most people at some stage in their life, and as teachers we also see the effects it has on our students.

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"By involving them in exhibitions that promote openness we can encourage young people to understand the importance of speaking up and taking notice of your own mental health and strive to make positive changes.

"The expression of creativity allows students to achieve a sense of wellbeing which is why mental health and art are so closely linked.

"We are excited to be involved in the exhibition and feel privileged to have the opportunity to help raise awareness on the subject of mental health. We hope by exhibiting a strong collection of art works inspired by the subject we can encourage a stronger and more inclusive community and bring together young people to celebrate diversity."

So far, three departments have confirmed work for the art exhibition: art HND, photography and animation/multimedia.

Stacey added: "From the beginning, my vision for It's OK To Say was to be about us, our community, what we want, to be inclusive and to grow organically.

"We have certainly begun to do that and only want to grow so much more. I can't thank our community enough for responding to It's OK To Say, our events, articles and to those that have reached out for help and volunteered to help. The website is going to be special, an interactive tool for the user to keep coming back to check in on themselves with helpful suggestions, seek guidance if they're concerned about someone and to see regular updates with new information added all the time.

"You will even be able to grant a wish to someone who needs a lift! Soon to go live, so watch this space!

"From the bottom of my heart, thank you, 2020 is going to be so exciting."

If you'd like to be involved with the campaign email support@itsoktosay.org.uk