Visitors to Leeds City Museum had the chance to get creative, make an owl and share their wishes for the future as part of the MindWell Give a Hoot! campaign. Owls will be on display at the museum during Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 to 19 May 2024.

Owl-making took place during the February half-term in the main hall at Leeds City Museum along with several other community activities as part of a regular schedule of fun and free events organised by the museum and open to all visitors.

As the day went on, the crafting table became very popular as people of all ages enjoyed creating owls out of multi-coloured paper and using mark-making materials like Indian ink.

Owls made on the day will join MindWell’s collection (or ‘parliament’) of owls due to be displayed at the Museum for Mental Health Awareness Week from 13 to 19 May 2024. Every owl represents someone who gives a hoot, so the more owls the better!

The idea for the Give a Hoot! campaign started last year as part of the 1001 Stories takeover event at Leeds Playhouse and has since gone ‘on tour’ with people across the city making owls at home and as part of organised wellbeing groups. We hope to reach a total of 1000 owls in the spirit of the origami crane myth, where the maker is granted a wish. Except because it’s Leeds, it had to be owls!

Visit our campaign page for more information about the inspiration for the campaign, details of how to get involved and other upcoming public workshops.

As well as getting creative, we asked visitors to reflect on their hopes, dreams and expectations for the city and we had some thoughtful responses from a few of our smaller residents:

Jake, age 9, said he “wanted to have more parks and better playgrounds in Leeds.” And Maisie, age 8, said she “wants a more eco-friendly Leeds.”

Yasmin, Leeds Museum’s Assistant Community Curator, who prepared and delivered the session, said, “doing a mindful activity like this was really enjoyable and made a nice change to the world of Teams and spreadsheets!”. She also explained why the Museum organised free, family-friendly events and shared a little about her favourite exhibition:

“Engaging with art and culture is good for your wellbeing, so long as you feel safe to attend and respected in that environment. We want everyone in Leeds to feel like they can come along to the City Museum and feel safe, welcomed, and interested in what they find inside. That’s why we want to continue working with communities and people from diverse backgrounds to make sure everyone has the chance to see themselves reflected in our exhibitions and free activities.”

“We’re lucky to have so many diverse communities in Leeds and influences we can draw from, which has led to some of my favourite exhibitions like A Hip Hop Journey: 50 Years of Kulture, co-curated with the volunteer-run Hip Hop Historian Society. As someone who’s lived in Leeds all her life, it makes me happy to see something I’m passionate about on display as part of our collective history and enjoyed by people from all walks of life.”

School holidays can be a great time for families to spend time together, but finding fun and free activities to enjoy can also be stressful. This workshop was part of a regular schedule of creative and community events open to all visitors. For more information about upcoming events visit the Leeds City Museum website.

If you would like to help us reach our total of making 1000 owls or run your own owl-making workshop, don’t forget to download our campaign pack or get in touch for more information!

Getting creative can have great benefits for everyone, no matter what age we are. Visit MindWell’s Get creative section to learn about the many wellbeing benefits of being creative and find ideas for other activities and groups in Leeds.