Art exhibition aims to combat mental health stigma



An art exhibition featuring portraits of people recovering from mental health conditions is to open in Cambridge.


Catarina Clifford, a volunteer artist in residence with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s Arts Therapies Service, hopes the exhibition will reduce stigma around mental health.

Her series of portraits – including Mindfulness (above) one of the first of the series - are now on display at Cambridge University Hospitals, where some CPFT services are based, until 6 April.

Catarina said: “I hope as many people as possible will take a moment to study the portraits. They are all of people who have lived experience of mental health issues, and I wanted to portray them the way they wanted to be seen.

“There are testimonies from people as well, but they are not attached to the images because I wanted to show that someone’s diagnosis cannot be assumed just by looking at an image of them."

Catarina was diagnosed with a mental health condition when she was studying photography at the Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University.

She said: “I was 19 at the time and as my mental health deteriorated, making art seemed impossible. Slowly, my life became a damaging cycle of appointments, medication and diagnosis.

“At that time I was a student, artist and a creative individual but I lost my identity and I became defined my mental health problems.”

After being discharged from services after receiving treatment, Catarina began volunteering with CPFT’s Arts Therapies Service.

“I began volunteering three days a week, working closely with the head of the service, Kimberley Iyemere, and supporting other service users and have since worked as a resident artist working on art for the environment for CPFT.

“It has been really inspiring to help and encourage them to be creative. It has also helped me regain my own creative identity, and make my own art again.

“This has all led to this exhibition. I hope the pictures show people on their own recovery journeys and will help to de-stigmatise negative attitudes towards those with mental health conditions.”

When the exhibition closes at Addenbrooke’s, it is hoped the pictures - using a variety of different styles including paint, print and digital technology - will go on display at CPFT buildings across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.


Ellie Buckle
Communications Officer
T 01223 219465
M 07984517190


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