Scrambles Photography Group, which was founded in 2018, is a Nottingham based photography support network for people experiencing mental health conditions.
It evolved from photography courses delivered by the Nottingham Photographers Hub for people experiencing mental health conditions. Nottingham based photographer, artist and researcher Jagdish Patel, who was involved with the Hub, organised a project for former students culminating in an exhibition, on the theme of mental health, which was part of the 2018 Off-Centre Photography Festival. For many of the members it was their first ever opportunity to exhibit artwork publicly.
As a result of the project, those involved decided to form a group and called it Scrambles which was based on the initials of the founding members and also because, as one of our group said at the time, having a mental illness can “make it feel as though your brain is scrambled”.
The members of the group work together, using photography creatively and mindfully to aid recovery, and express themselves through their art. The photography helps with mental wellbeing by reducing isolation, creating a purpose, opportunity for personal achievement. It also allows individuals an opportunity to tell their story.
Photo by Stephanie Shaw
The group meets for photography shoots and participates in exhibitions and projects including an ongoing National Heritage funded project in collaboration with the New Art Exchange which documents the history of Derwent Valley Mills.
“The monthly meet-ups enable people to share work, ideas, and pool resources to further develop their creative practice by organising trips, learning projects or other events. Scrambles is a peer support platform for people from all backgrounds, experiences and stages in their practice. However, it's a shared safe space, and run voluntarily by the members. This means it works best when people come both to share but also to help. Hence, a commitment to help, work collaboratively and collectively to lift one another up is important.” (The Off-Centre Festival website.)
It isn’t just about photography though. Weekly meet-ups at a local café for a coffee (without cameras) have helped combat feelings of isolation and loneliness for some of the members.
Photo by David King
Membership of Scrambles is open to anyone experiencing a mental health condition, but it isn't necessary to prove or explain your condition. Members don't need to be an expert photographer or to have an expensive camera. In fact mobile phones are absolutely fine. The main thing is that the group is accessible to everyone. We have qualified photographers who are happy to show you how your camera works and help you to improve your photography skills. The group is very friendly and supportive and several members of the group are qualified mental health peer support workers and mental health first aiders.
Anyone interested in joining the group can email co-ordinator Alyn Mulholland at firstname.lastname@example.org or checkout the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/scramblesphotos