Doncaster artist shares his experience of art helping him through mental health issues

After suffering from depression a Doncaster man turned to art for relief - his passion project then became a career and he helps others struggling with mental health.

By Laura Andrew
Sunday, 30th May 2021, 9:20 am

Andy Hollinghurst spent the majority of his career in primary teaching.

Andy, 59, from Bessacarr said: “I was a teacher for 22 years.

“Then a head teacher for the following six years.

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Local artist Andy Hollinghurst.

“But I suffered from a breakdown which led to being ill for about seven years.”

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During this period of bad mental health Andy found solace in art.

“At first I was just painting in my shed,” he said.

St Leger, by Andy Hollinghurst, depicting the festival through the years.

“It was a way to portray how I was feeling.

“I gradually started to improve and my subjects became a bit more light hearted.

“Landscapes of the seaside and iconic spots around Doncaster

Andy now uses art to help start conversations around mental health with the goal of helping others.

Andy Hollinghurst, pictured working on one of his latest pieces.

He has a stall in the Corn Exchange and has open and frank discussions with people who come to view his artwork.

“Depression can be a very isolating condition,” he said.

“I’m here to chat and have casual conversations.

“I point people in the right direction if they need medical help but I also talk to them about the benefit of art.

Corn Exchange at Night by Andy Hollinghurst.

“For myself it allowed me to express all my anxieties on canvas.

“It took me away from my problems and gave me something to focus on.

“I imagine it’s the same as a long walk for some people - just getting away from the intrusive thoughts and spirals.”

Andy said there is also a great sense of achievement when finishing a painting.

There is an emerging art culture in Doncaster that Andy is excited to be a part of.

Local artist Andy Hollinghurst, pictured.

The new D31 Gallery on Scot Lane is currently displaying his work and Andy has big hopes for the future of the town’s cultural scene.

“It’s simmering at the moment,” he said.

“You can feel it.

“How amazing would it be if we could become a centre for culture.

“Hopefully we can build a movement here in Doncaster.”

See more of Andy’s work here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.