Lending A Helping Hand

Something that sets Center Pottery’s classes apart from other studios is the strong emphasis we place on the concepts of mindfulness and self-care. Our primary objective, after all, is to help mental health patients on their road to recovery.

We do this through classes taught at the Institute for Mental Health (IMH) to outpatients, people who still face issues but are well on their way to recovery, as well as collaborating with organisations like the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to create courses for persons with mental health issues.

We conduct weekly lessons with the outpatients of IMH, teaching them basic hand-building techniques. The patients find that the somewhat tedious process of hand-building to create smooth, functional pieces helps them in their recovery, saying that it “gives them something to focus on”, and “teaches [them] patience”.

Since June 2017, Center Pottery has been working with SAMH by conducting classes for persons with mental health. The classes are part of a 14-week course, split evenly between pottery lessons conducted by Center Pottery, where the students learn hand-building techniques, and dance lessons, conducted by a dance instructor. We are currently at the halfway mark with the second batch of students, who began the course with the dance lessons.

Additionally, for students who wish to learn pottery making through the use of the wheel, we do conduct individual or small-group classes, also on a weekly basis, for students at our pottery studio at Jalan Bahar. Wheel techniques have their own set of challenges, but all the same, it helps the patients in calming their minds, and aiding in their recovery.

Though working with mental health patients can be a challenging endeavour, it is also a very rewarding one, seeing how happy they are with their creations, and watching them develop in various ways. Some students have told us that the lessons help them “learn to accept small mistakes” and move on from them, or that they feel “calmer” and “more present” during the lessons.

For the students, art therapy is helpful as they are able to express themselves through a preferred medium. Clay in particular can be seen as a sort of parallel to our sense of self, because if you are not satisfied with your works, you can always re-shape the clay.