About BrightSparks

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Originally run informally, BrightSparks is a formally constituted arts in mental health group. It’s central principles are: to use the arts to promote positive images of mental health; social inclusion; and service user and carer involvement. It exists to acknowledge, support, and showcase the creative talent that exists within the mental health community through an expanding portfolio of creative projects. These include: The BrightSparks Annual Showcase, The Brighter Side and Artspace.


Tim Sayers
Tel: 0795 687 9482 Email:  timsayers87@gmail.com

Lydia Towsey
Tel: 07888 847840
Email: secretagentartist@hotmail.com

BrightSparks Annual Showcase

BrightSparks began with The BrightSparks Art Exhibition and The BrightSparks Guildhall Show. These are still our longest running projects. They are programmed to coincide with World Mental Health Day and take place at the Leicester City Gallery and The Guildhall, respectively. The annual showcase events are always oversubscribed and the audiences widely attended. Many BrightSparks artists have since gone on to develop successful careers in the arts.

The Brighter Side

The Brighter Side is a performance poetry based project, working with identified statutory and voluntary sector services. Ideally, each project consists of a series of performance poetry workshops (facilitated by reformed psychiatric nurse and performance poet Rob Gee) and a series of illustration workshops (facilitated by Lydia). The workshops result in a high profile performance of all the work generated, usually at a mainstream venue. We also produce an accompanying illustrated journal of work.


ArtSpace provides  professional facilitation for artists experiencing mental health and social exclusion issues. It came about as a result of steadily mounting demand for BrightSparks to develop a regular group, where the people who contributed work to our annual shows could come to socialise and develop their practice with support.

Time: 1Pm Till 3Pm, Wednesdays

Location: Embrace Arts@ The Richard Attenborough Centre, Leicester University, university Road.

Artspace is our weekly art workshop. It’s free to attend, and you can just turn up – no referral or application is needed. On average there are 8 to 10 people at the workshop, though attendance varies from 3 to 18. We employ various professional artists as tutors for a series of several weeks or months, along with an assistant artist. The tutor leads us in a particular project, often over the course of the first 3 or 4 weeks of the month. Recent activities have included: illustrating poems, making polystyrene print-blocks and printing with them, making ‘mandalas’ in paint and collage, drawing portraits with chalk pastels, working on self-portraits using collages of photocopies of photographs. The tutor will also help and advise people who want to work independently on their own projects at the workshop. During the sessions, people are free to take a break and come and go – we understand that it can be hard to stay focussed for the whole two hours session. ArtSpace also stages events and touring exhibitions throughout the year.

BrightSparks Who’s Who

Secretary: Tim Sayers is the Creative Arts Coordinator (job share) for LPT. He is a Community Psychiatric Nurse, founder of BrightSparks and the holder of an LPT Celebration of Achievement Award. As well as being lead singer for Bombdogs, he can ride a uni-cycle and do workshops. Though not at the same time.

Chair: Lydia Towsey job shares the role of Creative Arts Coordinator for LPT with Tim. In 2005 she won a NIMHE award for best practice in the category of Arts and Mental Health. She is a professional freelance poet, headlining at venues across the UK and widely published in a variety of small press publications. She has project managed and workshop led on a number of Arts Council England, Leicester City Libraries and NHS funded arts in mental health projects.

Treasurer: Janet Blow is a registered accountant. She’s very nice.


7 Responses to “About BrightSparks”

  1. this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea — liar, liar, pants on fire at Poetry Thursday Says:

    […] of that blog. And what a great first reader she is. Not only is she a poet, she also organizes Brightsparks, an arts in mental health project in the […]

  2. Alex Says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  3. rick mobbs Says:

    You guys are great. Wish we had something similar here. Good luck with the upcoming events.

  4. tony walker Says:

    Hi I am Tony. If you’re reading this and you have attended any of the Brightsparks workshops since August 2008 i want to give you a few details about myself as you may not know me. Latterly, i have been a full-time volunteer at 27a Access Artspace from Nov ’08 – Feb ’08 as part of New Deal (i am critical of this and other Welfare to work policies regards mental health issues and much else).

    My arts background is varied – in the 6th form i produced a large garden metal sculpture (involved bending,, some forging, welding and casting etc.) which was sold to pay for materials. Someone once offered me £50 for a picasso white emulsion on board experiment i did. It hung in the craft centre until the council decided they had had enough of craft centres! i am doing a sculpture class at the moment. My art experience includes life drawing, still life, mono printing, drawing. painting, photography. Still learning. i am influenced by rudolf steiner! When i came back to leicester i found art a great therapy though looking back maybe i should have taken it more seriously. Though normally taking things seriously is something i do too much. I think my art as improved since i started to take it more seriously and not take too seriously the efforts of the jobcentre to find me a job!

    i have some insight into mental health problems as i suffered from depression for a while during and after university. Strangely, my condition seemed to improve after i stopped taking prescription drugs and left leicester for a while. Later, i was a CSV volunteer in Bradford working with homeless families and in Cardiff i worked with single homeless and alcoholic men. All very sobering. i also have personal experience of working as a volunteer at the west end day centre for nearly a year. i was briefly involved with action for mental health for a short while in the 1980’s. Seems a long time ago. i was a peace campaigner in the mid 80’s. more besides.

    i like most music including punk, jazz, folk, blues, rock, psychedelia. My interest in poetry really comes from being interested in the song lyrics of people like Dylan and Cohen and other song writers like Jackson Browne. Quite keen on Nico. i tend to like other thoughtful or depressing forms of music LOL.

    People interest me!

    Best wishes tony

  5. “Rebellion” poems « Brightsparks Says:

    […] every Wednesday afternoon from 1pm till 3pm at 27a Access Artspace, 60 Northgate Street. (See our “About” page for more details.) However on the last week of each month, we have a poetry workshop instead of […]

  6. dating in cardiff Says:

    You can definitely see your skills within the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  7. David Andrew Neale Says:

    Well done to all performers of the Comedy Asylum for tonight’s show at Embrace Arts. Not laughed so much in ages, you should be on the NHS :)

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