Meet the Open Atelier Community
Since the beginning of 2020, Framer Framed opened its doors for an artist community; every Monday they get together for creative workshops and art therapy with i-psy Arts Amsterdam.
The Open Atelier community works with the guidance of the lead art therapists: Suzanne Delshadian, her team Laura van den Dungen and Ruth Oppel and Betul Ellialtioglu from Framer Framed.
Below is an introduction to the project by Framer Framed Director, Josien Pieterse, and a summary of participants’ experiences. We asked what art means to the community and how they feel about the collaboration between i-psy Arts and Framer Framed.
Whilst mental health care has become increasingly focused on ‘talking’ and verbally expressing complaints and problems, there appears to be less and less room for the possibility of expressing yourself or dealing with complicated situations in other ways. Art therapy is gradually disappearing as an offering for people with mental health problems. At the same time, participants say they would like to come to the studio more, and there is a waiting list for participation in the Open Studio.
The concept of an open studio was inspired by the set-up of ‘Studio Upstairs’ in London. Suzanne Delshadian, the coordinator and practitioner from I-psy Arts was trained in the UK and became involved with this idea. She was inspired by a new approach, not just creating a treatment centre that provides art as an introspective leisure activity, but a place where people experience that they can develop and change through creating art, both privately and publicly. A place where they can be guided by artists, visual therapists, psychotherapists and people from the arts field. In the Open Atelier at Framer Framed, we take this one step further: the studio is part of the arts organisation itself, and together we also explore programming, exhibitions and themes.
Every week, the laid-back studio is open to participants. They can use the space to meet each other, have conversations, and further raise their profile as artists. In addition, they then get the opportunity to eventually exhibit their work. In this way, the therapeutic team helps participants develop to their full potential.
Suzanne Delshadian: ‘The collaboration between Framer Framed and i-psy started two years ago, during the first lockdown. When we started working together as Framer Framed and i-psy in 2020, there was a great sense of urgency due to budget cuts in the heathcare system. Part of the close-knit group was no longer allowed to participate in the art therapy group. In order to keep the group together, an alternative location had to be found. Thus, the Open Atelier was born in Framer Framed’s space.’
Within mental health, there have long been voices indicating that market forces in healthcare are disastrous for patients. Renowned psychiatrist Cobie Groenendijk stated in the April 2021 edition of the Volkskrant: “The fundamental professional values of psychiatrists and psychologists, such as doing good and not harming, are at risk. ‘Doing good’ is giving meaning and building a relationship of trust, not primarily prescribing prescriptions and heading for short-term care that only combats symptoms.”
It is beyond our comprehension that it is possible for a mental health institution to go bankrupt, but it is a given that PsyQ and i-psy Amsterdam recently announced their bankruptcy. In 2022, we once again have been forced to look for a way in which the Open Atelier can continue to exist in the future. The cooperation between the Framer Framed team and the participants has brought us both a lot, and we are determined to continue this.
Although the future is uncertain, we aim to provide sustainability and security, and create an environment where market pressures do not prevail. English paediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott stresses the importance of a ‘holding environment’. As human beings, we need a warm, protected, safe and secure environment where we can attach ourselves. From there, we can move outward, become creative, explore, grow and develop.
“The Open Atelier is a safe environment. Making art frees me from my demons. It helps me to focus and to come into contact with others. Being part of this community is important for me. I feel challenged to step out of the box and try out new things.
I love to be in contact with other cultures and enjoy the learning that comes from diversity. It’s also been good to be part of an LGBTQ community here. For me, it’s very important that Framer Framed stays multicultural and diverse.
What makes the open atelier attractive is that it is in collaboration with an exhibition space. I can develop myself as an artist here because it is separate from the GGZ. I feel welcome, the people who work at Framer Framed are nice and approachable.”
“Coming to the i-psy Open Atelier and making art gives me peace of mind. I can breathe again. I like the fact that I can meet other artists, learn new techniques and develop my ideas. Participating in the i-psy Open Atelier helps me feel stronger as an artist.”
I am very happy that there is a cooperation between i-psy Amsterdam and Framer Framed. I feel the synergy between the organisations. During our open atelier activities we are surrounded by art and people also keep working on their art. Before I was feeling alone and lost. Now, I realise that I created a bond, a relationship, between myself and the city. It is alive, and I am also part of it.
“This is a good place to come into contact with each other. It’s special to be at the Open Atelier during the Corona time when everything is closed. It’s like a lifeline. I have benefitted from many activities here; including workshops, conversations and now participating in the organisation of the LGBTQ exhibition Proud Aliens.”
“I like coming here because the participants are familiar to me. And because of the atmosphere and the fact that I can use all these materials to improve myself.”
“Even though it can be quite chaotic and busy sometimes, I think this is good place for a beginning artist to develop and improve myself.”
“Here I can easily engage in conversation with other (professional) artists. And ask (myself) exciting and critical questions and be open to critical and exciting questions from others. I can learn to profile myself as an artist. Also, the vision of Framer Framed appeals to me. I can be myself here, I’m not a client or an artist but just myself. There is room to work out our own theme project like the LBTQ art project. The location of the studio and the space is inspiring and confronting. A place to improve, use the right materials and copy/learn from the reflection moments within the group.”
The LGBTQ+ project group of Open Atelier have created a utopian future where difference and diversity are recognised as beautiful and celebrated. Exhibition Proud Aliens (30 Jul-22 Aug 2021) is on show at Framer Framed. Read more
We would like to thank all Framer Framed’s Open Atelier community for sharing their experience. You can follow their activities also on their Instagram page.
Open Atelier / Community & Learning /