IA Banner Sandown Carnival 1st place

Huge congratulations to our Creative Café participants, as their incredible dinosaur banner was awarded first place in its class at Sandown Carnival! Well done all! (July 2019)


Thanks to Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely for visiting Independent Arts' PPUG gallery in Newport HIgh Street to see the fantastic exhibition by students of Nine Acres Primary School. (July 2019. Photo by Julian Winslow)

National recognition for older age photographic project

Press release July 2019

A selection of black and white portraits taken by residents of Southern Housing Group supported accommodation schemes on the Isle of Wight is going on show at the National Trust’s Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, Wiltshire, the former home of photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot.

The stunning portraits were created by older people, at workshops run by Independent Arts at Southern Housing Group supported accommodation schemes. The images form an exhibition called Art and Identity which was inspired by discussing themes of capturing a person’s likeness and sense of self within a photographic portrait. Remarkable portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron (the trailblazing Victorian photographer based at Freshwater) were used as inspiration and the workshop sessions were led by photographer Julian Winslow.

“I felt emotionally overwhelmed with the artwork produced. The images are extremely powerful conveying joy, vulnerability, pathos and humour. Many of the participants had never used a digital camera but given the opportunity and guidance the results were simply astonishing. It has been a privilege to work on this project," says Julian.

Roger Watson, curator at the National Trust’s Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, was so impressed with the quality of the portraits that he invited Independent Arts to curate a selection to go on display in the Little Gallery during summer 2019:

“This is a wonderful and laudable project. The images are thought-provoking and clearly demonstrate that the creative journey is a life-long one," said Roger. "It feels very fitting with the legacy of William Henry Fox Talbot to welcome these images to Lacock and support a project of this kind."

Kerry Tindall, Independent Arts Programmes Manager, says:

“We are extremely excited and proud to be given this opportunity to show Art and Identity at the Fox Talbot Museum. The project was funded by the Arts Council with overall aims to connect vulnerable older people with creative activities, develop new skills and enhance confidence and self-esteem. The quality of the work produced has been outstanding and this is fantastic recognition for everyone involved.”

Art and Identity will be shown in the Little Gallery at the Fox Talbot Museum from 19th July to 11th August 2019.

The Fox Talbot Museum is run by the National Trust and is located in Lacock, Chippenham SN15 2LG. For opening times and more information, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock

July PPUG exhibition

PPUG Nine Acres Primary exhibition July 2019

Visit our July exhibition at PPUG, our Pop Up People's Gallery in Newport: Be creARTive is artwork produced by the children from Nine Acres Primary School over the course of one year. Exploring themes from early cave paintings, tribal art, propaganda posters, modern art, self-portraits, even the school’s chickens, they have produced a body of work that is outstanding and demonstrates the potential art has to unlock creative expression…

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Thank you Asda!

A huge thanks to Asda who have donated these fabulous sewing machines to our Creative Café group. These will enable us to run some more advanced textiles sessions.


8th June – 30th June
Open view Tuesday 11th June 4pm-6pm, all welcome

Our June exhibition at the People’s Pop-Up Gallery PPUG will show artwork created by ten residents of Newport Residential Care.

Reconnections draws on themes of reconnecting with oneself, the community and to the environment. The mixed media work was produced during a 15-week long project facilitated by Independent Arts (IA) working with artists Leigh Jackman, Trudie Wilson and Mark Lloyd. Each workshop was based around the participants perception of themselves and their environment.

“We started by searching for words and symbols that best described our feelings either to a place or to ourselves. Using a camera we took pictures of letters from typography and signage around Newport and at other times participants experimented with photographic techniques, finding meaning in shadows and reflections as a way to communicate their inner feelings.”
Mark Lloyd, graphic designer

Newport Residential Care is currently home to 29 people, some of who live with a variety of conditions including dementia, isolation, poor mental health, anxiety and addiction. Ten residents participated in the project learning a variety of new art disciplines from photography, printing, painting, wire drawing and collage work.

