DDN Magazine October 2023 DDN_October_2023 | Page 11

DELIVERED OVER MANCHESTER PRIDE WEEKEND , artist Harold Offeh set up a vintage radio show-themed art installation in city ’ s the gay village to explore conversations on chemsex . A packed-out panel discussion featuring high profile figures from Manchester ’ s queer community followed at Manchester Art Gallery Coronation Street actor Sue Devaney ’ s premiere of Didn ’ t You Used to be Somebody ? sold out at HOME arts centre and music producer Quieting recorded thoughts and stories on recovery and homelessness for a musical sound experience at The Stoller Hall . Melanie Manchot ’ s first feature film , Stephen ( 2023 ), blurs the lines between fact and fiction to examine addiction and recovery . The preview sold out quickly and was moved to a larger screen . Finally , To the Sun , Moon and Stars saw textile artist Lois Blackburn deliver a series of arts and recovery workshops at Gallery Oldham ( back where it all started ), commissioned by Oldham Council ’ s substance misuse team . Main picture , opposite : A group of recoverists on their way to see Melanie Manchot ’ s film Stephen . Portraits of Recovery ’ s Mark Prest is crouching front centre , with artist and film maker Melanie Manchot to his right .
To my amazement , he agreed , getting on board with a series of artist-led self-portraiture workshops by painter David Hancock alongside an exhibition of artworks for and by people in recovery . Called Portraits of Recovery , the title later became the name of the arts organisation I now run .
My second proposal was for an R & D project called Addict , with artist Melanie Manchot . The central premise was an art dialogue in recovery exploring descents into and out of addiction , and for mapping journeys of recovery . This took some six years to realise , later becoming the multi-channel video installation
Twelve , which toured nationally .
LIVED EXPERIENCE The Portraits of Recovery pilot was a success . Participant outcomes included enrolment on local arts courses and increased confidence for volunteering . Local drug and alcohol services ’ ears pricked up and gallery audiences responded positively to the authenticity of the works on show . What I also realised was that new life opportunities had opened up for me through combining my cultural assets with my lived experience . If it could work for me then why not for others ?
In 2011 , I founded the visual arts charity Portraits of Recovery ( PORe ) - an organisation that works with contemporary art , artists and people and communities in recovery to create inspirational art for reimagining the world we live in . It was a slog working from home with little funding . PORe was just me , but I had done it . A raft of projects followed , in a range of art forms , and working with multiple partners . A 2015 project called Typecast saw people in recovery work with clay , to create an exhibition at Manchester School of Art . In 2017 , young Asian men in recovery took part in workshops with artist Sutapa Biswas . The
work resulted in a bold , neon artwork at Rochdale bus station , now in the permanent collection of Touchstones Rochdale .
In late 2022 , I had some incredible news . After a lengthy process , PORe had secured Arts Council England ’ s National Portfolio Organisation ( NPO ) status . Alongside securing three years ’ regular funding , it also meant national recognition for changing the conversation around addiction and recovery through art . We were now able to run regular programmes throughout the year .
A long-time ambition was to mark International Recovery Month , and PORe ’ s Recoverist Month launched this year – an annual programme of cultural events for celebrating the aspirational hopes , fears , and dreams of Greater Manchester ’ s recovery communities . In case you ’ re not familiar with the term , recoverist = recovery + activist . The programme ’ s aim is to put recovery communities centre stage by increased visibility and directly supporting the voice of lived experience .
FLAGSHIP EVENT PORe ’ s aim is to establish Recoverist Month as a yearly flagship cultural event , as a parallel to Black History Month and Pride . As the UK ’ s only contemporary visual arts
PORe ’ s aim is to establish Recoverist Month as a yearly flagship cultural event , as a parallel to Black History Month and Pride . As [ a ] visual arts organisation working in recovery we take our mission seriously .
organisation working in recovery , we take our mission seriously .
This November , we host a post- Recoverist Month stakeholders ’ event at The Whitworth gallery with speakers including mayor of Greater Manchester , Andy Burnham . Sharing our success , we hope to garner support from decision makers for embedding Recoverist Month within Greater Manchester ’ s annual cultural calendar . No mean feat but after that , who knows : the world is our oyster !
Mark Prest is the founder and director of Portraits of Recovery