The Paisley Recovery Pattern

29th June 2017

In September 2016, Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) supported a bid, by The NetWork Vocational Rehabilitation Service, to recruit a Community Arts Graduate Intern. The Intern role was created to support local communities to develop The Paisley Recovery Pattern.

In this article Nadine Kelly the Community Artist (Artist in Residence) hired for the project gives an overview of the process and outcomes.

The project

The Paisley Recovery Pattern is a community art and design project which captures the journey made by people in recovery from mental health and addiction issues. The project involves people, using services, experimenting with and learning a number of new skills through artistic practices as well as building on their own knowledge of materials and visual art. The final outcome of the project is to create a pattern, from participant contributions, that is inspired by people in recovery and their families living in the Renfrewshire area.

The Sunshine Recovery Café

The Sunshine Recovery Café is an award winning, volunteer led, recovery project in Paisley. It offers a safe, alcohol and drug free environment where people in recovery can link up with peers, access support, advice and a number of activities to support wellbeing. The Sunshine Recovery Café has acted as a hub for the design of The Paisley Recovery Pattern by hosting the weekly art and design workshops.

A creative approach

This collaborative project aims to encourage involvement in meaningful, positive activity while encouraging engagement in the creative arts. Individuals at various stages of recovery have an opportunity to express their journey creatively. The workshops are client led, meaning participants are able to express what new creative approaches they would like to try. This encourages ownership of the new skills and activities they learn.

As Artist in Residence my main role was to provide creative workshops leading to the creation of The Paisley Recovery Pattern and to support the development of a range of themed products. These products will be used as part of the Sunshine Recovery Café’s identity and brand with a view to generating income for the project.

Throughout the duration of the project, a large variety of workshops and drop in sessions have been delivered. These have included:

  • Mirror painting
  • Glass painting
  • Embroidery
  • Origami
  • Mono printing
  • Jewellery making
  • Photography and using Photoshop
  • Collage
  • Sharing sessions

One participant commented:

I enjoyed creating on my own and as part of a group and in a group more things can be learned and you can help each other.



Photography proved to be particularly effective and this led to the creation of a photography group. Participants had the chance to learn the basics of photography and composition through researching techniques and photographers that inspired them.

The group accessed various locations around Paisley where they felt they could recreate similar images to those of the professional photographers as well as areas of interest to themselves. Each participant showed a great level of interest and enthusiasm and the group encouraged one another to be creative with their shots. This was amazing to see and was reflected in the quality work people produced, experimenting and editing their photographs at West College Scotland.

This was also an opportunity for participants to experience an educational environment again and allowed them access to equipment that had not previously been possible. This sparked a great passion in the group. Participants have expressed an interest in continuing to work on their own personal photography as well as requesting the group continues.

One group member commented:

Photography is an interesting subject, although we only did the basics, this was interesting. I found it constructive and enjoyable to learn new things, it was fun to take part.

Project outcomes

The project has provided an opportunity for people touched by mental health and addiction to break down stigma and have their voices heard whilst expressing their personal journey through their issues and into recovery.

Many participants are keen to challenge the stigma and stereotypes they are often labelled with. It was decided that one way this is achievable is to exhibit The Paisley Recovery Pattern and the art work created within a public and mainstream setting. There will be an exhibition of the art work and products created during the month of August 2017 at Paisley Museum.

As well as allowing more exposure to the work the aim is also to instil pride in participants. Exhibiting the work will allow participants to show friends and family the skills they have learned and what they have achieved within the project. The exhibition will also provide a platform for an open discussion in a public setting around mental health and addiction.

We are also currently developing commercial products celebrating the final design of The Paisley Recovery Pattern with MAKLab, an experienced design and production team. Very soon products such as table covers, aprons, mugs and t-shirts will be available to purchase. All will proudly bear The Paisley Recovery Pattern and be a testement to the hard work and creativity of the participants involved in the project.

Watch this space or sign up to the SRN eUpdate for further news of the exhibition and the sale of The Paisley Recovery Pattern products!

Follow The Paisley Recovery Pattern on Instagram 

Visit Renfrewshire ADP website

Visit The NetWork Vocational Rehabilitation Service website


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