"I was seeing a psychologist, then I went to MIND; they suggested that I come here" says mosaic artist Margaret "If this scheme ever, ever goes, I'll just go to rock bottom again. Start is the most fabulous place there is."
I have come to grade two listed Brunswick House on Broad Street, home to the Start Centre for creative arts and wellbeing. Time Out, Arts on Prescription is a six months course here which is for people who have, or are, in danger of experiencing mental ill health. In this time you can work on various different projects including pottery, gardening, mosaic, painting, woodwork and digital photography. And I am here to speak to the Mosaic group that has recently completed a commission, which is now hanging in the Children's department of the Pendleton Gateway Centre.
The mosaic artworks are colourful cartoon-like images of animals, including many recognizable and favourite characters. The pieces are uplifting and comforting in their familiarity, while there are also some great cartoon animal paintings from Start member Florenncia Peralta.
I ask the group how they feel about their work being on public display…
"It's a big achievement" says voluntary team leader Roy "It's great knowing that people get pleasure out of it, and that people will pay money for our work."
"The only thing is that the work that we've done for the Children's department can't be seen be seen by much of the public" explains mosaic artist Sue "and it's the public that will give us commissions."
More accessible to the public, the group also have work hanging in the Doctor's surgery at the Pendleton Gateway. They have also completed commissions for Wigan Renal Unit and Six Degrees Social Enterprise. The commissions are gained mostly by word of mouth, and they mostly create the work themselves.
"Nine times out of ten we come up with the design" says Roy "I draw it and we work from that. We all collaborate on the bigger pieces."
The rest of the team are full of praise for Roy's speed and skill with the mosaic tiles. It's a very labour intensive craft though, each piece in the Doctor's surgery taking about 36 hours.
The group have also applied their mosaic work to tabletops and a mirror for the Start members' lounge. The tabletops are themed to the activities which take place at Start. Smaller private commissions have included house number signs.
The group feel that the social aspect of their sessions is as important as their work.
"When I came here I didn't speak for the first six weeks" says artist Angela "Now, as soon as the weekend ends I'm looking forward to the group meeting on Thursday."
"If anyone is down, you can phone Roy and he cheers you up" adds Margaret.
"I was diagnosed with a brain tumour four and a half years ago and I was suffering from depression because of this" says Roy "A support worker suggested Start. That was three and a half years ago. I knew this place was here, as I live close, but I didn't know what it was for. It's like being in a very long, dark tunnel and Start is the light at the end of it."
If you would like to commission some work from the group, contact Ann Marie Rickus on 0161 351 3000 or email email@example.com
See more at www.startinsalford.org.uk