The Sunflower Women’s Centre hosted its first ever “Making Connections” Art Exhibition yesterday on the Barbican in Plymouth.
All the art on show was created by women who currently access The Sunflower Women Centre – the outreach project managed by local charity, Trevi House. On display were beautiful works of art including photography, felt works, decoupage mirrors, poetry, paintings, sculptures and much more.
All of the artwork was created with a topic linked to recovery for example, freedom, breakthrough and reflections. It was created within the therapeutic recovery sessions organised by the Sunflower Women’s Centre, which is now accessed by more than 60 women in the city. The brain power behind the exhibition is Recovery Capital Worker, Nancy Pedersen. Nancy has worked at The Sunflower Women’s Centre since its opening in 2016 and is responsible for all the creative therapies to assist women in recovery.
Nancy said: “‘Sunflower is a therapeutic trauma informed site and is a safe place for the women to address the roots of their pain; creative activities are an important aspect of the work we do, and art is a powerful tool which yields amazing results. We are very proud of the work the women have produced.”
One powerful collection within the exhibition was “Tiny Steps Make Many Miles” - a collection of shoes decorated to depict the ups of recovery and the downs of addiction. On one side of the collection there was a display of black shoes covered with disturbing objects such as cigarette butts, nails, blood, pins and even one positioned on top of varnished egg shells. On the other side were white shoes decorated with many colourful objects such as jewels, feathers and with words such as recovery and hope, all to represent where the women are today. Looking at the collection of shoes, it was hard not be overcome by emotion.
“This project was particularly powerful,” says Nancy. “Four women took part and journaled the process. All of them said it was very therapeutic because it took them back to the dark time they had experienced before but then brought them back into the light. All of them said that they would never want to return to that dark place ever again.”
Emma, a volunteer for the centre from Fotonow, a local photographic community interest company, was involved in the photography project. She said: “At first, some of the women had low confidence in being able to use the camera or to take a picture but step by step we saw each woman grow and by the end they were starting to spot beauty at every angle. The thematic element interwoven into the project was important for example one theme – breakthrough - led to some amazing pictures of flowers or an object of beauty surrounded by a dark and harsh environment – in many ways representing some of the women’s pasts. It has been an emotional experience seeing just how far some of the women have progressed.”
Charlotte, one of the women involved in the project said: “I particularly enjoyed the decoupage. I love designer wear and for me, creating my decoupage mirror was a great project. I would love to go on an create more!”
Passionate about supporting women in recovery, Trevi House is a charity aspiring to ensure every woman is given the opportunity to heal, grow and thrive. Its Sunflower Women’s Centre which has now been in operation for two years, is a trauma-informed women’s wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for any woman who has support needs. Using a whole-system-approach, women receive support in addressing and resolving substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health. 90% of women supported by the Sunflower centre say it has been a lifeline.
This is the first publicly held exhibition of recovery artwork. The charity plans to host many more in the future.
To find out more, please visit or call 01752 255 758. A video displaying the works is also available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt-2-AYQOmI