SOCIAL WELLNESS AND ART


An Artsy Dive into Canary Wharf Residents' Community.


Drawn from a personal experience at Vertus Residences, Canary Wharf, while I attended their "Sip and Paint" event that was held last month as part of their resident members' events, I was reminded of the deep importance of spending time in the community while enjoying the holistic and wellness benefits of practicing art.


Author:Marina Pratt



Socio-Economic Impact of Arts & Culture


Investment in the arts and cultural resources can benefit local economies by supporting job growth, stimulating commerce, and feeding into the creative industries, which supports the innovation system, and attracts talent and more investment to places. Communities can benefit greatly when there is a vibrant arts and culture base, as including arts and culture in different sectors can increase education on culture, stimulate creative thinking, increase empathy with respect to others and develop an appreciation of the diversity of the human experience and cultures.


Canary Wharf, the largest financial district in London, is also home to the largest collection of outdoor public art. With over 100 pieces of mixed media, from stand-alone sculptures to integrated architectural works, the arts and culture sector of the Canary Wharf estate has shown they really understand the power that culture has to transform a neighbourhood. This introduction of public art has made the estate more inviting, and more cultural, sparking conversations and bringing the community together.


Helaine Blumenfeld, Fortuna, 2016. Bronze, 515 x 311 x 263 cm. Photo © Sean Pollock. @ Canary Wharf



Art Fosters Social Connections


In an article facilitated by UK Research and Innovation, engaging in an art class or a cultural creative project shapes reflective individuals, generating a greater understanding of themselves and their lives, increasing empathy with respect to others, and developing an appreciation of the diversity of human experience and cultures. Practicing art in public settings supports healthier and more balanced communities, bringing people together to create something beautiful that can create an impact, big or small. Art brings people together to educate, heal, grow and connect.


Helps in achieving a flow state/mindfulness


A flow state is a stream of consciousness action where the mind is so relaxed and focused on the task at hand (in this case, art) that it creates a space for not thinking about anything else. A flow state establishes a level of mindfulness and non-judgmental creativity, allowing a beautiful masterpiece to be created on canvas. This navigates ourselves away from the “monkey brain” state where we are no longer thinking about anxiety-inducing thoughts but instead allowing the mind to be present and mindful in the current moment, creating a sense of peace and well-being. Many famous artists, such as Van Gogh and Da Vinci, were known to be in deep mindfulness and flow state when creating their works of art that have kept them famous to this day.


Hymn to the Big Wheel By Liz West - Photography © Sean Pollock Photography / Canary Wharf Arts + Events /


It Activates Reward Centres in the Brain


Research shows the act of creating something out of nothing is rewarding, even if we aren’t particularly talented. This stimulates creative thinking, confidence, and an inner desire to keep trying new things - which also helps to stimulate dormant brain cells that can happen too often when we are caught up in daily regular activities. Practicing art, particularly in the community, also helps to activate reward centres in the brain through hearing encouraging words from friends and sharing positive thoughts about



It reduces stress and anxiety.

Engaging in any art activity while removing the self-judgement or fear of “doing badly” releases serotonin in the brain that helps to activate pleasure centers allowing an influx of happy feelings. According to an article on clevelandclinic.org, serotonin plays a key role in our body functions such as mood, sleep, digestion, wound healing, and bone health. Seratonin regulates the nervous system, allowing the mind and body to feel more relaxed, grounded, and content.

Engaging in an art activity in the community with friends and family can help to regulate the nervous system allowing the mind and body to feel more relaxed, centred, and content.




From a health and wellness perspective, another UK Research and Innovation article, Understanding The Value of Arts & Culture, highlighted art practice as therapy and the importance of art and design in the hospital environment as important ways in which art and culture contribute to health, ageing, and wellbeing. The Royal Society for Public Health has also recognised that ‘the involvement in creative activity and the arts in all its forms is an important component in both overall health and wellbeing of society and for individuals within it […].’

From this perspective, we can see the benefit for the corporate work environment, such as in Canary Wharf, where employees can freely sit amongst pieces of art created by highly talented, respected, and culturally diverse artists that, on a subconscious level, lower and regulate the nervous system, calm the overactive overthinking mind, stimulate creative and innovative thinking, improve productivity levels and create an ability to re-approach the day with a positive mindset and attitude.


With strong encouragement from the Arts and Culture sector of Canary Wharf to experience incredible art right at our doorstep, and with community-driven events such as Sip & Paint held by Vertus, there are many opportunities for investment, growth, and discoveries within the Arts and Culture world that can improve greater quality of the environment, community, and personal health.