Mental health, the arts and belongings



This paper explores how and whether people with severe and enduring mental health problems experience belonging through their participation in a range of contemporary artistic practices and spaces. The paper draws on qualitative evidence from in-depth interviews with artists in two Scottish community arts-for-mental-health projects in order to show how such spaces engender geographies of creative recovery, social connectedness and cultural inclusivity. Set against a history of insane ‘outsider art’ and art therapy, ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ positions in relation to the supposedly inclusive cultural city are critically examined. Experiences of artistic belongings are shown as ones constituted by ambiguous and contingent social processes that only partially disrupt ascriptions of difference.