As we’ve been focussing on arts, health and wellbeing over recent months, we’re thrilled to have supported and to share electronic musician, Kelly Lee Owens’ latest single ‘Corner of my Sky’.
The song, from her latest and much lauded album Inner Song, features the voice of John Cale, with Michael Sheen appearing in the video. From the artists involved to the landscapes on show, Kelly’s work and approach to exploring the cross section of arts and heath gives a nod to a vision for a Wales of the future, with well-being and creativity at its heart.
As a former cancer nurse providing end of life care to patients, well-being is a part of her philosophy and the work she creates. However, Kelly’s work not only offers an opportunity for distraction and enjoyment, she takes into consideration the process of recovery too, and she recently discussed how sound can be used for health in an interview with GQ magazine (1)
One of the ways Kelly has extended her support to others who are struggling at this time is through a dedicated ‘Calm & Uplift’ playlist designed for NHS and other frontline workers, as well as anyone else who might need it. From offering some calm and an opportunity to de-stress to also providing a chance to express and release emotion through music, the playlist is designed to offer a different approach to start or contribute to the healing process.
Kelly explains her motivation behind the creation of the playlist: “Having worked with the NHS as an auxiliary nurse, and now currently as a producer/musician/artist - I’ve thought long and hard about how these two worlds of art, self-expression and wellbeing are interconnected. How one helps along the other. I feel extremely passionately about health and wellbeing and its connection to creative self-expression.
Creating is an outlet of stress bringing you closer to who you are, a place of solace for you, of rest and recuperation - a place that holds you through the darkest and hardest of moments and a place that can bring us endless and profound joy! This is what I wish for everybody in Wales to have access to and to experience more regularly.
Speaking to NME recently, Kelly explained that she hopes that the playlist “provides a sonic space for them to connect, unwind, feel held in, feel safe and know that one person is thinking about them and hoping and wishing that they find peace and can relax…It’s only a small thing, but I think a lot of stress is semantic and we store it in our body. And I believe sound can have a real transformative effect on the body and psyche. I really think music has the power to do that.” (2)
We’ve seen creativity being used for staying healthy and well in numerous examples over the past six months in direct response to COVID-19, from making to enjoying and appreciating art. We’ve also seen stark warnings of the long-term impact on mental health that this pandemic could leave us with, as shared in another recent article on our website, Participatory Arts and Mental Well-being in Times of Rapid Change.
Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh NHS Confederation have been working in close partnership for the past 3 years to raise awareness about the health and wellbeing benefits of engaging in creative activities. Through the Cross-Party Group on Arts & Health, they have highlighted examples of how the arts can help tackle loneliness and isolation, support people’s mental wellbeing and contribute to healthy ageing. In addition, the Arts Council has supported Arts & Health Coordinator posts in all the Health Boards across Wales in order to better understand and creatively respond to some of the big health challenges facing us as a nation. Covid 19 has brought this work into ever sharper focus when people and communities have been turning to creative activities as a vital source of enjoyment, connection, solace and meaning.
Kelly added “I’m so pleased that wellbeing and mental health in particular is prioritised in Wales by the Arts Council of Wales, the NHS Confederation and Welsh Government. This pioneering work is of global interest not just during a pandemic but to nurture resilience for generations to come”
Kelly’s Calm & Uplift playlist for NHS and other frontline workers, as well as anyone else who might need it at this time:
Here are links to other articles we shared earlier in the year relating to Arts for Health & Well-being:
There’s also a video discussion between Phil George and Fearghus Ó Conchúir on our amam.cymru channel