The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is programmed by people from all across Scotland. To celebrate this year’s Connected theme, we want to introduce you to some of them. Today, we meet Brian Reid, who coordinates an annual exhibition at Leverndale Hospital, which this year is called Connect to the Moment.

What does Connected, SMHAF’s theme this year, mean to you?

It was my favourite choice of topic for some years. It’s an all embracing theme which creates dialogue around who we are, where we are and all that is important to us. In discussions, art and writing groups around this topic, it has been fruitful. Diverse responses. Poignant moments. And great fun.

How long have you been putting on events at the festival, and what made you get involved?

We have had an exhibition every year at Leverndale Hospital. Initially, we were totally unofficial! We invented local SMHAF fringe style events on the Leverndale site. One year, we took all our exhibits down to the cafe at the Pearce Institute and sited them there for the whole festival, and we weren’t in the brochure.

At Leverndale, we have always had an art vibe at the core of our creative therapies and I’ve been truly honoured to be involved in some of the most dynamic events with great practitioners and brilliant artists. A big focus for me in my work in Recreational Therapy is the mantra that Anyone Can Do Art. Except for me of course.

I am a total banner waver when it comes to battling stigma. I’m 39 years a nurse and I still feel as passionately about inclusion and the provision of life enhancing opportunities to connect with your real self. The person. What you like to do. 

How would you describe where you live to someone who had never been there?

I love where I live. Less than twenty minutes and I am in total countryside. Less than twenty minutes and I am in Glasgow city centre. Hills and water and the Glasgow Film Festival and Celtic Connections and SMHAF all within easy reach. A nurturing, vibrant and – with our free access to Glasgow Museums – culturally inclusive country. What is not to love.

Can you give us an example – more than one if you like – of an event in your area that sums up the spirit of the festival?

I love the film festival. Brilliantly curated and the events where directors and participants get to share their story is amazing.

I love all the local events around Paisley and Glasgow that give a platform to people living with illness and stigma and grief. I think that opportunity is at the core of all that is important in the festival. Not imposing art from outside but encouraging and creating art from what previously seemed like hopeless situations. Breathing self belief and self esteem and fun back in to lives in a way that is meaningful to each individual.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Have been to five events so far and have at least three lined up for next week. Wouldn’t like to favour one over the other but I loved the film festival. The Lumo movie, We Are All Here, was devastating.

Connect to the Moment takes place on Thu 23 May from 6-9pm in the Recreational Therapy department at Leverndale Hospital. This year’s event celebrates how we connect to art and how art connects us to others and our environment. No need to book, just drop in throughout the evening.