This week, we’re launching two new colouring books, which will be distributed across both our hospital sites and delivered to local communities this festive season. The result of a collaboration between two of our Arts for All partners; A Space Between and Mark Levin, the colouring books will provide entertainment and distraction for our patients and friends.
A Space Between is a UK-based non-profit organisation with the core mission of “making the practice of art a powerful connector, widely accessible and integral to enhancing health for people of all ages”. They roll out their programmes in hospitals and local communities by way of open-access art tables (prior to COVID-19), care boxes filled with creative material, pop-up events, educational workshops, and a digital platform. Their programmes are intended both for patients of all ages as well as healthcare workers, with distribution through wards, waiting rooms, and staff respite spaces.
The three founders came together through their own journeys in dealing with cancer, chronic illness, and mental health disorders. They know first-hand that a simple creative pause has the potential for powerful healing and launched ‘A Space Between’ in November 2019 as a platform for creative connection.
Their platform centres on accessing the space between individuals who may never meet, but share a powerful imaginary exchange; between outer and inner worlds in those moments where time gently slows its pace. In Japanese, this space is called ‘Ma’ – where our souls find room and colour for growth.
Central to their vision is a growing collection of colouring sheets, drawn specifically for the organisation, to be distributed in hospitals and the community. These bespoke sketches form the basis for a powerful exchange between the artist and colouring hand, and provide a meaningful, accessible gateway to the therapeutic benefits of art.
In light of COVID-19 and the resulting social isolation, A Space Between felt that they could mimic their original concept to extend worldwide. They therefore created an online programme through which people around the world can colour and draw for one another. The initiative – Covid-19 Connect (#colourtoconnect) – enables all to download an unlimited number of free sketches to colour in, from an expanding online gallery of sketches sent in by people in isolation. With individuals taking part from every corner of the globe and ages ranging from 3 to 80 years old, they have also received sketches from such notable creatives as the band Coldplay, fashion designer ERDEM, and renowned illustrator Jackie Morris.
Their entire catalogue of colouring-in artworks was made available to CW+ throughout lockdown for use in our staff wellbeing rooms, to help facilitate creative respite for frontline workers. The artworks have also been delivered within ‘Creative Care Boxes’, nearly 1,000 of which have now been delivered to NHS hospitals – with 300 alone organised by CW+ for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust’s two hospitals.
As a special festive project, A Space Between designed two beautiful colouring books in collaboration with our resident harpist Mark Levin. These two colouring books – one for adults, one for children – are bound together with a careful selection of artworks from their catalogue of community-drawn submissions alongside notable artists from around the world. Their selection was based on breadth of design, geography and age – making the books accessible to all and reflecting the fundamental message that there is “an artist in each of us”.
Scattered across the adult colouring book are mindfulness prompts, encouraging further exploration and creative release. Mark Levin put together a gentle harp accompaniment to the pages in music, which can be accessed via a QR code found in the book.
The children’s version of the book carries a selection of artworks submitted to A Space Between by children aged 4-13 worldwide throughout the pandemic, alongside creativity prompts. These pages are accompanied by a collection of wonderfully lyrical poems and stories written by Mark Levin. The colouring-in artwork therefore provides a beautiful illustration for the written word. All this is enhanced by Mark’s recorded narrating voice and accompanying harp, accessed by QR codes found in the book.
The books, provided by CW+, will be received by patients across both hospital sites along with with colouring pens and handmade cards written by local school pupils.
This collaboration speaks a message of kindness and the simple powers of uplifting art. With care, compassion and colourful connection, we can weave ties and keep hold of one another.