Reclaiming Our Heritage Project


Reclaiming Our Heritage is a collection of stories about the arts and mental health landscape in Scotland, between the 1950s to early 2000s.


Syma reflects on the various projects she has facilitated and goes into detail about the impact arts activities has on participants, particularly within the South Asian community.


Sheena is an art therapist, painter, and printmaker with an additional background in further education.

Ruth D

Ruth has a broad range of experiences within the arts and health field, ranging from outreach drama work to her current position as a health improvement lead within the NHS.


Ruth is a writer and trained facilitator who has experience making art in programs where it was an encouraging therapeutic tool.


Richard Warden is a festival producer, film programmer, and producer. He speaks about his former role as a festival curator at the Scottish Mental Health and Arts Festival. 


Rachel is a community artist based in Glasgow. She talks about her experience operating art projects in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, schools and the wider community. 


Neil Quinn has a background in community development, social work, public health, and academia. He has experience running programmes designed to combat stigma around mental health and promote artistic practices. 


Community development worker, Mahmud, has years of experience facilitating and organising projects about mental health.  


Writer, playwright and facilitator, Larry, has been organising arts activities throughout the UK for several decades. 


Keith has a long history of working in mental health wellbeing and the arts, particularly in his role with Creativity in Care. He explains the benefits of the creative process to engage with people in residential care settings. 

John S

John co-founded the musical collective, The Mad Jammers, who have hosted open mic nights across Scotland.  

John McC

As former Deputy Government of HM Prison Barlinnie, John was responsible for bringing Nemo Arts, a mental health arts organisation, in to the prison.


Jeanette is an occupational therapist who has worked across the South West coast of Scotland for several decades.  


Jane has 20 years of experience as a community musician. She discusses the benefits of drumming workshops in hospital and community settings, from a mental health viewpoint. 


In his role as director of Artlink, Jan-Bert has been organising and developing community-based art projects to benefit communities for nearly three decades. He discusses the positive benefits to individuals from simple engagement with creativity.


Isabel founded Nemo Arts, a charity that supports people recovering from poor mental health to participate in visual art, drama, and music workshops. 


As a forestry worker, a former Voluntary Services Manager at Argyll & Bute Hospital and a musician, Hugh uses nature and music to connect people. 


Author and community worker, Graham Morgan, has contributed to the mental health landscape in the Highlands and beyond. 


Gerry has nearly 40 years of working in the arts, mainly as a poet and an artist. He talks about the importance of art as a form of creative expression and therapeutic healing in the community and hospitals.


As the Voluntary Services Manager at the Gartnaval Royal Hospital, Fiona Sinclair helps to bring the hospital wards to life with music and art. 


She recounts what it was like to treat patients using art and creative therapies. Ella shares her own experience of how attitudes towards occupational therapy in hospital changed over time.


Elisabeth has 30 years’ experience within her role as Creative Director at Project Ability, a visual arts organisation based in Glasgow. 


Songwriter and lead singer of BMX Bandits, Duglus T Stewart, has a career in music spanning four decades. He shares his thoughts onsongwriting,mental health, and running some of the first music events for SMHAF.


Artist, writer and musician, Dougie, has a wide-spreading archive of material documenting his life and his experiences. In this interview, he shares his own experience of mental illness and explains what art and music mean for him.


Donna is a mental health nurse who used poetry to support her own mental health recovery. Working with young people, she shares how her own experience of poor mental health helps to inform her work as a mental health nurse.

Chris W

Chris was a board member and volunteer for Survivors Poetry Scotland. He shares his experiences of being admitted to mental health hospitals in the 90s, and how participating in an arts organisation aided his recovery.

Chris K

Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) is a programme co-managed by Chris Kelly. Founded in 2002, THAT aims to develop the role of arts in healthcare across Tayside. 

Chris B

Writer and playwright Chris was part of a therapeutic poetry and arts organisation, Survivors Poetry Scotland.


A writer and performer of ‘poyums’, Chik shares his experiences of being part of Dundee Reps as an amateur performer.  Chik has also been a long-time volunteer with See Me, helping to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. 


In the early 2000s, Carole worked with Positive Mental Attitudes, an anti-stigma arts programme in Glasgow, to create drama performances that tackled mental health stigma.  


Brian trained as a mental health nurse and spent 39 years working at Leverndale, a psychiatric hospital in Glasgow.  


Anne trained as an occupational therapist (OT), supporting patients recovering from mental illness in hospital through meaningful activity.  


Former arts journalist turned festival and events programmer, Andrew Eaton-Lewis, has worked across Scotland supporting artists to showcase their work to new audiences.  


Alison is the Chief Executive of Bipolar Scotland; a charity that offers support for those affected by bipolar disorder.  


Alina trained as a doctor, before moving to health improvement with a focus on BAME communities. Within this role she worked with women’s groups from diverse backgrounds in projects which encouraged conversations about mental health using art.


Abi is an artist and puppeteer who specialises in papercutting. When she moved to Scotland in 1999, Abi began leading workshops in papercutting and clay work with people in hospitals and the community.