Storying Sheffield

Our Sheffield: a memory map

Kay Aitch and Chrissy Bonham work together delivering Storying workshops to people accessing mental health recovery services. A large part of their workshop focuses upon the significance of place and the effect it has upon our identities. Workshop participants are encouraged to discuss their favourite places in Sheffield and explore the memories associated with them. They then create a building in the form of a cube which features artwork relating to their favourite place, and memories detailing why it holds significance for them.

The exploration of place and its effect upon our identity and sense of self is an important part of the Storying process. When we are struggling with mental health difficulties it is very common to feel isolated and disconnected from our surroundings. Identities can be overtaken by a mental health diagnosis and the effects that mental distress has upon our lives. Individuals often feel that they are not part of society and that they do not contribute to the city they live in.

By exploring positive memories linked to meaningful places it helps people to reconnect with their surroundings. As group participants discuss their meaningful place it often elicits responses from other people who also have a memory about the place and it therefore helps build shared connections. The main aim of this activity is to help people to understand that it is their stories which help create a city. Their memories are woven into the fabric of the very buildings that surround us and without these stories our city would be an empty shell. Every single person’s story matters and breathes essential life into our city.

Over the past two years Kay and Chrissy have been collecting the ‘story buildings’ created in the workshops to use as part of an art exhibition. They have also created buildings with mental health professionals and medical students who have taken part in the Narrative Masterclass delivered at The University of Sheffield. All the buildings created are going to be positioned upon a large map of Sheffield in the place they relate to, forming a visual map of our memories.

This will be an interactive exhibition with Kay or Chrissy available to discuss the work they do and people who come along will be encouraged to create their own building and add it to the memory map. It is part of the CAST ‘Bridges not Barriers’ exhibition which is being held as part of Sheffield Mental Health Week.

The exhibition will be running in the Winter Gardens from the 1st to the 8th of October and will then be exhibited at DINA Art Gallery from the 13th October to the 16th October. We hope to see you there!