Merran Roy is an art psychotherapist working in the NPO sector in the Eastern Cape. Born in Johannesburg, she gained her BA Fine Arts (Hons) at WITS University in 1990, became an arts activist and co-founded the Ratanda Arts Project (RAP!) in an informal settlement near Heidelberg providing arts activities for children deprived through apartheid of arts education. From 1992 onwards she free-lanced as an artist in London UK, worked and travelled in Europe, and in 1994-5 achieved her PG Dip Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Merran gained 10 years’ UK experience as an art psychotherapist working first with adolescent young women in care, then 5 years in adult psychiatry at Sutton Hospital (with groups and individuals) on acute and chronic secure wards, open wards, and the therapeutic community style day hospital. The hospital had one of the most established, comprehensive art psychotherapy services in the UK, containing of a number of Goldsmiths lecturers/tutors. A multi-disciplinary approach prevailed, hence Merran’s experience included facilitating ward large-groups for medical staff and patients combined, and representing patients’ psychotherapy needs in medical ward rounds and other decision making forums.
In 1998 Merran was employed into the first civil service art therapy post in the UK. For 5 years she headed the Art Psychotherapy Department at Grendon Prison in Buckinghamshire (a unique high security, internationally renowned Therapeutic Community prison with well evidenced, documented success.) She grew the AT service to cover all 6 units in the prison, successfully advocated for more posts, employed and supervised another 2 art therapists, sat on the Executive Committee of the prison, and was an active member of the UK Forensic Arts Therapists Advisory Group. Alongside her work, in 1999 she did one year introductory training at the Institute of Group Analysis, London. In 2002-3 she completed her MA Art Psychotherapy whilst still working at Grendon, documenting her research there. Merran lectured on the PG Dip and MA ArtPsych programmes at Goldsmiths from 2002-4, and facilitated experiential groups and tutorials for their one year Introductory course.
From 2005-7 Merran took a maternity/career break during which time she returned to South Africa to live in rural Eastern Cape. She was chairperson of Sakhuluntu Cultural Group (Joza Ext 9, Grahamstown) from 2008-2012, an informal voluntary association offering arts activities to township children. From 2011-2015 she researched, piloted and founded the Intlantsi Creative Development approach as a sub-programme of the Keiskamma Trust (a large HIV focused NPO based in Hamburg) through their Orphan & Vulnerable Children centres. In 2015, Merran and co-director Mojalefa Koyana stepped out and independently registered the Intlantsi Creative Development Project. Intlantsi trains unemployed young adults as therapeutic arts activity facilitators for children in their own villages. Their mission is to initiate sustainable creative development in marginalised communities BY the community, FOR the community, THROUGH the community, whilst developing formal, accessible arts therapy training in the Eastern Cape rooted in indigenous learning traditions (using oral/ apprenticeship knowledge sharing systems as opposed to academic, written models).
Merran is available for lectures, presentations, talks and workshop facilitation.