“Newport Residential Care is a safe place where a journey of recovery can begin. Some of the residents here feel isolated or stigmatised by society, so we try to rebuild their self-esteem, helping to give them the tools to change their future. The Independent Arts project enabled people to learn new skills and tap into their creative abilities. It was wonderful watching how confidence began to grow as their artwork took shape.”
Lynne Rose, Newport Residential Care Manager

PPUG June 2019 exhibition

You can see Reconnections at PPUG Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10.30-3.30pm from 8th June 2019.

PPUG is manned by volunteers; any schedule changes will be show on social media.

Changing lives through arts is very much the impetus behind IA. Established in 1987, they now lead the way on the Island for arts-based social prescribing. PPUG is a vibrant new arts space located at 33 High Street, Newport. As well as changing programme of exhibitions you will also will be able to find out about workshops, classes and groups designed to help improve mental and physical wellbeing.

"Through drawing in wire we have explored the freedom of expression through line, this material naturally allows for freedom to express ideas and feeling, the wire recording thought and the process of making from within the moment,”
Trudie Wilson, visual artist and sculptor

Pop-up gallery that’s dispensing art!

Press release April 2019


Launch event Friday 17th May 4–6pm – all welcome

Independent Arts (IA) have transformed an empty space on Newport High Street, creating a vibrant art gallery and a wellbeing hub for art-based projects that can benefit your mental and physical health.

The People’s Pop-Up Gallery, known as PPUG, opening Thursday 25th April, is located at 33 High Street and will also have a well-being Hub. There will be a series of engaging exhibitions and the Hub will act as a social prescribing referral service for anyone who feels they may benefit either mentally or physically from one of several projects facilitated by IA.

Changing lives through art is very much the impetus behind IA. Established in 1987, the charity now leads the way on the Island for arts-based social prescribing. Social prescribing is simply where people receive non-medical help to improve their health and well-being through activities delivered in a social setting. These activities have measurable outcomes and vary from participating in a singing workshop to improve respiratory health, enjoying a dance class to assist with neurological conditions, to joining an anxiety café to reduce feelings of anxiety and isolation. At PPUG you will be able to find out about workshops, classes and groups designed to help improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Most of the artwork due to be exhibited at PPUG has been produced either at therapeutic workshops run by Independent Arts, or in environments designed to give artistic opportunities to people and children of all backgrounds. Wendy Varley, Chair of Trustees, Independent Arts, says:

“Independent Arts will always be a charity delivering arts programmes for the benefit of the most vulnerable people on the Isle of Wight; people of all ages experiencing disadvantage or social isolation, those with long term health problems and elderly people in care homes.”

The result is a rich body of work ranging from poignant black and white photographic portraiture to ceramic sculptures to intricate textile panels that feature the heritage of Newport. The opening exhibition, Time & Tide, features extraordinary artistic responses to local history created primarily by residents of Southern Housing Group schemes and care homes across the Island and at other workshop events held at libraries.

“We are delighted that The Gravesend and District Real Estate Company have given us the opportunity to use this space and would especially like to thank Tony Scotcher from Scotcher & Co for making this possible,” says Kate Ball, Chief Executive of IA.

PPUG will be open Thurs-Sat 10.30am–3.30pm though times may vary. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities or would like to find out more, please contact us.


Something to SingAbout!

Press release April 2019


Independent Arts (IA) secure three years’ funding for SingAbout, an island-wide project providing regular weekly singing clubs for older people living with a range of conditions including dementia and social isolation.

The £117,900 grant from The Henry Smith Charity will go towards three years' running costs of the SingAbout project. IA were praised by the charity who commented:

"We were particularly impressed with how well run the organisation is and how staff have the right skills and experience in supporting your client groups. We also thought your organisation has strong robust positive outcomes and the quality of your work is excellent and all artistic projects are embedded with therapeutic methods."

