Ali Strick is the founder of Arts Sisterhood UK, a DIY organisation aimed at women and non-binary people that uses art as a means to work towards mental health recovery. Inspired by both the online communities of women lending a hand to one another and the lack of affordable art classes, Ali wanted to create a real life space where people could come together to help and support one another. Now her primary focus, Arts Sisterhood UK stands as a vital organisation in providing access to creative therapy without the extortionate costs of private care or months spent on an NHS waiting list, with easily accessible all-inclusive art classes across the UK that aim to leave each participant feeling empowered and safe in the knowledge that they are never alone. "Arts Sisterhood UK is a combination of all of the things I wanted for my own mental health recovery", Ali says, "and I figured that if I wanted something like this to exist, there must be others too.”
The next Arts Sisterhood UK class will run on April 21st at DIY Space for London. Tickets from £3.
Through Arts Sisterhood UK, I have discovered that many mental health issues are born out of not addressing certain issues and experiences and not letting go of negative thoughts/feelings.
There are many benefits of art therapy. To begin with, there is mindfulness - clearing thoughts from your head and focusing on a task while still being in touch with how you are feeling throughout the piece you are working on. Making a note of the intensity and feeling of your emotions contributes to eliminating stress and anxiety while also helping people to get in touch with what is really going on inside them. I think the most important benefit is digging down into your psyche to find things you may not have addressed before, and this awareness then helps you come to terms with your past experiences.
On my self-love journey, I realised that to love yourself you've got to be comfortable in your own company.
How can you be good company to someone else if you can’t keep yourself happy and entertained when alone? Berlin is the city where I first learnt this. I love to go there alone, explore it alone, go clubbing alone, eat dinner alone, go to bars alone, go to galleries alone, go shopping alone, travel alone. I think it's one of the least judgemental cities in the world, so it’s a good place to try things out that you’d be afraid to do somewhere else. I feel very comfortable there, and it’s easy to meet people and make new friends. I always come away feeling like I’ve let my hair down and gone a bit wild, which is cathartic and a nice break from stress. It leaves me feeling ready to go back to reality and the grind in London.
Peckham in South East London has such an amazing community of creative people and independent businesses supporting each other.
I’m constantly inspired by the creative ventures in Peckham - it’s part of the reason I felt spurred to go ahead and do my own thing. I saw people with hardly any business experience and little money growing their ideas and getting huge amounts of success and this gave me some motivation to try and do the same. Working with venues like DIY Space for London in Peckham, a community/volunteer-led business with an ethos built on inclusivity and sharing your skills/experience with a community, was really interesting to encounter and very essential! They’ve been so supportive and kind and I think they’re the reason why Arts Sisterhood UK has been so successful.
A church at the top of a very, very, VERY tall hill in the Tuscan countryside is a view that took my breath away.
There was this beautiful rustic orange coloured stone, an arched walkway with tall pillars, decorated with beautiful religious, renaissance murals within the arches. This walkway went on for about 3 hours, up stairs and ramps, until you finally reach the church. It quite literally takes your breath away, especially if you’re a smoker like I am! I was left gasping for air and water especially since it was such a sweltering day. But the suffering was worth it, and I almost think that it was purposely built to make people suffer because it honestly feels like a pilgrimage. You really appreciate reaching the church so much more after the struggle of climbing all of those stairs for hours and you genuinely feel blessed by God to be able to use toilets and a water fountain.
Elizabeth Fraser, the lead singer of Cocteau Twins/This Mortal Coil, is one of my favourite musicians.
Her voice is beautiful and ethereal while remaining powerful and intense. I love her lyrics; a collection of words and noises that sound very pretty together but don’t necessarily make any sense when you read them. However, when you listen to her singing you can hear the emotion and meaning behind each word in her voice. It’s fun to wonder about what she means or interpret my own meaning for each song. She conveys such raw emotion that if you really focus on the music, it can be very powerful and moving. I recently found a Cocteau Twins meme about her singing/lyrics and it made me so happy that someone put how put how I feel about something relatively obscure into meme-form!