Former Wigan teacher's mission to help people through art

Sarah Manouchehri
Sarah Manouchehri

A former Wigan teacher has taken a leap of faith into new territory to help people heal and express themselves through therapeutic art.

Sarah Manouchehri, 31, from Standish, left her job as a secondary school art teacher earlier this year to set up True Colours Expressive Art.

After taking part in a workshop in Kendal and realising the benefits first hand Sarah said: “I went through the therapeutic process over four weekends and began to find ways of using art playfully to support well-being and self-expression empowering.

“I have suffered with anxiety for many years. I have found medication, CBT, counselling, meditation and exercise all useful to some degree but through artistic expression I was able to access and release unconscious thoughts and feelings and make sense of my internal world in a way that talking alone could not.”

Sarah, who lives with her husband Sam in Poolstock, hopes her workshops can help people who are struggling in a similar way and has already had some incredibly positive feedback, despite her new venture being in its infancy.

One of her ‘students’ said: “Sarah’s course took me on a beautiful voyage of self discovery. I came to it with a negative outlook and left with affirmations of ‘I am’ and ‘I can’. I’m no artist but I discovered so much more about myself.”

On the difficult decision to leave her job Sarah said: “I have been excited, terrified, anxious, nervous, depressed, elated. It’s been a roller-coaster. I have sacrificed money, security and material things to go on an adventure.

“My family and friends have been incredibly supportive, everybody is cheering me on. It’s been a humbling experience the support I have received.”

With themes including Healing Collage, Expressive Therapeutic Drawing and Clay and Creative Writing, the workshops encompass a wide variety of artistic processes designed to promote personal growth and self awareness.

Sarah said: “Most people say ‘I’m rubbish at art’ or ‘I can’t even draw a stick-man’ but the truth is everybody is creative - it’s about letting go of your inner critic and giving yourself permission to express yourself honestly, it’s about allowing people to naturally release emotions through art, which is incredibly therapeutic.

“Art is for everyone - it is a powerful process, it isn’t about just drawing things. Expressive Art uses a variety of techniques to help people express their feelings and share their stories in a comfortable group setting.

“We use empowering affirmations to give ourselves permission to be creative, in a child-like way, without fear or judgement.”

Further down the line Sarah hopes to expand her workshops into schools, colleges and businesses and on a one-to-one basis.

She said: “I have just put together a proposal for a college Enrichment Day focused on building self-esteem and confidence through the painting process and would like to offer workshop packages for schools - for staff CPD as well as pupils - I’m really just keeping an open mind at the minute.

“Mental Health finally has a resonating voice in society and anxiety in particular seems to be a modern-day epidemic. I want to help bring people together to share their own stories to let them know they are not alone.”

Further information about Sarah’s workshops can be found on her facebook and instagram page: True Colours Expressive Art.