Mr Aaron Pilgrim has previously been admitted to hospital on a number of occasions before joining CoolTan Arts. He states that he felt more confident in his abilities as an artist after attending CoolTan Arts.
The workshop tutors gave him some pointers on publicising artwork on the internet, and he now has his own basic webpage where photos of his work are uploaded. Aaron has been involved in numerous CoolTan Arts exhibitions, which he has greatly enjoyed, and has sold three paintings as a direct result of exhibiting at CoolTan. It was during a CoolTan Arts, ‘WordPress workshop’ web designing class that he created his own website, to showcase his artwork. You can see it at aaronpilgrimarts.wordpress.com
“I suffer with mental health problems and every time I went back to work I often ended up ill and back in hospital. I have been attending CoolTan for six years (in those six years I have not been back into hospital).
First of all the main great thing about CoolTan is that you can make many good friends. I found at CoolTan it was very supportive of people like me with mental health problems, whereas some of the ‘participants’ were ‘not supportive’ at college (although I’d like to say all of the college tutors were very supportive). I found that one of the good things about CoolTan was that it doesn’t matter how good you are at art, whereas at college I found there was some snobbery and competition amongst the participants concerning the work you produced.
CoolTan are mindful of the fact that many of its users are not financially comfortable, providing art materials, use of computer programs and also the much needed tea and coffee. Also, if you say something a bit strange at college you could be ostracised, whereas at CoolTan everything is ok providing no one is hurt or offended.
“If you are ever ill there is always someone to turn to for a much needed chat at CoolTan for you to talk to concerning your illness.”
I found the staff to be well trained to do and say the right thing. In actual fact I found both the staff and users very knowledgeable and above all caring about each other. We sometimes talk about our experiences of our illnesses, stays in hospital and medication and such-like. By doing so we educate ourselves more about our illnesses and medication, and comfort one another with the fact that there are others just like us with similar experiences. But the mental health topic is not discussed a lot as most of the time we talk on the theme of our art work.
Basically I and others just find that art is a great and positive form of escapism. When I’m doing art I often think of nothing else but the art work at hand.
I personally enjoy volunteering to help frame and hang up new exhibitions. Framing is another skill I learned at CoolTan.
Recently the CoolTan computer teacher, a lovely lady called Fiona Conn, is helping me to publish online as e-books my Sci Fi, ‘Isley’ books.” Without her help and the help of CoolTan, I would never have written them, let alone published them. These books make me feel really proud of this achievement, which again contributes to helping me stay well and out of hospital.”
Mr A.W.J. Pilgrim, male, 45.