A wellbeing event at YSP. Photographer: David Lindsay

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Rachel Massey , 16.04.2018

Connecting art, wellbeing and nature

Art, creativity and nature all have proven benefits
for wellbeing – and Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) offers all three. We believe
that relationships with others, a sense of creativity, purpose and
connectedness are important, which is why all our art and wellbeing events are
designed to be inspiring, warm and sociable.


This element of our programme aims to stimulate mind, body and soul: we invite participants to relearn the skill of being idle; to escape on flights of fancy; to connect with nature and fresh air; and to invigorate their creativity. Our regular events are open to all and income generated from ticket sales helps support our wider programme, including developing projects to make our offers accessible to those experiencing social, mental, economic or physical barriers. 


Since 2016, a headline event in our arts and wellbeing programme has been art and social for the over 55s. This monthly session offers a combination of creative activities, walks, talks and artist-led events.


The events attract men and women, mostly in their 60s and 70s. Over time, participants have gained trust and confidence in the organisation and each other, and found themselves trying things they would never have previously thought appealing.


Sessions book up quickly and we have to turn people away, which is difficult. But it’s important that we keep the group to a size that feels friendly and welcoming, which enables us to get to know people, and make sure newcomers are involved.


We occasionally get feedback from people who are offended by the idea of targeting a project at over 55s but we know that many people face changes around this time of life, whether that be children leaving home, caring for older relatives, a change of career, bereavement, or looking towards retirement.

We try to combat this by programming activities that are diverse, unusual and avoid stereotypes – these transitions can bring as many challenges as opportunities.


One participant said: “I never thought I’d be building big outdoor sculptures. I was never any good at creative things, but this was just so enjoyable. We had a real laugh.”


And other said: “I look forward to this event every month. It’s a lovely way to spend two hours with lovely, talented people.”


Rachel Massey is the art and wellbeing coordinator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park