Since March a tight community has been built around the loft
By Ieva Lucs
Posted: Jul 09, 2017
To keep the loft running Marshall raises money by touring with her one-woman show Hold Mommy's Cigarette, a play that advocates for suicide awareness. Marshall's father died by suicide when she was seven and she attempted suicide herself 17 years ago. It's her goal to get people talking openly about suicide and depression.
"It's not like I'm trying to go out and save someone's life, but to just be a vessel to guide them in a direction. It just gives me purpose and value," said the artist.
Marshall said she has hundreds of letters from people who have been positively affected by both the loft and her work.
Jason Marshall transformed the top of the space (top) into the Mental Wellness Loft into a home for him and his wife Shelley (bottom). (Shelley Marshall/submitted)The Mental Wellness Loft, a free space in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood open to the public as a creative sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life, is being forced to close its doors.
The centre is also Shelley Marshall's home.
The artist, writer and mental wellness advocate, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and stays inside for days a time due to anxiety, started afternoon drop-in sessions there earlier this year because it was her dream to create a space to help people just like her.
Participants can do yoga or paint, sing and dance, or just watch episodes of Nurse Jackie.
But now, the lease has expired and the landlord has asked everyone to leave.
Marshall's husband Jason renovated the stark white space on Carlaw Avenue himself. He started by building a stage (a must-have for his performer wife) with a lighting grid and sound system. Next was a bathroom and kitchen so the two of them could live there comfortably. Overall they spent $25,000 remodeling the space.
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