Meet Alexandra: “Creativity gives you that mindfulness space”

creative voices Leeds artwork

creative:voices is Create’s project giving adult carers the opportunity to explore their creativity in high-quality creative arts workshops. In October 2021, members of Carers Leeds took part in collage workshops with our professional artist Renata Minoldo. We spoke to Alexandra about her experience on the project. 

“I’ve been caring for about six years now. My father has a lung condition, which is terminal. A couple of other family members who are closer to home have had illnesses that have left them feeling very anxious and struggling with their mental health most days. With my father it’s a degenerative disease so we know the stages it will go through, but the mental health side is much more unpredictable and therefore more difficult from a carer’s perspective.  

“You can just be you, not the carer.”

Alexandra

“I didn’t really appreciate how many different technical forms of collage there are. It’s not just cutting a sheet out of a piece of paper. You can look at it from more of a surrealist perspective or an impressionist perspective. Or you could go out and collect materials from your garden and use leaves and flowers and bits of twigs and come up with more of a botanical piece of work. It’s really expanded my horizons.

creative voices Leeds artwork
A collage made by one of the participants in Leeds

“I’ve enjoyed mixing with the group and people of all different ages, viewpoints and backgrounds and it’s obviously influenced the pieces of work that we’ve done. But we’ve also formed mini friendships. We’ve all been supportive of each other and if one of us has said ‘I don’t think this piece of work is very good’ somebody else has always chipped in and said ‘well actually I see it like this’ and ‘I really like this aspect’ and it’s given you confidence that it doesn’t really matter whether you think it’s good or not, it’s just doing it and enjoying it. I feel quite happy and surprised at myself because I was quite proud of some of artwork.

Reconnecting with yourself

“Having the chance to be creative helps you use your brain in a different way. We spend a lot of time doing things that we have to do and you can get very stressed if that’s your whole life. Creativity just gives you that mindfulness space, that time to recharge your batteries, or to have a go at something you didn’t think you could do and get that sense of achievement from doing it. So I think it’s really important to do something like this.

“It also gives you a bit of a chance to be you, because a lot of the time carers lose a big part of their identity when they become the person who is looking after someone else. They sacrifice a lot of their own life, their own wishes and ambitions and things they’d like to be doing with their time because they have these other responsibilities. So this gives a little bit of that back. You can do something for you. You can do it on your own terms. You can just be you, you’re not having to be the carer, you’re being yourself, which is nice because you sometimes lose your identity a bit when you’re supporting someone else.”

creative:voices Leeds was supported by Arts Council England, awarding funding from The National Lottery.