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> > > Dolly Sen: Portugal Prints working with the Royal Academy of Arts

15 June 2013

Greenhouse of Hearts

still from a short film, showing an image of several leaf-like, transparent hearts hanging from branches

As part of DAO’s Diverse Perspectives programme, funded by Arts Council England, film-maker Dolly Sen was commissioned to produce a short documentary exploring the relationship Portugal Prints has with the Royal Academy of Arts access programme. 'Greenhouse of Hearts' highlights the inspired, dynamic work that this small project is delivering.

Portugal Prints is an innovative mental health project based in central London operating as a commercial print business as well as a charity.

Portugal Prints is part of Westminster Mind and supports people recovering from mental illness by offering members the chance to use their creativity in a commercial art and design studio as a stepping-stone back into work, training and education.

Dolly Sen's film 'Greenhouse of Hearts' was commissioned to highlight the amazing, inspired, dynamic work that this small project is producing, looking at the model of practice that has been developed between Royal Academy of Arts and Portugal Prints.

Dolly says: “We are in a time of cuts in arts, and I wanted to show what society and the arts gain from a project like Portugal Prints, and what it would lose if it were to disappear. The documentary follow the stories of the staff and participants, and the history of the project itself in a celebratory film about the heart of Portugal Prints, and how the RA access programme nurtures that heart.”


Molly Bretton

24 July 2013

The Royal Academy was thrilled to have been part of Dolly’s journey to create this film. It’s a wonderfully insightful reflection on a relationship very important to us and a programme we’re very proud of. Our relationship with Portugal Prints is one example of a growing breadth of programmes we deliver at the RA to ensure that those who face barriers in accessing art are supported to engage with our exhibitions in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them.

We’re confident that Dolly’s film will bring the work we do to a wider audience and help to inform opinion, create debate and inspire new thought around art, disability, mental health and art - and we couldn’t be happier about that!’


24 July 2013

The experience of being filmed by Dolly Sen was very good, especially as she was so unobtrusive with the camera, in fact she was so discreet with it that it was possible to forget the filming and it just felt like chatting to Dolly.

The location of the filming was very good as we were in the quiet back-room of the Portugal Prints Studio, in Soho, as the larger studio room can get quite crowded with other Portugal Prints users, and there's always background noise there.

I would definitely like to be involved in another film project because I think it helps to build confidence and I am very open to new experiences – that's what I like best really, the opportunity to experience something new.

The PP partnership with the RA has given me many opportunities for new experiences and the freedom to enjoy lots of different activities, as one of the volunteers there I work in a customer service role, serving refreshments, showing people around galleries and also delivering workshops.


24 July 2013

I’m generally a nervous person but my confidence levels have risen since I’ve been at Portugal Prints and when Dolly came into the studio and asked who would like to be involved - I thought ‘why not have a go’. Dolly made me feel welcome and put me in a very nice place. I felt at my ease with her. When Dolly asked her questions about what did I think of as the heart of Portugal Prints my heart was twitching with emotion – that was when we were filming in the corridor gallery.

I’ve never been in front of a camera before and it was a big step for me to take.

When I saw the final film I felt very proud feeling that by taking part I have helped to spread the word about Portugal Prints and to tell people about our partnership with the RA. Part of the fun has also been showing the film to my friends and family and hearing them say ‘well done Alex’. Its given me a real sense of achievement and has made me feel better about myself. It was a very rewarding experience.

I would like to thank Dolly and Portugal Prints for the opportunity as the project has made me feel stronger and more positive about myself.


24 July 2013

When I heard that Kate had suggested that Dolly might consider making a film about PPs partnership with the RA I was very intrigued but slightly wary too I must admit. I hadn’t seen Dolly’s work before and wasn’t at all sure how the project would take shape but from the first meeting it was clear that it would be an entirely good experience. The way she introduced the group to the brief and encouraged them to put forward their ideas was inspiring – there was a real sense that she wanted it to be our film too not something imposed on the us from outside.

Whenever she came to film at PP Dolly made everyone feel very comfortable, effortlessly working round whatever activities were going on in the studio. Last month when Dolly sent me the link to the finished film I watched it straight away and it made me cry – she had captured the essence of the project and our partnership with the RA so perfectly, distilling it into a very poignant and moving (but also at times wonderfully funny) story – which is just what it is of course.


18 June 2013

This really does capture the heart of PP, a lovely piece.


18 June 2013

Excellent film Dolly.


18 June 2013

Lovely film. Very affected by Corin's comments on language and all the interviewees' answers to the question 'What is madness?' Beautiful work (the film and the art).


14 June 2013

Dolly - your film moved me to tears. It makes me weep bucket loads that there aren't more resources like Portugal Prints out there - and that it is so undervalued by the 'professionals' and the mental health system as a whole.

I believe they do far more good than the psychiatric services.

Take care and look after yourself.

We need your powerful output as an artist!

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