05 Apr 2024

An art project for women: a creative journey of reflection, discovery and sharing

by Lisa Hayes, leading artist and facilitator and Elma Curran, Adult Programmes Producer

This creative project has been developed in partnership with women's organisations including HER Centre in Woolwich, Solace and the Aaina Centre to give women the opportunity to engage with the meditative and often healing properties of making art.

We run these six-week courses twice a year. They were established by Royal Museums Greenwich's Engagement team in 2020 in response to statistics that showed that women in the Royal Borough of Greenwich have a lower life expectancy than in many of the boroughs across London and areas of the UK due to different social determinants of wellbeing.

This course was conducted online and provided a safe and relaxing space for the women to try something different, develop new skills, connect to others and share in the creative experience.


What did the project involve?

Our starting point for this project was to think about the concept of confidence and to open up a space where we could feel safe enough to come together and explore this.

Artist and facilitator Lisa Hayes led a series of online creative workshops where participants could join in and be part of the collective, even if they missed a session. The content of the sessions was inspired by Royal Museums Greenwich's collections.

Each week, we started with some stretches and breathwork before working with new mediums (drawing, using clay, needlework, poetry writing).

Collectively, we were trying something new, while also spending time with ourselves. Through discussion and reflection, we came together to gently explore the concept of confidence – and the importance of taking part in the sessions without self-judgement. 

Often we surprised ourselves with what emerged from carving out a piece of time each week to be mindful, intentional and creative. 

The reflections and conversations became part of the creative process and the support and empathy from this group of incredible women became as much part of the artwork as the art itself. These sessions became a beautiful container. Each individual brought their own unique energy, culminating in a very special collective experience, voyaging together in vulnerability and creativity. 

Participants: Laura, Maria, Zarida, Nikeisha, Jaswinder, Kamlesh, Zubeda and Harbhajan

The importance of confidence

As a group and individually we looked at confidence: what is it, what does it mean and what does it looks like?

Using icebergs as a metaphor, we explored the complexities of our personalities and the difference between what is visible and what remains hidden.

Inspired by the ship figureheads in Royal Museums Greenwich's collection – wooden sculptures associated with safety and protection – we created our own affirmations and examined the qualities that represent confidence.

Creative responses

Explore artwork and poetry created by the participants.


The culmination of reflection, story-sharing and affirmations to celebrate and honour ourselves resulted in a collaborative poem.

The poem was written by Jas, Kamlesh, Laura, Maria, Nikeisha and Zarida and highlights the importance of self-belief.


I am fragile yet strong

I am holding memories dear

This is where you start and start as many times as you need to but don’t stop.

You choose your own path.

Choose carefully.

 I am strong, but breakable, I hold precious things.

I will last for a long time, if you take care of me.


I am a moment you weren’t expecting, easily missed.

Take time, take it easy and remember how beautiful an instant sharing with a stranger can be.

They are no longer a stranger.


I am a reminder of good times, of precious times, of painful times, of people you no longer know.

But still I am here with you, as you get to know yourself, now.


I am beautiful, I am a mother, a wife, I am clever, I am kind.

I share my love equally, I am a teacher, I am inspirational.

I am funny and love fun, I have my insecurities, I love to hug and be hugged.

I am strong yet fragile at times.

I am me.


I am a collection of cards

holding words of inspiration

to empower you for your day

to give you hope and value

making you unstoppable...

as whatever you are looking for..

          is within YOU.


Activities focused on confidence, values and hopes

Responses from participants

The group reflect on their experiences in the sessions

Read more

"The sessions helped me relax"

"I’m struggling with so much right now. So, for 2 hours I felt good. I realised it’s me time, it helped me like a medicine. It was like a meditation. Helped me so much.

"Everyone in the group is kind and supportive. I'm sad that it was our last session but happy that we are gonna have another soon.  I appreciate your supporting words in these hard times. Thanks a lot." 

"I found the sessions very enjoyable"

"After the initial introductions by all the participants, I liked the short mind and body relaxation which helped me to stay focused on the task of the day. 

"The activities helped me to be aware of my mindfulness and to realise how differently each of the participants described their thoughts and their life experiences."  

"I’ve got a lot from this"

"In life we often focus on others and forget about ourselves. This has been beneficial and great reflective time for me. 

"We’ve developed bonds. The breathing and exercises have been excellent and now I do them everyday. It was comforting and good. It didn’t matter if you are good at art. It’s been really helpful. It reminds me to look after myself. I found it very calming and reflecting."

"It was good for our mental health and emotional health and physical health"

"We all really enjoyed it and it was so amazing. We were always so excited because each week we felt our stress ended. Please do another one online. And please let us know because we really want to do more with you. It was so amazing. Thank you so much."

"I enjoyed listening to everyone’s experiences and impressions about the course"

"Everyone had a very positive attitude despite their individual and personal difficulties." 

"I would like to say thanks so much for these sessions"

"It has given me more confidence to speak to people. I learnt for great art you don't have to be a good artist. It has shown me the other side of the art.

"I’ve learnt a lot from these sessions. I’m really thankful you have inspired me and others in the group to do more art."

"Thank you for everything"

"I enjoyed the sessions and participating all activities especially the physical exercise."

"This was great to do something out of my comfort zone"

"I felt a sense of achievement and we learnt something. I felt so relaxed after each session."

"I loved to meet such beautiful personalities"

"Feeling blessed that I had this opportunity." 

"These sessions, they make me happy every time"

"They removed my stress, This is my time, I removed all the stress and had me time. Art and craft remind me of my school time, being a child again and getting joy.

"Thank you so much. It helped my mind and it made me emotional and I made good friendships. It was so useful for my mind, body and emotions. Please do more."