Featured Member: Donna Mcghie

Why I run my Art 4 A Heart Workshops – by Donna Mcghie (Art & Murals by Donna Mcghie)

With a background in integrative therapy and social work and inclusion  I have always used art in some form or another as a gentle way of helping people to open up about their feelings and emotions.

In 2013 I made the leap into setting up my own business Art & Murals by Donna Mcghie with a view to making art accessible to everyone, regardless of perceived artistic ability. 

I have often heard it said that it’s possible to lose ourselves in art.  I actually believe the opposite is true.  I think we can find ourselves in art.

I offered a range of services from face painting to  murals.  If the mural was for a child it was important to me to involve the child  in every aspect of the mural design so that they really felt they had played a part in the creation.

One year my husband offered to pay for me to go on a Powertex fabric sculpting workshop for my birthday.  I will always remember how proud I was of that first fairy I made.  Whilst I was on the course the tutor mentioned that she was looking to train up people to run workshops all over the country. 

I absolutely jumped at the chance to do this.  It made perfect sense to me that these workshops would be a perfect fit with my ethos of using creativity to enhance mental health wellbeing for everyone, regardless of age or perceived artistic ability.

In 2015 I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneur Project with the aim of using my workshops as a stepping to re-engaging with society  for people who had become isolated due to mental health issues.

Below are a couple of testimonials which give a flavour of how beneficial people find the workshops:

Donna’s workshops are a very good way to relax and unwind.  The tuition provided is clear concise and calming.  It allows everyone to express their creativity in their own style.  It allows people who considered themselves not artistic to achieve amazing results thus installing a new found confidence’

 ‘I have attended along with my mother and her sister several workshops held by Donna over the past few years.  Never in a million years did we think we could create things of such beauty! Donna certainly knows how to bring out the best in people.  Her friendliness, warm personality and sense of humour all serve to encourage her students to relax and enjoy the workshop and amaze themselves with their creations! We cannot wait until our next workshop’

 

Just as my business was really starting to take off because of all I had learnt on the scheme, my husband’s health deteriorated rapidly, and he was rushed into Papworth Hospital in Cambridge and put on the urgent waiting list for a heart transplant.

Although I tried my best during this time to keep my workshops, and my attendance on the Scheme going, obviously my number one priority was my family and I spent much of my time on the M25 going to and from Cambridge.

After 3 huge setbacks where they thought they’d found a match, but for whatever reason couldn’t use them, my husband was lucky enough to receive a new heart.

It was whilst I was sat in the waiting room at the hospital that the idea for Art-4-A-Heart Workshops came to me.  I knew I wanted to get my workshops back into full swing once my husband was out of the danger zone, and it also felt incredibly important to me to give something back to the hospital that saved him, and also, in some small way, to honour the donor and their family.

I decided that a small percentage of the money made from my workshops would be donated to the Royal Papworth Hospital Charity.  I could still focus on the mental health wellbeing side of things, as I genuinely do believe that creativity helps with this, but for me, now the fact that I could make a small financial contribution to helping the hospital became a huge priority.

Despite the setbacks, I graduated from the Scheme. 

Receiving my Fellowship from the Mayor of Portsmouth

 At the moment due to the husband’s low immunity my workshops are on hold. 

My next challenge is to tackle my innate fear of technology and start doing some online workshops, as people who have regularly attended in person are getting in touch saying how much they are missing them. 

 

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