THE mind's vivid and vibrant inner workings have been laid bare in a powerful exhibition which showcases the work of talented artists touched by mental illness.

The 12th exhibition called "Beneath the Surface" was organised to mark World Mental Health Day (Saturday, October 10) and features 50 pieces of work by 31 artists.

The artwork is now on public display at three locations across the city - the Hive, The Museum of Royal Worcester and Worcester Arts Workshop.

The exhibitions which displays portraits, landscapes, still life paintings and more abstract and symbolic pieces is designed to showcase the work of artists who might otherwise experience difficulty in accessing the arts.

The exhibition is organised by the Arts in Minds Foundation (AIMs), a charitable foundation with close links to the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and the city's Shrub Hill Workshop.

The aim is to foster positivity, assist recovery and reduce stigma and social exclusion among those with mental health issues.

By providing them with support AIMs develops not only the skills of the artists but their confidence and self-esteem and the artists also have the opportunity to sell their work and select a price. The bulk of the money (90 per cent) goes to the artist and the rest to promote the work of AIMs.

Richard Bray, aged 49, of Worcester, a long term user of mental health services, has been painting since the age of five and said during childhood he was 'forever making models and doing drawings'.

His piece is triptych called "Metamorphosis" and explores transformation in his own life in three stages, creating what he calls a 'heightened reality'.

The artist said he was fascinated by themes of change and decay and said the work charted the progress of his own life, arriving in recent years at a more serene and less troubled place.

He said: "I don't see any point in stopping. I do describe what I do as play but there is a more serious side to it. I draw my inspiration from everywhere, certainly from nature but I don't just paint nature. Ideas change over time. Change and decay fascinate me."

He said his art, which explores physical and emotional change, had allowed him to meet other, like-minded individuals and learn new techniques and share ideas.

Mr Bray is self-taught but enjoys learning new methods. He said: "Beyond that I would like to think it's better to plough your own furrow."

Mr Bray also said AIMs provided support and although that support was not always needed it was reassuring to know it is there.

Project manager Claire Hilton said the quality of the work was very high and said often the challenge was persuading the artists that their work was good enough to be exhibited.

Ms Hilton, herself an artist with a piece on display at the museum called "Fragments", said: "This is a really positive thing for people to be involved in. It puts mental health in a more positive frame for the public.

"I have never had a long term mental health issue. I have suffered with stress and exhaustion. Who hasn't? We live in a time when people are stretched beyond all means.

"I have been touched by others who have more long term issues."

This year’s exhibitions would not be able to take place without the support of the following organisations: Worcester County Council, Arts Council England, Co-operative Community Fund, Allen Lane Trust, Foyle Foundation, Hopmarket Charity, Brandsford Trust, Worcester Health and Care NHS Trust and Eveson Charitable Trust. AIMs is also the charity of Sainsbury's in Blackpole.

Exhibition Opening Times and venues:

(1) Museum of Royal Worcester: October 9 – November 7, 10am – 4pm daily

(2) Worcester Arts Workshop: October 10 – November 2 (Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 3pm)

(3) The Hive: September 29 to October 30, 8:30am – 10pm daily

For further information please contact Art in Minds Foundation on 07442 496046 or