Compared with the general population, professional artists and students attending Art and Design Schools are heavily impacted by anxiety and depression (Varg, Bjekerset & Siverston, 2021). Recent scholarship has highlighted the therapeutic benefits of arts practices and spectatorship in treating anxiety and depression by virtue of cultivating a present-stateawareness in participants (Bungay, Wilson & Munn-Giddings, 2023). However, the literature does not address the determining factors that a creative work ought to have in order to effectively promote present-state awareness in viewers and/or participants.


his paper presents two case studies that propose systematic methods for producing creative works where the outcomes aim to facilitate present-state-awareness in viewers / participants. Dr Sabine Pagan examines how tactile and visual characteristics of objects and environments heighten individuals’ sensorial and spatial awareness. Her contemporary jewellery prompts embodied encounters, impacting the way we view the world and shape our memories. Dr Tony Curran iterates paintings and custom software in what he refers to as Attention Machines, which are artworks aimed to cultivate attentional capacity in the viewer through mindful looking.

These case studies evaluate criteria for making works of art and design that decrease mental ill-health such as anxiety and depression, which involve fixations on past and future-stateawareness. The authors outline the importance of future opportunities for empirical research to test the efficacy of artistic quality to promote broader societal wellbeing, while highlighting the value of this knowledge in the context of Art and Design Schools.


Bungay, H., C. Wilson, A. Dadswell, and C. Munn-Giddings. 2023. “Arts and Creativity: Maintaining Mental Wellbeing during COVID-19 Lockdowns in UK Universities.” Journal of Further and Higher Education 47 (4): 551–62. doi:10.1080/0309877X.2023.2175650.

Jonas Vaag, Ottar Bjerkeset, and Børge Sivertsen. 2021. “Anxiety and Depression Symptom Level and Psychotherapy Use Among Music and Art Students Compared to the General Student Population.” Frontiers in Psychology 12 (June). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.607927.

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Stream C: Panel One