GETTING creative is good for you – it’s official.

A leading Oxford University medical researcher and practising GP has encouraged people to enter a competition being run by the Ashmolean Museum and The Oxford Times, saying it can help improve physical and mental health.

Dr Kamal Mahtani is associate professor, at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and an advocate of ‘social prescribing’.

He is also one of the judges in the Artist in residence competition, which invites people to create art inspired by their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. The contest has seen hundreds of entries submitted, reflecting shared feelings of isolation, anxiety and hope.

Shortlisted works of art will also be displayed on the Ashmolean’s website and the runners-up and winners in each category will be shown at a special exhibition on the museum’s forecourt when the Ashmolean reopens.

Read more: Enter art competition to get your picture in Ashmolean

Dr Mahtani said: “A variety of factors can influence our physical and mental wellbeing. Some of these factors are medical, while others may be related to our social, economic, or environmental circumstances.

“Healthcare providers are increasingly recognising this and developing initiatives to support these broader determinants of our health. For example, the NHS has committed to helping people access ‘social prescribing’, which includes being able to link people to community services that could improve their wellbeing.

Banbury Cake:

“There is growing evidence that engaging with the cultural sectors, through arts, gardens, and museums can provide many of these benefits.

“For some, these spaces offer an opportunity to gain new insight and knowledge. For others, they may be environments for enjoyment, relaxation, and escape from the stresses of everyday life. Initiatives to promote this, such as this competition are therefore very timely and should be embraced.”

Banbury Cake:

Entrants can submit any type of visual artwork, from painting, drawing or printmaking, to computer aided design, textiles, photography, film or sculpture. Entries will be judged in three age categories: under 11, ages 11-17, and 18 and over.

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Work will be judged by a panel consisting of Dr Mahtani; Ashmolean Museum Director Xa Sturgis; Tim Hughes, Features Editor of The Oxford Times; and Dr Janina Ramirez, historian, broadcaster and Course Director at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education.

Enter at ashmolean.org by next Friday