Creative Dundee

Creative Community Wellbeing in Dundee

Three creative practitioners share how creativity can positively impact the lives and mental health of local communities in a film by Bonnie MacRae.

Creative Dundee firmly believes that culture and creativity positively impacts our lives and places. Every day we see the transformative effects that artists, designers and makers generate with, by, for and of communities in Dundee.

Culture and creativity can still be seen by a few as an add-on, a luxury or ‘not for me’, yet culture is a fundamental human right. Whether it’s listening to music, knitting a scarf, playing a video game or instrument, or going to see your kids perform in a school play – we are all creative, and these activities can and do improve our sense of wellbeing. 

We commissioned local filmmaker Bonnie MacRae to produce a film highlighting some of the very many Dundee-based creative practitioners who are positively impacting the mental health of local communities and sense of belonging they experience. We’re grateful to the featured artists and designers for sharing with us: Gordy Craw, Cara Rooney and Stephanie Graham.

Bonnie shares more about making the film: “Working on this film alongside Creative Dundee has been a really special experience. To meet Gordy, Cara and Stephanie and see the work they’re doing amongst their individual communities within the city has been really inspiring. Their work is pivotal in providing a creative, safe, engaging environment for participants and I feel really lucky to have been allowed a first-hand insight into each of their practices.

When Creative Dundee asked me to make a short documentary highlighting the connection between mental health and creativity amongst Dundonian communities, I jumped at the chance. It’s really important to me to work on projects that shine a light on good people doing good things. It’s been such a great opportunity to provide the participants space and time to chat about their work and how important it is in helping the wider community, in whatever way that may be. It was a really great chance as well to involve other creatives from around the city. I’ve worked with DJ/artist Kerr Darling before and it was really great to be able to include his music within the film. 

I think what Creative Dundee are doing in facilitating a conversation around the connection between mental health and creativity is really vital, and to be part of that in even a small way has been amazing. Sometimes it can be hard to see past the negative headlines the city can often be associated with; this film, I hope, really provides a platform for people to acknowledge the positive work happening amongst it all. 

I really love and want to continue highlighting people and stories that aren’t always found in mainstream media. My debut short film, All Up There, funded by GMAC Films, is due to come out later this year which I can’t wait for. I’m used to working on more narrative pieces so to make this mini doc has been a new and exciting experience for me. It’s so important to me to continue telling stories that represent my own upbringing and where I come from – thank you to Creative Dundee for allowing me the opportunity to highlight these brilliant hometown creatives.”

As a city recognised for its leading cultural offer and creative industries, Dundee also faces significant challenges impacting our residents, which are further being impacted by the cost of living crisis and the climate emergency. Creative Dundee sees culture and creativity as integral to connecting and harnessing ways forward through greater collaboration and collective action. 

We’re proud to continue partnering with individuals and organisations who understand the momentum and opportunities to collaborate, and extend special thanks to Bonnie MacRae and the Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Level 1 Fund for enabling this project to happen. 

Creative Community Wellbeing in Dundee 

A film by Creative Dundee and Bonnie MacRae. 

This film explores the impact of creativity on wellbeing, and contains passing reference to mental health crises and isolation in Dundee.

We’re grateful to the featured artists and designers for sharing with us: Gordy Craw, Cara Rooney and Stephanie Graham.

This film has been enabled by the Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund – Level 1 award. 

Film: Bonnie MacRae
Camera: Nelisa Alcalde 
Music: Kerr Darling 

Bonnie MacRae creates films, music videos and bespoke digital campaigns for global brands. She makes films surrounding youth culture and current social issues and cares about mental health advocacy and is always looking for new ways to tell stories that strive to give voice to those deriving from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds. Commissions include Screen Scotland, BBC Studios, NHS Scotland, The Mental Health Foundation, Creative Dundee and Columbia Records.

Cara Rooney is an illustrator, plaything maker and workshop facilitator based in Dundee, She creates illustrations, interactive books and toys, portraying fascination for the natural world and childlike curiosity. Through anthropomorphism, interactivity and play with scale, she hopes her work encourages people to empathise more with little creatures and make efforts to protect our planet.

Gordy Craw is an artist, illustrator and animator working in Dundee. Using ink, watercolour and digital painting, he creates prints, album covers, gig posters, murals and cryptic busy drawings. Recent projects include Faces of Lochee, a series of portraits of individuals in recovery, and Stobswell Pocket Places murals with Sustrans.

Stephanie Graham is a contemporary jeweller, designer and social entrepreneur based in Dundee. She’s the founder of Natla Jewellery Studio, a more than profit organisation with the aim to provide a craft-centric holistic approach to recovery, and its sister-CIC Dundee Community Craft. Based at The Circle, Stephanie is working towards making Dundee the European capital of recovery by creating safe spaces for people to come together, using creativity to cope with and heal from trauma.

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