Martine Vandevelde

I am an active socially engaged artist with a track record of creative public engagement, an exhibition portfolio and over four decades experience of working with vulnerable, marginalised groups, especially mental health patients. Although my permanent basis is in Kortrijk (Belgium), I spend long periods in the UK as two of my children live there (in Stoke-on-Trent and London) and in Cyprus, where my husband comes from.  

From August 1974 to September 2018, I worked as a mental health nurse and creative occupational therapist in the Psychiatric Hospital of Menen in Belgium. I held different roles in the hospital and in community mental healthcare services. One of my main achievements was to set up and implement a range of social participation intervention models, especially around creative community engagement. I was involved in different socially engaged art practices, including in community theatre and in using textiles and different art materials to create installations and/or performances during community workshops. I have facilitated such workshops, with the objective to explore perceptions of mental health, raise awareness and reduce stigma in socially deprived communities in Flanders.  

Since I retired in 2018, I have been working full-time as an artist and socially engaged creative practitioner. I have collaborated with different researchers, most recently with my daughter, Professor Lisa Dikomitis. I worked with her on an ethnographic mental health project. I am currently completing a series of work on the 1974 war in Cyprus, based on social research and on the stories from my husband, Greek-Cypriot refugee Andreas Dikomitis. I have been also inspired by my other daughter, Elena Dikomitis, who works in international development and lived and worked in several low- and middle-income countries (Senegal, Palestine and now in Lebanon). Through her stories and experiences in the field, I have become very interested in working on global health issues. 

I am excited to be one of the artists involved in ECLIPSE.