Participant Case Study: “I like to challenge myself”

Date published: 5 Feb 2015

Posted by: Joe Pick

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Kevin Delany on his pursuit of new artistic outlets…

Having been involved in a number of City Arts’ projects, Kevin Delany is clear that it is the act of creating art he most values, and not the final product, . “I don’t keep my work, I just give it away. I give it to my friends – they appreciate it more. I just like doing different things.”

More often than not the creative process is completely engrossing, an opportunity to disconnect from the world and direct ones energy and emotion into something constructive. “If I get upset, I don’t want to get angry and raise my voice… being creative helps me to calm down.”

Kevin first became aware of City Arts through Streetwise Opera back in 2012. The charity, which uses music to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness affect change in their lives, took part in our Breath of Sound project for the international festival World Event Young Artists.

Since early 2013 Kevin has attended our regular ‘Get Creative’ art workshops. The sessions are paid for out of a personal budget that Kevin receives from the City Council. The scheme, called Self-Directed Support, allows disabled people to decide and control the type of support they receive. In April 2013, we celebrated the group’s work with a mini-exhibition.

Coming to the workshops led to other opportunities. He joined Concert Club, a project we ran with Nottingham’s Royal Centre with the aim of introducing a new audience to their classical music programme. Attendees learned about the history of classical music, met professional musicians and received free tickets to concerts by the Halle and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras.

Men with musical shakers

The first set of sessions in a series of workshops run in conjunction with the University of Nottingham gave Kevin the opportunity to explore therapeutic benefits of working with clay. “I’d only made one cup before this. I enjoy working with my hands, getting them mucky.”

Kevin has a lot to contend with: bereavement, social isolation, memories of mistreatment at the hands of his father. Despite repeated college courses he struggles to read and write. Aged 63 his spine is crumbling, “It’s like a disease; they can’t cure it. They’ve slowed it down a bit but I’ll be in a wheelchair soon. I’m doing as much as I can before that happens.”

Kevin avoids addressing these negative experiences in his work. He tried once, “it was all black, that was my way of getting it out of my system. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I just did it because it was something to do at the time. It taught me to concentrate on what I am doing now, not what happened in the past.”

Now creating art is a wholly positive experience, “It just relaxes me… Music or art, I sit there and it relaxes me. That’s why I do it.”

In the past Kevin was terrified of people; he wouldn’t leave the house. He only socialised with his mother & her friends. Now he gets out, meets people and enjoys it; he attributes his increase in confidence to his involvement with City Arts. He is proud of this progress. “I’ve made friends here. I help out. I try to get on with everyone I can.”

It is the variety of activities offered in the Get Creative workshops, as well the other opportunities accessible through City Arts, which keeps Kevin coming back. The workshops, courses and events we offer satisfy a restless need for more opportunities, new friendships & fresh experiences. “I like to challenge myself with new tasks, like pottery or singing. It’s more fun. I enjoy getting into something new. I like to give myself challenges.”

If you receive Self-Directed Support and would like to join Get Creative call Kate Duncan on 0115 950 5251, or email