In a night of live music, poetry, performance and art ‘Artdress-It‘ was brought to life for the first time creating a platform using art mediums to explore stories about culture, society and the self.
On the 1st of December at the beloved Deaf Institute, Sophia Hadji-Michael, Jasmine Rowland and Jacob Dunn presented a wonderful array of performers bringing their personal experiences of mental health, disability, discrimination and many more relevant issues to light through creative self-expression. Sophia and Jasmine performed passionate spoken word pieces on Grenfell, serving as a reminder of the continuing lack of justice for the victims.
With performances ranging from laid-back acoustic sessions to emphatic spoken word, Artdress-It Live attracted an overwhelming number of people coming to watch great performances and show their support for mental health awareness. A ‘safe space of self-expression and grooves’, the atmosphere was buzzing, the crowd cheering after each new poem or song. Downstairs was a cosy basement room that set the scene for intimate acoustic sets. Beautifully written songs from artists on topics ranging from social anxiety to living with a disability brought deeply personal experiences to light. The soft, lo-fi sounds of Mike Gardner’s (aka. Fordaze) ‘Always Smiling’ featured lyrics I’m sure many a final year student can relate to, such as “I hate being asked what are you up to now”.
With donation buckets dotted around the venue and a percentage of drinks prices going to mental health charities Mind and Movember, the event was not only about celebrating art, but supported a hugely important cause. According to Movember, 75% of suicides in the UK are men. Movember’s goal of reducing the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030 is more important than ever. As the leading global organisation working to change the face of men’s health, Movember’s ground-breaking projects promoting well-being, health awareness, and mental health interventions amongst men have changed lives all around the world. With phrases like “man-up” and “grow some balls” being tossed around daily, it is time for toxic masculinity to be challenged.
With this in mind, the idea for Artdress-It Live came to Jasmine and Sophia following Jasmine’s first spoken word performance at Fuel bar in Withington, where Jasmine was asked if she had ever done her own event. After a conversation with Sophia about her blog ‘Artdress It’, the idea for the event came together. Reaching out to performers on Facebook through Fallowfield Students Group, Manchester musicians, and societies such as Manchester Metropolitan performing society and creative writing, Jasmine, Sophia, and Jacob were met with an overwhelming number of messages from people eager to perform (and the realisation that they were going to need a bigger venue) It goes to show that talent is thriving in Manchester’s student communities and platforms such as Artdress-It can showcase these.
The inspiration behind the event comes from Sophia’s blog aiming to connect art and journalism. Performances ranging from spoken word on catcalling to songs about ‘the internet, people with furry tails and the futility of life’ inspired dialogue surrounding mental health and really resonated with listeners. A set from an ex-ambassador for Mind beautifully captured the importance of self-worth and caring for the people around you – something we all could do with hearing. To finish the night on a high, a DJ set filled with groovy tunes took to the stage.
If you didn’t catch last Sunday’s event then don’t worry, Artdress-It Live will be back next year. With plans to hold more events at Deaf Institute, with more singers, poets, artists and writers are yet to come.