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PREVIEW FESTIVAL SCOTTISH MENTAL HEALTH ARTS AND FILM FESTIVAL The link between creative minds and mental illness has been illustrated by host of much-loved musicians, writers and artists, from Sylvia Plath to Jeff Tweedy, Van Gogh, Hemingway and Tolstoy. Since its inception in 2007, SMHAFF has aimed to highlight the links between mental health and creativity. Lauren Mayberry catches up with its organisers

Unless you’ve been gently nestled under some rock for the past several years, you will probably be aware of the annual autumnal arts treat that is the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF). This year’s brochure boasts almost 300 events across Scotland. ‘This year, the themes are related areas of mental health and memory,

and mental health and dreams. We’re trying to get people to explore what mental health means to each of them,’ festival director Lee Knifton explains.

‘I think if you want to achieve change socially, the arts are unique in

the way they can bring people together. Everyone can be connected by the arts, sharing stories and experiences that we would otherwise maybe not be exposed to.’ In previous years, Music Like A Vitamin has been a big draw, featuring Emma Pollock and Rod Jones, plus members of Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and a host of other Scottish indie faces. This year, Jones and James Yorkston are involved again under the Fruit Tree Foundation name alongside Edinburgh son Withered Hand. ‘It’s a really interesting project where they have been mentoring new musicians, smaller scale than Music Like A Vitamin but still incredibly valuable,’ Knifton says.

Music is not the only thing on the menu, with literature events

prominent in this year’s schedule. Weegie lit faves DiScomBoBuLaTe are doing a special evening of words and bits of comedy at Motherwell Library. A special one-day literature event at the Sanctuary in Edinburgh, backed by Edinburgh University, will look at dreams, memory and sleep, while the National Museum of Scotland will be running storytelling workshops. Edinburgh’s Filmhouse is running a series of movies looking at

different aspects of mental health from dementia to post-traumatic stress, featuring Away From Her, The Hurt Locker, Looking For Eric and a special look at Norman Wisdom. Glasgow offers up a couple of mini- festivals in the form of Headspace at Platform in Easterhouse and the Moving Minds day of events at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The CCA offers a host of diverse events, from a play about bipolar disorder to a graphic-novel workshop looking at dreams of Scotland’s future and traveller communities talking about mental health in a way that will blow apart any ideas you got from watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (not that you would ever watch that, you classy reader, you). For full event details, check out Various venues across Scotland, Sat 1–Fri 21 Oct.

artists performing at Arches Live and focusing on the effects of the current economic climate on artistic output in the UK. Part of Arches Live. The Humankind Index Thu 6 Oct, 2.15pm. £8 (under 18s, students and RSGS members free). Renfield St Stephen’s Church, 260 Bath Street, Judith Robertson, head of Oxfam Scotland, discusses the Oxfam HumanKind Index, which values things people hold dear, such as relationships, health, money and the local environment. FREE Garden Talks: Harvesting and the Storage of Crops Sun 9 Oct, 1–3pm. Pollok Country Park, Pollokshaws Road. Gardener Sean Belshaw explains the best ways to harvest and store produce.

Closes 15 January 0131 556 5100