No Words: Cultural Art Therapy in the Community

Generously supported by Bank of America

This cultural art therapy project was inspired by the Gallery’s 2023 exhibition Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker, with the aim of connecting with vulnerable and underserved audiences, and integrating the therapeutic health benefits of creativity into the Gallery’s programming. From spring 2023, the Education Department worked with Saoirse Domestic Violence Services to develop “No Words”, a sustainable programme developing a replicable methodology for connecting with vulnerable women and domestic abuse support networks, through cultural art therapy – art therapy practice which takes place in a cultural setting. 

The programme was devised in consultation and collaboration with key staff from Saoirse DVS and Art Therapist Andrea Plunkett from the outset and evolved to comprise the following strands: Offsite Art Therapy Sessions and children’s sensory support sessions in refuge settings; Art Therapy CPD Sessions for both Gallery staff and staff from Saoirse DVS at the Gallery, and a Family Day at the Gallery connecting with Saoirse DVS’s summer programming. 

Through autumn and winter 2023, a closed, art therapy group met in the Gallery’s Education Studio on a weekly basis, participants of which were drawn from Saoirse’s client base. The project will continue through 2024 as we work further to develop this methodology, sustainably embed the programme, and disseminate our learnings. The project was independently, externally evaluated, and both this report and a short film documenting the project and created by the Pimlico Project, will be made available in the coming weeks.  

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