Coronavirus restrictions mean that ecotherapy project Livability Flourish can’t welcome the public to their wildlife-friendly summer garden at the moment – but with the Flourish at Home Art to Fundraise, they’re inviting artists to share summer blooms with an online audience.

Artists are invited to create and donate one or more postcard-size images in any medium, on the theme of bee-friendly flowers and plants. This inclusive project wants to inspire artists young and old, professional and amateur, of all abilities, reflecting Flourish’s diverse and inclusive ethos. Artists’ completed images will be displayed in the Flourish online gallery, available for sale for a minimum £20 donation.

Flourish supports individuals who live with disability or mental health challenges, engaging and training people in horticulture and eco-skills, conservation and crafts. Just as important is Flourish’s role in building friendships and community connections, with many service users naming this social contact as a key aspect of Flourish. 75% of individuals attending Flourish report a high sense of wellbeing after four months’ participation, and some go onto volunteering, employment or education. ‘It’s nice to feel useful,’ says one client, and another adds: ‘A lot of fun and laughter today – I’m buzzing!’

The initiative is part of Flourish’s annual fundraising appeal, which due to the pandemic, has been forced to move online to raise much-needed funds for Flourish at Livability’s wellbeing discovery centre Holton Lee, near Poole. The centre is home to a beautiful flower garden, large vegetable plots and 350 acres of Dorset countryside. Usually the site is open to the public and welcomes people with disabilities, those living with mental health issues and people wanting to improve their wellbeing.  The space has become a haven to many as it provides the opportunity to learn new skills, work with others and connect with nature. Guests can also enjoy walks, nature-spotting and accessible trails, and the opportunity to buy fresh produce and craft items created at Flourish.

‘With the art world having to take a rest during the lockdown, we thought this was good timing to launch an online gallery of artworks that can raise money for the project,’ says Emma Browning, Wellbeing Programmes Manager. ‘Like most charities and businesses, Covid-19 has had a financial impact on Flourish and a fundraising project at this point will help greatly with the additional costs we will incur moving forward. The artworks will be available for sale during September, when we would have normally hosted our annual community fair, now postponed. This offers an opportunity for new and old friends and supporters of Holton Lee to support us in a different way.’
Dorset artist Maria Burns says she is taking part because she’s seen the value of Holton Lee’s work at first-hand: ‘My dad attended the Flourish project when he had Alzheimer’s and I saw the benefit [to him]. He was a very sociable man so he loved being surrounded by friendly people on the project. It’s a really lovely and very peaceful place at Holton Lee. My dad always loved gardening, so the Flourish project gave him the opportunity to carry on with one of his passions in a safe way.’

Closing date for postcard entry is 24 August 2020 and artwork will be on display until the end of September.