SingAbout was developed in 2010 to focus on the needs of our increasingly elderly population and in particular issues around social isolation, dementia and loneliness. Now, over 500 elderly people attend sessions every week, participating in social singing groups that not only allow friendships to flourish but also can improve mental, physical and cognitive health. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Arts, Health and Wellbeing found that music therapy reduces agitation and the need for medical medication in 67% of people living with dementia.

"I'm not so lonely, I go out more, have some lovely friends that I didn't have before. This helps boost my mood and my depression is much better."

JA 69 years of age

The two-hour free sessions, in church and community halls, include an important half-hour tea break where people can chat to each other. The singing is directed by trained musicians who have extensive experience in working with older people and those with dementia.

The sessions are open to all older people who wish to maintain memory, improve mood, breathing, movement, speech and confidence, or who are lonely and want someone to share a cup of tea with once a week. For many participants SingAbout is their only form of social activity, so securing a further three years of provision is a most welcome result.

Over the past eight years the project has been supported by multiple funders and is most recently part of the Age Friendly Island programme.

'We are delighted that the SingAbout project has secured longer-term funding. SingAbout is a life-enhancing activity and the Ageing Better programme, funded by the national lottery community fund, will continue to work together with Independent Arts providing these much-needed experiences to our most vulnerable members of society.'

Megan Jones, Head of Ageing Better, Age UK

If you are interested in joining SingAbout or you are a carer for someone you feel may benefit from participating please see our list of venues and times here


Young and elderly lives enriched by transformative care project

Press release March 2019

School Ties

Independent Arts (IA) are behind an ambitious new project, School Ties, that aims to put the Isle of Wight at the forefront of intergenerational care by introducing school rooms in care homes.

Last year IA ran a pilot project, Schoolroom in a Care Home, in which 10 primary school children regularly had lessons in a care home.

After just 12 weeks the results were astounding, care home residents felt a range of improvements from increased physical mobility, improved communication and enhanced feelings of self-worth.

For the children the results were equally impressive with teachers rating 100% strong improvements in all children over seven criteria including sensitivity, behaviour, confidence and expressive skills.

The school subsequently scored an improved Ofsted rating with the report highlighting: ‘Learning in lessons is enhanced successfully by events and activities that raise awareness of the wider world.’

After the success of the initial pilot project, IA have just secured funding from the Big Lottery and will introduce this concept to more schools and care homes across the Island.

Kerry Tindall, Programme Manager, says:

“We will be working with five care homes and schools this year, doubling to ten by 2020.

“We know from our own experience and research that this concept really works.

“Ideally, Independent Arts would like to create an easily replicated blueprint for intergenerational care on the Isle of Wight, improving the quality of adult residential care and enhancing education to transform lives both young and old.”

The Isle of Wight was recently highlighted for poor adult residential care ranking 47 out of 47 for its residential, nursing and home care services, this was based on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection ratings.

Similarly education has hit the spotlight with figures from the Department of Education showing 46 per cent of 16-year-olds failed to pass their English and maths GCSE a figure well below the national average.

Kerry finished by saying,

“This inspirational project has the potential to address some serious issues we face here and actually put the Island in the spotlight for creative, affordable solutions that positively change lives and that is at the heart of Independent Arts.”

Get involved
If you are interested in your school or care home taking part in this exciting project please contact us.

Social Prescribing in the Spotlight

Independent Arts has been focused on arts for health and wellbeing for more than 30 years: we know the difference arts activities can make to people's lives.

There is now recognition from government that social prescribing – GPs prescribing targeted activities – can be a way of improving people's quality of life, mental health and general wellbeing, as well as reducing social isolation.

Several of Independent Arts' projects already address specific health needs. These include:

Anxiety Café, which gives attendees a chance to meet new people and try new activities;

DanseSense, for people with neurological conditions; and

Singing for Breathing for people with COPD, asthma, or other breathing difficulties.

We also run regular arts for wellbeing projects that are open to all, regardless of whether they have a medical diagnosis, such as DanceMakers, SingAbout and Creative Café.

