By Patti Broughton

Ten years ago, the local chapter of the CMHA had a dream of a new space in Guelph for their clients. The CMHA WWD provides a full care system for those with addictions, mental health or developmental needs. They serve everyone from children to adults to seniors, all under one roof. Their programs help individuals and families to lead lives filled with meaning and promise.

Their dream was for an art-filled space that would warmly welcome people into the facility and convey a strong sense of hope, possibility and optimism, supporting their conviction that people can recover, and many people do recover, from mental illness.

After a few bumps in the road, the CMHA’s dream for a new facility had finally become reality, and they were ready to fill it with art. With support from Guelph Arts Council, they distributed a call to regional artists to propose art pieces for acquisition. The arts community responded to the call with enthusiasm. With 26 entries and a limited budget the CMHA’s selection committee had some tough choices to make. In the end, the work of eight area artists was selected: Marnie Dallan, Deborah Dryden, Jessica Masters, James Nye, Carol Tinga, Sylvia Galbraith, Frances Hahn and Nancy Yule.

Photos by Nomawn Shahzad and Katie Wilde

Post-installation, the artists, CMHA staff and Guelph Arts Council staff and volunteers gathered on April 13 to celebrate in the new space. The following are some photos and comments from project participants:

“CMHA WWD has benefited from a unique partnership with Guelph Arts Council which provided invaluable assistance in commissioning art work for CMHA WWD’s new building at 80 Waterloo Ave in Guelph. We are delighted to be able to incorporate original art from local artists into our new building. Thanks to the vision of our former Executive Director, Vern Lediett, and the help of Guelph Arts Council, our staff and residents who use our services are now able to enjoy beautiful works of art that inspire hope. The art not only infuses our new building with colour and beauty, it also remind us of how enriched we are by art and the important role of Guelph Arts Council in supporting and fostering the work of local artists.”

– Fred Wagner, Executive Director, CMHA WWD

“It was such a great pleasure to meet some of the other artists and how our different styles melded into a cohesive atmosphere. I was fortunate to meet one of the CMHA employees who mentioned that he had just come back from sick leave. He said that when he walked back into work and saw my art in the lobby, he felt that it represented his journey. Rising from some depth to rising above, shining brighter than ever. Truly the message that I hoped my work would convey! And a wonderful reminder of how powerful our visual communication is! A true honour to have been a part of this amazing opportunity.”

– Nancy Yule, Artist, Cambridge, ON

“I am so grateful to CMHA WWD for their vision for their new environment, and for their appreciation of the role art can play in creating a welcoming, inspiring workplace and, most importantly, centre for healing. It was a delight to collaborate with the staff of the CMHA WWD, and I thank them and their predecessors for creating this opportunity for regional artists. The project is an example of the partnerships we can build in the community sector to enrich lives in lasting and meaningful ways.”

– Patti Broughton, Executive Director, Guelph Arts Council

I am very pleased to be part of CMHA’s recent acquisition of local original art.  I think it was very forward thinking and astute of them to purchase local artists’ art.  It gives both the artists a sense of contributing to community and CMHA having original art that reflects their mission statement.

– Deborah Dryden, Artist, Fergus, ON

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