creative:voices is Create’s multi-artform programme that enables adult carers to take a creative break from their caring responsibilities, build trusting relationships with their peers and develop communication skills, new interests and confidence.
During September and October 2021, thanks to our partnership with First Sentier Investors, we brought together 16 carers from Edinburgh and Glasgow for six weeks of online photography workshops with our professional photographer Alicia Clarke.
Lachlan (not his real name) told us about his experiences.
“I care for my wife. We’ve been married for 44 years. About seven or eight years ago, completely out of the blue, we thought she’d had a nervous breakdown. It ended up with her being in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital on several occasions, the first time for 10 weeks. It turned out she had developed bipolar disorder.
“I worry about my wife’s condition, she’ll be on medication for the rest of her life. The medication has changed her character a bit. We’re very scared of reducing it even slightly because she may become ill again, and we’re trying to avoid her ending up in hospital. So that poses challenges. It’s not easy but I’ve learnt to live with it. Care for Carers have been very supportive.
When I came up with an idea, even if I didn’t think my own stuff was very good, the end product pleased me. It really was quite exciting.Lachlan
“I’ve always found it difficult to talk to people. I’m a bit of an introvert. This project with Create totally put me at ease. I found it very easy to talk to the other people. I just loved every minute of it. Each week I’d be apprehensive, and then within five minutes I forgot about any inhibitions and just sat down and enjoyed myself.
“I found the photography very challenging and very interesting. I love street photography, landscape photography, that kind of thing. When it came to still-life portraiture it really tested me because half the time I couldn’t think of anything to do. But when I saw other people’s ideas they were very clever, it gave me ideas and I just thoroughly enjoyed it.
“The project has taught me to challenge myself and try things that I’m not comfortable with. When Alicia told us what she wanted us to do, I was frightened actually! It took me completely outside my comfort zone. When I came up with an idea, even if I didn’t think my own stuff was very good, the end product pleased me. It really was quite exciting, especially for someone my age.
“Part of this project, too, was speaking to the ladies from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and it was lovely meeting them. They were really lovely people. On one of the projects we were supposed to do, I was so busy talking to one of the women in my group that we completely forgot what the project was! For that short time I felt we became friends, which was lovely. We’ve all got similar problems, caring for people, etc, and for that short while we either discussed some of our problems or it took our minds off it completely and relaxed us.
“Alicia is a very, very fine photographer. I think it sets a very high standard for the project when you’ve got somebody as good as that. She put you at your ease and she was interested in our thoughts, and if she couldn’t answer your questions she would go away and find out. She took a real interest in the people.
“With the project and the tasks Alicia gave us, it now focuses me on different ideas: I will now go to the Botanics at some point and try to do some flower photography; or do things in the house that I wouldn’t normally do. It has opened up new ideas for me.”