Please explore our website and, if you need more information, don't hesitate to

contact us


Care Home Art on Display

March 2019

An exhibition of paintings created by residents at Hartford Care (Highfield Nursing Home in Ryde and Springfield Nursing Home in Shanklin) is on display at Highfield (March 2019). Titled "Impressions – Studies on colour and light" it brings together work from Independent Arts workshops in both nursing homes, taking inspiration from the work of famous artists such as Matisse. Click on the picture below to see more of the work.

Highfield art exhibition 2019


New Grant Saves Island Mental Health Project

Press release February 2019

Anxiety Café

Independent Arts has received funding to support its Anxiety Café from The People’s Health Trust. The Trust has provided two-year funding from money raised through The Health Lottery in the South East.

The money will be used to continue the popular mental health project Anxiety Café. Anxiety Café offers people living with anxiety access to free creative sessions to help manage their condition using the arts. Sessions include singing, textiles, movement, mindfulness, crafts and photography. Participants are encouraged to suggest ideas and themes for sessions.

Sessions are open to anyone who lives with anxiety and are held every Wednesday 10.30am-12.30pm in Newport Methodist Church Hall.

Project Manager Hannah Griffiths said,

“We are so pleased to have received this funding to continue our work at Anxiety Café using the arts to improve health. These sessions provide a lifeline for people living with mental health problems. As well as boosting their confidence to try new things it offers them a supportive environment to meet new people.”

If you would like to attend Anxiety Café or learn more, please contact us.


Visit our Winter exhibition

Press release January 2019

IA Time & Tide: Art & Identity exhibition

Art and Identity is the final exhibition created as part of Independent Arts Time & Tide project funded by Arts Council England, and displayed at Dimbola Museum and Gallery.

Time & Tide has paired local history and the arts to bring opportunities for older people to engage with cultural pursuits. Art and Identity was the first foray into portraiture for the artists, many of whom had not even picked up a digital camera before being involved in Time & Tide. The portraits were produced by older people, at workshops run by Independent Arts in Southern Housing Group sheltered housing schemes. The work is inspired by discussing the themes of art and identity and learning about Julia Margaret Cameron’s pioneering work in photography. Local visual artist Julian Winslow mentored the photographers to produce this fantastic body of work.

Project Manager Hannah Griffiths said:

“Art and Identity has been a fitting end to Time & Tide, as our artists were given the opportunity to reflect on themselves and how this year-long project has brought a change in them. The quality of work produced by our older artists has been outstanding. Seeing their confidence grow with every workshop has been wonderful and for many of our artists Time & Tide has been a life changing experience. It has been an honour for Independent arts to give them this opportunity.”

Private view to be held on Friday 11th January 6-8pm & Saturday 12th January 2 – 4pm (older artists to be in attendance)

Art and Identity will run from January 14th until February 17th 2019 at Dimbola Museum and Gallery, Terrace Lane Freshwater. Open 10am – 4pm, closed Monday. Free Entry to the exhibition from 13th – 20th January.


Changing Spaces, making care homes creative places

Press release, October 29th 2018

Changing Spaces

Isle of Wight Charity Independent Arts has received funding from The Dunhill Medical Trust to launch an ambitious two-year project, Changing Spaces, to make care homes a hub for creativity and the arts.

The funding will allow care homes to receive staff training and arts provision to help boost confidence and understanding of the importance of the arts for quality of life, health and wellbeing. In turn these improvements will translate to a better working environment for care staff, a better home for residents and improvements in CQC (Care Quality Commission) reports. The project will be evaluated by a team from Winchester University.

Morning workshops will encourage conversation and sharing, using interesting items from the Museums’ Heritage Loans Service, sound archive, footage, songs, poetry and stories. Afternoons will follow on with a range of arts-based workshops designed to complement the conversation points from the morning. These will include a practical art activity and music or film.

