‘Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness.”
art and wellness
There is growing scientific evidence that proves art can enhance brain function. It has an impact on our emotions, brain wave patterns, the nervous system and can actually raise serotonin levels which make us feel happier.
Professor S.Zeki, head of neuroaesthetics at UCL conducted an experiment to see what happens in the brain when we look at beautiful paintings. He concluded that there is a connection between art and wellness as;
when we look at art “whether it is a landscape, a still life, an abstract or a portrait – there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.
“The participants underwent brain scans while being shown a series of 30 paintings by major artists. When viewing art the participants considered most beautiful their blood flow increased in their brain by as much as 10%, which is the same increase as gazing at a loved one.” Paintings by John Constable, Ingres, and Guido Reni produced the most powerful ‘pleasure’ response.
When we observe a profound piece of art we are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it, thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration. This sense of being drawn into a painting is called “embodied cognition” says writer J. Devsney
Art helps us work through our physical and mental vulnerability. Former editor R.Smith of BMJ made a very interesting point – ‘if health is about adaptation, understanding and acceptance, then the arts may be more potent than anything that medicine has to offer’.
art gives purpose
Art can change our outlook and the way we experience the world. It can raise the spirits and strengthen the soul, it can help us make sense of our surroundings and change us and our society for the better.
We can survive reasonably well in an interior that has no art, but then there is no purpose to it.
Art brings purpose, meaning and adds value to one’s life.
Our wellbeing is first and foremost dependent on our emotional and mental state. Thus creating interiors which support our overall wellbeing must include artwork that reflects the issues the inhabitant can understand and relate to.
Including artwork in interior design doesn’t mean we have to spend considerable sums of money. We can easily find affordable pieces or art in a local market or side street, how much a piece costs should not define its’ real value to you.
art is therapeutic
The strongest link between art and wellness is of course in therapy. Philosopher Alain de Botton explains very distinctly how art benefits individuals and is often used as therapy:
- Helps with memory by seeing something as it is instead of receiving too much information all at once
- Gives hope and generates positivity
- Deals with feelings of sadness and sorrow
- Gives us balance and perspective
- Helps us to understand the way we think, feel and behave with the world.
- Guides us to grow by assisting in self-knowledge which help us be better people.
- Makes us appreciate situations and life, by looking at what we already have which in turn increases our feeling of happiness.
We believe art should start a conversation rather than dull it, conflicting opinions on art should be celebrated not avoided. If we have an emotional response to a piece of art then it is a success! Perhaps the meaning of art and wellness is that it’s there to support us in our feelings and to help us rediscover our sense of self.