Arts in Health by Alison Mercer

Alison Mercer, guest designer for Healthy Living & Wellbeing Week, explores the link between health and art.Alison Mercer

Alison Mercer is a textile artist, arts in health practitioner and researcher in textiles at the Royal College of Art. Here she discusses her research into arts in health, particularly in textiles.

'Arts in Health'

“As a textile practitioner I know making makes me happy, satisfied and provides a feeling of wellbeing. As a researcher I am interested in looking closely at textile making processes to observe if this is also happening for others.

“Participation in craft activities and particularly in textiles, knitting, crochet, stitching, weaving and embroidery has become synonymous with wellbeing interventions, holistic therapies and cultural experiences.

“Groups have formed as a result of interested and passionate makers coming together for social bonding, inclusive learning and a purposeful lifestyle.

“Textile Making alleviates feelings of loneliness and stress. It can provide a gentle intervention for people with mobility issues and other chronic conditions as it can be embedded into daily activity and around busy schedules.

“Textile making benefits individual wellbeing more than you might expect. It offers a quiet permissive space to be yourself once again.

“Bodily encountering with textile materials opens a conversation with the subconscious self –enabling the inner voice of creative expression to be intuitive explored. The outcome of this experience is twofold, we understand our core values, beliefs and ourselves better, providing courage to live a life true to who we really are.  Additionally we create something from textile ‘stuff’ that can be a new memory, keepsake or a gift for a friend.

“‘Arts in Health’ is a growing, dynamic paradigm that offers new insights into the health benefits of textile making and the wider arts.  Using making as self-care can be a useful skill to make a positive effect and meaning in your life.

“Creativity through craft making is an excellent example of everyday participation in self-care that leads to better mental health with an added visual, tangible outcome. There is a lot of research evidence that supports craft making as beneficial for the mind, body and soul.”

About Alison Mercer

As well as working with the Royal College of Art, Alison is also an exhibiting member of Fibre Art Wales and exhibits textile artworks nationally and internationally.

Recent exhibitions include Hong Kong University, Cheongju International Craft Biennale, Fiberart International USA and SOFA New York and Santa Fe.

Alison’s research aims to communicate textile making as a valuable transformational practice for everyday life, wellbeing, community, ancestral legacy, cultural value, maternal mattering and psychoanalysis.

Paper pocket folder

A white paper folder decorated with purple bumble bees and tied with brown raffia

Discover the health benefits of textile making through Alison’s pretty paper folder tutorial on My WI.


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