Last week I got to meet with Celia Dottore, the program curator at the Flinders University Art Museum. Spoilers: she’s lovely and generous and kind.
Chatting with her reminded me of something that I know intuitively but need to be reminded of continually – that is – the important intersection between mental health and aesthetics.
I’ve spoken previously on this blog about ‘psychological needs’. Psychological needs are a critical part of my mental fitness framework, as these needs can be both drivers of, and guides to our self-improvement efforts. I’ve outlined 10 needs that I think represent the core experiences we all seek as human beings.
Absent in those 10 though is ‘aesthetic’ needs – the appreciation of beauty, balance, form etc. This is something I need to rectify.
Think about the many ways that aesthetics intersect with your daily life:
- appreciating and spending time in beautiful gardens and natural settings
- the preference to be in buildings that are unique and attractive
- the desire to travel to see new and beautiful locations
- your eye being drawn to advertisements or promotions or art that are visually appealing
- the characteristics that make someone beautiful to you
- your own hobbies of drawing, painting, dance, music
- your selection of clothes based on how they look, the feelings they give
- the way a room can make you feel, the moment you walk into it
- the appreciation of the visual elements of a film or TV show, as much, if not more than the narrative
I won’t pretend to have expertise in this particular area of mental health, but the meeting with Celia inspired me to pursue it further. She and I committed to find ways to collaborate further, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are some ways that the Art Museum can enhance your health and wellbeing.