A new exhibition opens this week that aims to lift spirits and spread some happiness across Berkhamsted and the surrounding area.
Laughter – it’s the best medicine! will showcase work by local artists and other members of the community designed to bring a smile and promote well-being. Works include paintings, cartoons and photographs, sculptures, poetry and even a joke board where people’s favourite jokes will be displayed. Local school children have got involved, submitting drawings of things that make them laugh and illustrated jokes.
Lily Donlan, Public Engagement in Art Project Manager at Open Door, said: ‘We are delighted with the mix of artwork and writing that we’ve received. People have really bought into the idea of coming together to create something to lighten spirits and bring joy in these difficult times.’ She continued: ‘Research has shown that laughter can boost immunity as well as raise mood, so we hope that this initiative will really promote wellbeing locally, something which is central to our ethos at Open Door.’
Alongside the exhibition, Open Door are running a series of humorous and fun-filled workshops, including some Laughter Yoga sessions, a cartoon drawing workshop and a Funny Faces portrait workshop.
Artist Louise Williams, whose painting Coin-Op features in the exhibition, said: ‘It feels like the perfect time for this exhibition and I hope my work will play a part in raising people’s spirits after the challenges of the last couple of years. During the ongoing anxiety and uncertainty we are all experiencing at the moment, finding humour in our everyday lives can be an ideal starting point.’
The exhibition is the final element of Open Door’s Public Engagement in Art project, funded by the National Lottery, which has been running over the last year. The project aimed to bring the benefits of engaging with art to a wider audience, particularly those in the community who might not usually have the opportunity to access arts activities, or reap the wellbeing benefits they can provide. The organisation put on a variety of workshops and courses including a mobile phone photography course for young people and an online drawing workshop in partnership with the Hospice of St Francis.
A collection of work from the different strands of the project will be included in the exhibition. Most striking of these are two large hand-woven panels, created by members of the community at an event last summer at Rectory Lane Cemetery in Berkhamsted. The pieces are made up of poignant hand-stitched messages in response to the Covid pandemic and people’s hopes and dreams for the future. A weaving workshop is also running during the exhibition to give people the chance to have a go at creating their own mini handwoven artworks.
Laughter – it’s the best medicine! is open Monday-Saturday 10.30am-3.30pm, from Monday 14 March to Saturday 2 April at Open Door, 360 High Street Berkhamsted HP4 1HU (opposite VAH).
- Laughter Cartoon Drawing – a drawing workshop with artist Louise Williams. Thursday 17 March 7-9pm £10
- Weaving Taster Workshop – learn how to hand weave with textile artist Deborah Simister. Thursday 17 March 2-4pm £35
- Fun with Faces art workshop – a portrait drawing workshop with artist Margaret Mee. Saturday 19 March 11am-1pm £10
- Laughter Yoga for adults – with Charlotte from the Happy Human project. Saturday 26 March 10.30-11.30am £10
- Laughter Yoga for families – with Charlotte from the Happy Human project. Saturday 26 March 12noon-1pm £10 adults £2 child