Our Charity partner UNSEEN works to end human trafficking and modern slavery.
Chaiya Art Awards helps fund this vital work by donating a percentage of all artwork sold from the 2020 exhibition at the gallery@oxo.
UNSEEN works across the UK with Government and key agencies, as well as directly with survivors; runs the UK Modern Slavery Helpline; provides emergency safehouse accommodation; supports survivors to recover from their trauma and live in freedom and safety in the community
Unseen uses art as therapy to aid recovery of survivors.
THE ART OF HEALING
by Kate Garbers, Co-Founder and Director, Unseen UK
“A relationship with our imagination is a relationship with our deepest self.” – Pat. B. Allen.
During my counselling degree some years ago, I was able to participate in a week-long art therapy course, getting lost in experimenting with different mediums. I am no artist, but I certainly lost myself in the process and found a beneficial, calm and reflective space. I especially appreciated the fact that I was not required to use spoken word, instead I expressed myself through what I was creating.
Art therapy is not art making. However, it does involve a process of creation and it relies on non-verbal expression. Both of these can be powerful tools in trauma recovery.
At Unseen we support survivors of modern slavery towards recovery from their experiences of, often horrific, exploitation. Many survivors suffer from complex trauma. English may not be their first language and finding the words to express themselves may not be something they are able, willing or even want to do. Sometimes survivors have lost, or have never even developed, the capacity to express themselves via language.
Art therapy can provide a framework for survivors, giving them a ‘language’ to express themselves, their experiences and their feelings, and a way to give new meaning and purpose to their own stories.
Some survivors will struggle to regulate their emotions, some will be triggered by talking therapies, some will struggle with mental health issues (diagnosed or as a direct result of their trauma) and some will be fed up of services asking them to repeatedly describe what has happened to them.
In contrast, art is a non-invasive offering. With creativity, there are no ‘rules’ to adhere to, and no system to navigate. Art therapy just offers the space to experiment and explore a path towards expression, healing and recovery.
At Unseen, we often see the value and benefit of therapeutic art activities for the people we support. Whether it is with residents in our Safehouses or with groups of survivors re-building their lives in the community, we know that when survivors take part in arts-based activities it gives them the opportunity to explore their feelings in creative and reflective ways.
Our partnership with the Chaiya Art Awards celebrates and supports the therapeutic value of art and the deeply important role that art can play in the process of healing.
“A relationship with our imagination is a relationship with our deepest self.” Connection with the imagination can be a transformational step in a person’s healing. Art as therapy helps survivors to process their past and importantly, to develop the courage to begin imagining a safe and more positive future.