Creativity without restraint

Drop A Stitch Drive cr Heather ChildI popped down to see the latest Expressions exhibition at Paintworks, Bristol, last week, and left with a massive smile on my face! It’s such an effusive display of the imaginations, not to mention craft skills, of Milestone Trust’s service users.

Nathan Filer cr Judy DarleyI was lucky enough to be present for the opening, when Nathan Filer, author of the Costa Book of the Year award winning The Shock of the Fall, explained his motivations for writing a book with a mental health patient as its protagonist. He mentioned his desire to put the person first and the condition second, just as he has done in his work as a mental health nurse.

It was a fantastic start to the evening, where the beauty, humour and playfulness of the items on display came before the underlying conditions of the people who made them. This was talent on display, rather than the learning disabilities, mental health needs and dementia of the hundreds of people who created them.“This is our fifth Expressions arts event, and it just gets better and better,” says John Hoskinson, Chief Executive of Milestones Trust. “This year the focus is on the creative journeys of the people who use our services, portrayed life-size in clay, cardboard, canvas, wool and words.”

At the centre of the exhibition is the knitted street, complete with a beauticians and launderette ‘The Lost Sock.’ Naturally I found myself drawn to the reading room, where people had pinned up comments about the books that most inspired them, and a rather exquisite yellow typewriter caught my eye.

Yellow typewriter

And of course, I couldn’t leave without paying my respects to the 12-foot tall sea witch!

Find out more about Milestones Trust at

Sea Witch cr Judy Darley