Hannah Griffiths, Project Manager, said:

“We are very grateful to the Dunhill Medical Trust for their support. Changing Spaces is a unique opportunity for residents and staff to learn about the history of the Isle of Wight together, building relationships along the way and providing a creative space to discuss what they have learned.”

Independent Arts is a thriving Island charity that involves 1800 people every month in arts for wellbeing projects. To learn more, get involved or support the charity, please explore the website. For further information about this project please get in touch.


Independent Arts heads to Westminster

Press release, October 2018

Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts was invited to give evidence to parliament on October 10th on the impact of arts and culture on older people involved in their Arts Council funded project Time & Tide. This was an exciting chance to be an influence policy at the highest level.

Project Manager Hannah Griffiths gave a presentation to the room full of MPs and sector peers about how access to the arts can improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness.

Time & Tide’s focus is to unlock creativity in older people on the island by inviting them to dive into the island's arts and heritage and then trying their hand at everything from watercolours to photography to large-scale sculpture.

Hannah said: 

"It was an honour to be invited to speak at the House of Commons on our most recent project Time & Tide. I was able to talk about the huge impact on the lives of our artists. It was important to emphasis that learning new skills has a massive impact on the confidence and wellbeing of the people involved as well as helping to form friendships and reducing loneliness. It was a chance to bring real people to the debate. One delegate commented she would have liked to have been involved in a project as wide ranging and exciting as Time & Tide."

The meeting was held by the all-parliamentary committees (APPGs) for Ageing and Older People; and Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

The island's MP Bob Seely also addressed the meeting.

Independent Arts is a thriving island charity that involves 1800 people every month in arts for wellbeing projects. To learn more, get involved or support the charity, please explore our website and get in touch.




Independent Arts offers a support service to charities and not for profit organisations through our iCreate strand.
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Independent Arts for everyone

Did you know Independent Arts works with small groups and individuals as well as in residential homes?

We can help you arrange music sessions, art classes, photography classes, themed reminiscence sessions and chair-based movement sessions. See our Workshops pages for ideas.

If you are part of an organisation or group and would like to book a practitioner, please
contact us

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What's On?

Find out what's going on this week. Here's our calendar of all Independent Arts' regular community sessions

Independent Arts Calendar


Shopping at Amazon?

Did you know that if you're shopping at Amazon you can support Independent Arts at no extra cost by going through the link below.

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Thank you BalletWorks!

A big thank you to the amazing BalletWorks for inviting our DanceMakers and DanceSense groups to Medina Theatre to watch their company class, ahead of their performances at Medina Theatre on July 26th and 27th, part of the company's outreach to involve the local community and promote dance.

Desks donation

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind have generously donated six state-of-the-art desks to the Independent Arts. Production Director for MHI Vestas Offshore UK, James Luter responded to a request for surplus office furniture and was pleased to donate the desks to the charity.

“It’s great to know that these desks will assist Independent Arts who do fantastic work reaching out to vulnerable members of the community,’ says James.

The height-adjustable desks allow you to stand as well as sit which can help promote good back care as well as providing flexibility if you have to work for long periods sitting down.

“The desks are brilliant and we feel very fortunate to have been given them by MHI Vestas. They will make a much better working environment for staff and volunteers and the sit-stand function is a great option to promote healthier alternatives to sitting for long-periods of time," says Hannah Griffiths, Project Manager at Independent Arts.

MHI Vestas Offshore Wind mission is to co-develop offshore wind as an economically viable and sustainable energy resource to benefit future generations.


Our Pop-up People's Gallery in Newport is now open!

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ReMap is our project to help people living with chronic pain.

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Getting Creative in Care Toolkit available

Our Toolkit for care home activities coordinators, packed full of ideas and guidance for running activities, is available to download.
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Donate to Independent Arts

Please help Independent Arts to improve more people's lives through our community arts projects on the Isle of Wight. To donate securely online to Independent Arts simply click on the "donate" icon below and follow the instructions. 100% of your donation comes to the charity.



For other ways to donate to Independent Arts, or to fundraise for us, see this page.


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