Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Annual arts festival returns for biggest year yet

The link between creative minds and mental illness has been illustrated by host of much-loved musicians, writers and artists, from Sylvia Plath to Jeff Tweedy, Van Gogh, Hemingway and Tolstoy. Since its inception in 2007, SMHAFF has aimed to highlight the links between mental health and creativity

Unless you’ve been gently nestled under some rock for the past several years, you will probably be aware of the annual autumnal arts treat that is the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF). This year’s brochure boasts almost 300 events across Scotland.

‘This year, the themes are related areas of mental health and memory, and mental health and dreams. We’re trying to get people to explore what mental health means to each of them,’ festival director Lee Knifton explains.

‘I think if you want to achieve change socially, the arts are unique in the way they can bring people together. Everyone can be connected by the arts, sharing stories and experiences that we would otherwise maybe not be exposed to.’

In previous years, Music Like A Vitamin has been a big draw, featuring Emma Pollock and Rod Jones, plus members of Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and a host of other Scottish indie faces. This year, Jones and Yorkston are involved again under the Fruit Tree Foundation name alongside Edinburgh son Withered Hand. ‘It’s a really interesting project where they have been mentoring new musicians, smaller scale than Music Like A Vitamin but still incredibly valuable,’ Knifton says.

Music is not the only thing on the menu, with literature events prominent in this year’s schedule. Weegie lit faves DiScomBoBuLaTe are doing a special evening of words and bits of comedy at Motherwell Library. A special one-day literature event at the Sanctuary in Edinburgh, backed by Edinburgh University, will look at dreams, memory and sleep, while the National Museum of Scotland will be running storytelling workshops.

Edinburgh’s Filmhouse is running a series of movies looking at different aspects of mental health from dementia to post-traumatic stress, featuring Away From Her, The Hurt Locker, Looking For Eric and a special look at Norman Wisdom. Glasgow offers up a couple of mini-festivals in the form of Headspace at Platform in Easterhouse and the Moving Minds day of events at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The CCA offers a host of diverse events, from a play about bipolar disorder to a graphic-novel workshop looking at dreams of Scotland’s future and traveller communities talking about mental health in a way that will blow apart any ideas you got from watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (not that you would ever watch that, you classy reader, you).

Various venues across Scotland, Sat 1–Fri 21 Oct.

Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival

One of Scotland’s most diverse and inclusive cultural events, combining high quality artistic events with extensive community-led programming and a social justice agenda.

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