Art Therapy at Solace

As part of our 15 Years Anniversary programme, we gave art therapist Aimee Hickman the opportunity to work therapeutically with clients to produce their own works of art thinking about ‘their journey’.

Aimee’s Art Project

We set up an Art and Wellbeing group and invited participants, living in Sheffield, who had an existing relationship with Solace.  The theme of the art work was around journeys and it was an exploration of our client’s own journeys prior to working with Solace.

Each member was given the simple brief to think about what their journey has meant to them – a self-portrait in which they could explore any style of painting, using any genre of art. Participants spent time designing their pieces and thinking about what they want to say, and to show others about their work and their journeys.


After a very heavy year of isolation which came in its own forms for all of the participants, there was something within the group dynamic which gave space to acknowledging what it meant to be back in a shared space with others.  Interestingly enough the shared silence was equally as powerful to the journeys of each of the participants.  Everyone mentioned at some point how good it felt to be around people but to also have the space to process past experiences through the art work; something separate to using words. 

Please read below for what the people taking part shared about themselves, how the group impacted them and about their art work.

Participant A

Description of self.

A woman, a Mum. We are all human. We are freedom. It is our initial right to be happy – for everybody.

How did you find the art and wellbeing sessions?

It was effective. It was real therapy for me. It was amazing.  Actually, these sessions forced me to share my experience, to release from my scary background. To come face to face with it.  When you escape from some feelings you can’t heal. This course caused me to go to a very deep feeling.  I was very settled. I try to show someone how I suffer and how deep the suffering from the past. It made a healing for me indirectly. 

You were friendly. You never felt like a coach. It was like a friendship art group. The atmosphere was really friendly.

Did it effect your life outside of the group?

I found the people ‘Nobody come’ – It’s an idiom in my country. It’s just me who can help me.  It gave me this feeling a lot.  The first time I didn’t want to talk but it made me feel that I can heal myself with art, nature and meditation.  It gave me confidence.  Sharing your story without words, just pictures.

Another point is that you can disconnect from real life, it’s like meditation, you can disconnect from the outside world.

What does your work represent?

I think this is the best description for my art piece. A poem by Donna Nimmo.

Participant B

Description of self.

My name is Ruth. I am a woman who dreams big.  I like to travel around the World.  I am from Nicaragua. I love my children.

How did you find the art and wellbeing sessions?

I enjoyed the classes. I feel good as it’s only time for me.  I was thinking nothing which is good for me.  I felt good with you and the other guys.  The place was good and near the city centre. In the class I wasn’t a professional but I enjoyed it. I put my country and my job in the painting. I also put my emotion in the painting and I feel very good for that.  I feel good because it’s like when you speak to the other people, when you’re painting it’s like saying what you want to say. But no talking, saying nothing. Just painting.

I enjoyed the time alone for me. I feel only me and the painting to express my emotion. The break from normal life.

Did it effect your life outside of the group?

This class help me for, in this moment I feel more free from the stress, no thinking too much for my problems.  Free for no thinking, no nothing, only painting.  I saw my old life and my new life.  I have this new life. I enjoy my family. The present is that I should focus for the goal in this country. For me, participating in each section of the art, was an escape to the reality that we can live in our difficult moments and be able to relax with each brushstroke.

What does your work represent?

This painting represents how much I love my children and my country and I can express how much I like to help others and enjoy nature.

Participant C

Description of self.

I am Amin, I am from Iran. I loved my homeland and my family, but four years ago, unfortunately, because I was persecuted by the regime, I was forced to leave my homeland forever and take refuge in Germany.  The difficult asylum situation and the ineffective asylum laws made my life there very difficult and hurt my soul, and after three years of uncertainty I decided to immigrate to England again and start from scratch.

 In England, my living conditions were good, but the uncertainty and unanswered request for asylum made my soul and body sicker and more helpless here … I felt like I had reached the end of the road and I had no hope of continuing to live …

At the height of the darkness and despair, I met Ms. Aimee Hickman through the Sheffield City Council, and she helped me wholeheartedly and healed my wounds, ‌and after a period of speech (talking) therapy, I was invited to a painting group through her. …

How did you find the art and wellbeing sessions? 

There, in a friendly and safe environment, I painted my feelings and thoughts on the canvas with the help of *Ms. Aimee* and it vented my anger … Joining this group gave me a sense of self-confidence to come into being …

What does your work represent?

What I meant by drawing this painting was to say, we can only see the appearance of others, and we cannot see their half-hidden, which, like layers of sedimentary rocks, each part is made up of a period and an event.

Participant D

What does your work represent?

This is what I drew so far, a person looks at us with suspicion and refraction in a turbulent and confused environment, as he escapes from a black past whose paintings were burned there in a clash with traditions and religion, to take the sea path and face the result of his decision alone.  In the end, he arrives in a strange country by all accounts for him without any identity or sense of privacy, it is really an absurd and useless life, in fact I was thinking about many things while drawing it, but these are some of what I can translate in words and into another language that I do not master.

In fact, I did not use the realistic style of drawing in order not to waste ideas by focusing on techniques, and I also chose to make my brush strokes harsh and clear for a greater and truer effect.