Wash the dust off your soul and combat Blue Monday

Monday 17 Jan 2022, the third Monday in January, is said to be the most depressing day of the year – Blue Monday. So here’s a suggestion to combat those blues – visit an Art Gallery.

I suspect that idea might provoke a bit of a love-hate reaction in some people. If you’re not in the ‘art gallery lover’ camp, galleries can feel like large empty rooms with weird daubs on the wall. Or, conversely, small rooms jammed with crazy stuff.

There can feel like there is pressure to ‘understand’ and ‘interpret’ the ‘feelings’ or ’emotions’ being expressed. It’s just a picture, isn’t it? Some might feel that galleries are reserved for those intellectual, arty types and others feel a bit alien in them. Like they don’t belong. 

I say this because that is how I used to feel.

I really didn’t get it – I’ll be honest there’s some ‘art’ I still don’t get, but that’s alright. 

Many years ago, I was fortunate to have a friend who was an art curator who gave me a tour of Scarborough Art Gallery. The experience made me realise that I was carrying around so many misconceptions of how I was ‘supposed’ to react. Once I let these misconceptions go and just strolled around at my leisure, it literally opened my eyes. My friend did give me some pointers on what to look for, brush strokes, the material used etc which helped a bit but it really wasn’t anything high-brow.

Scarborough Art Gallery (cTony Bartholomew)

You’re not ‘supposed’ to react in any particular way – if you don’t like it, ask yourself the question why? – then move on. When you do find something you like – it can sometimes connect with your very soul and really bring you joy. (Yes, I know I’m sounding like one of those arty types now aren’t I!)

The fact is, and this is the real point, engaging with art makes us happy. Loads of studies have shown that engaging with art and in particular, creating art brings so many positive health benefits, particularly when it comes to mental health.

So stuff Blue Monday. There’s a theory the whole idea was made up just to sell more holidays anyway. It’s based on some vague calculation including days since the last payday, days until the next bank holiday, average temperature, hours of daylight, and the numbers of nights in during the month.

Ok, so some of that might make sense, so counter-balance it with finding your inner Piccaso.

 “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

Pablo Picasso

Here are my suggestions for you to get out there, beet the Blue Monday blues, feel inspired, and wash the dust off your soul:

  • Staithes Gallery, Staithes is a little gem – apart from being one of the most beautiful places in the world this little gallery is also a studio with an art school for every level of skill from complete beginners.
  • Pannett Park, Whitby, right in the heart of Whitby, sharing the sight with Whitby Museum – personally I wouldn’t do one without visiting the other. Regular works on display from the Staithes Group and a changing exhibition programme make it worth frequent visits.
  • Scarborough Art Gallery & Woodend, two for one here – right next door to each other. Always a favourite with me – I love the permanent collections showing Scarborough throughout its many heydays but there’s some great visiting and temporary exhibitions too.
  • Blandscliffe Gallery, Scarborough, a lovely little artist-run gallery that is packed full of heart just off the busy seafront.
  • Old Parcels Office, Scarborough, These are the new kids on the block – only in that this is a new gallery space. As the name suggest this makes use of what was a deserted building – with so much history. A great art space with huge ambition.
  • Tracy Savage Gallery, Scarborough this is just a single artists display – but I absolutely love her work. Even if you don’t have time to sit and dwell inside there’s a great view just from the lovely wide window display. Stop and take in the fantastic detail in her work every time you pass.
  • Seagull Gallery, Filey, supports a range of local/UK based artists and has a great online shop too – there’s some absolute treasures here – I can feel my soul singing just at the thought.
  • There’s a whole little cluster in Bridlington Old Town: Gallery 49, Morten Gallery, Alex May Gallery, Bridlington Old Town Gallery I would suggest you make a whole day of it here – with a stop at the tea rooms to make your day complete.
  • Hornsea Museum, ok not strictly an art gallery but a great place to discover more about the Hornsea Pottery art trail. There are art collections amongst the local history too.
  • Withernsea Lighthouse, again not so much an art gallery but a great space to visit with amazing views, and some art on display too.
By Emma - lover of history, art and adventure

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