AN ART studio which is used as alternative therapy for children and adults as the only one of its kind in the UK has reached its 25th anniversary.

Jeffrey Walker founded The Cornloft Art Studio in 1994 at Windover Farm, in Stockbridge, as a safe space for young people and adults to work through their problems in a creative way.

The sculptor receives referrals from various organisations including social care, fostering and adoption agencies, GPs, businesses and charities across the south, for a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties including mental health problems, trauma, addiction, loss, bereavement, anxiety and relationships.

Jeffery, who used to be an art and design university lecturer, said: “Creative thinking and doing can be a helpful way of breaking out of old habits and out dated beliefs. Art is a way of transforming life.”

He believes that being creative is therapeutic, boosting self-confidence and self-worth, as well as raising self-esteem and self-value.

“I work with people who have mental health problems or who have been excluded from school, have learning difficulties or social problems. It goes away from formal types of therapy and counselling for those who don’t engage with that. They often have complex issues.”

Through art and creativity, Jeffery believes that people can divert their mind and lift their mood, leading to emotional contentment and physical relaxation.

He added: “The ultimate aim is to help participants to gain confidence, improve relationships and social skills and increase their self-respect so that once more find a place within their community, individually or within a group.

“From the work that’s created it’s a good indicator of what’s going on elsewhere. Whilst they are working, we can talk and I can identify what the problems or difficulties are and steer them into looking at that in a different way. It’s about developing a good relationship and developing their work and having very open and flexible conversations about what we think might be the problem.

“Normally when you go to a therapist the first thing they ask is ‘what’s the problem’ but if you know what the problem is you probably don’t need to go. We keep an open mind about what the so-called problem might be.”

Art work created at the studio is in various forms, including painting and pottery

As well as working with people in the studio Jeffery also does outreach work with schoolchildren to help them adopt strategies and put in provisions to support them in life and at school, and runs sessions for businesses.

The 55-year-old father-of-two said he has no big plans to mark the milestone anniversary on May 1, but said he was proud his studio has been such a success, adding: “It’s the relaxed conversations we have that can get to the crux of more complex problems. It’s really positive and interesting.”