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On World Mental Health Day 2019, Open House Artists in Residence Wright & Vandame led a guided meditation in the Kettle’s Yard House. We spoke to them about how this project came about.

One in four people experience mental health issues each year. Since we started working with Open House, we have been thinking actively about how to make a space which could explore ideas of mental health and community. How does space shape a positive sense of wellbeing? What can we do as artists to make a difference? On World Mental Health Day 2019, we decided to lead a free guided meditation for the public in Kettle’s Yard. This is why we did it…

One of the projects we are interested in developing during our residency at Kettle’s Yard, is a series of guided meditations which could be co-created with various community groups in North Cambridge. As we developed this idea over the summer, we learned that World Mental Health Day was happening in early October. We figured we could use this date as an exciting opportunity to trial the meditation whilst recognising the value of having an open conversation about mental health and wellbeing in the public realm.

Guided meditation participant, photo: Wright & Vandame

Working in collaboration with musician and sound engineer, Thibaut Vandame, we wanted to do a couple of things with the guided meditation. Using the House at Kettle’s Yard as a starting point, we wanted participants to feel relaxed, comfortable, and grounded. We split the activity up into two parts. The first part was a warm up, inviting participants to be conscious about a single object or individuals in their surroundings. Sometimes this involved more absurd or unorthodox ways of thinking or feeling, for example, what does something smell like? Then, once participants felt settled, we began a longer meditation, focusing on breathing and repeating the mantra, “It’s a way of life.” ‘A way of life’ is something Jim Ede, the founder of Kettle’s Yard, often used to describe his approach to collecting and living.

In a simple way, the guided meditation is a useful reminder to check in with yourself, pause, and see how you are doing. In our effort to constantly strive for the best we can sometimes lose sight of being alive and content with what we have. In those moments of reflection, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect,  just try to accept something as it is but if you feel something should change or let go that’s okay. Everything has its own time and place, it’s a way of life.

You can listen to the meditation from home here.

Please join us in November 2019 for our upcoming display exploring mindfulness, abstraction, and nature in the reserve collection at Kettle’s Yard.