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Uplifting art: some suggestions for unwinding over exam season

With the impeding chaos of exam season approaching, it can be helpful to remember how to wind down and relax. Izzy Fraser gives a list of feel-good creative suggestions for you to enjoy during this stressful period.

By Izzy Fraser, Second Year, English Literature

When it comes to the trials and tribulations of everyday life, art can provide be a great comfort and provide a real form of solace. During exam week, however, it can be difficult to know where to look for uplifting art when you are already feeling drained. So, I have compiled a list of some of the most uplifting books, plays, exhibitions and artists that I hope bring you some joy amidst exam season.

Feel-good Fiction: The People on Platform 5 - Clare Pooley
One of my favourite forms of escapism is curling up with a nice cup of tea and
delving into an easy-to-read fiction book with characters I can root for. If you can relate to this, ‘The People on Platform 5’ is for you. Described as ‘A feel-good and uplifting read with unforgettable characters’, what’s not to love? The book involves as unlikely group of strangers forming friendships on their daily commute. The comic read is as relatable and cheesy as it is uplifting. Just one warning: you might not want to put it down to do the revision you promised yourself you would.

‘Most endings turned out to be beginnings in disguise.’ - Clare Pooley
Image courtesy of Izzy Fraser

Poetry collection: Let the Light Pour In - Lemn Sissay
If poetry is your thing, Sissay’s collection of ‘morning poems’ could be for you. Released only a couple of months ago, the book is a collection of poems written over the past decade. Writing one short poem as dawn breaks each morning, the author has compiled the best of them into this lovely book. The Sunday Times bestseller has been described as "life affirming, witty, and full of wonder". One thing to note is that the author doesn’t ignore the struggles that come with life; the poems involve his own battle with the dark, but are characterised by resilience and defiant joy.

'How do you do it?' said night
'How do you wake up and shine?'
'I keep it simple,' said light
'One day at a time'

Interactive exhibition: Wake the Tiger Amazement Park
If reading isn’t for you then Wake the Tiger, an interactive amazement park, could be more up your street. This experience is very unique; you will enter a Dream Factory where elemental guilds work together to save the world from disaster. While the other-wordly experience of beautiful lights and colour will certainly allow you to escape the world outside, the exhibition does have a themed focus on environmentalism, which is something to bear in mind. Ensure you book to avoid disappointment; the park is open from 11am-6pm Wednesday to Friday, 10am-7pm Saturday and 10am-6pm on Sunday.

"Futuristic scenery, interactive maze, high-tech décor, intricate lighting… it’s intriguing, fun and thought-provoking" – Trip Advisor

Artist: Morgan Harper Nichols
Morgan Harper Nichols is a multimedia artist who believes that "art is a form of
communication". Her art, which takes the form of visual multimedia and poetry, is characterised by an infectious and warm positivity and gentleness that will certainly leave you feeling uplifted, not least due to the beautiful colour palette of her work. You can check out her work on her website or on her Instagram, @morganharpernichols. She has also created a daily encouragement app, The Storyteller Co. (that also has its own Instagram), that provides daily encouragement and affirmations and a podcast, all of which will uplift you undoubtedly.

"May you forever stay in pursuit of the small things that warm your heart" – Morgan Harper Nichols

Show: 'Arabian Nights' at the Bristol Old Vic
This musical is a modern adaptation of the timeless story of a daring heroine on her mission to liberate all the young women in the kingdom from the tyrannical king. Following the relationship of the heroine and her sister, they overcome old grudges and use their collective voice to fight for what is right. The feel-good show will run at the Old Vic from Thursday 23rd November to Saturday 6th of January, so there’s plenty of time to experience the joy of theatre over the festive period. Either see this spellbinding show to take a break from exam season, or to reward yourself with an uplifting treat once exams are finished.

"…they light up the kingdom with magic, excitement and unity". – Bristol Old Vic Website

Featured image: Izzy Fraser

How do you like to relax and unwind during exam season?