Tag: visual art

Meet Elise, an environment:matters Participant

environment matters pioneer house

Meet Elise: “I’ve learnt a lot about recyclable materials”

environment:matters is our project providing SEND children with access to high-quality, interactive, collaborative creative arts workshops exploring the theme of “the environment”.

During November and December 2022, SEND participants in Manchester took part in our eight-day sculpture project with Create professional visual artist, Renata Minoldo. During the project, they created sculptures made from recyclable materials and decorated them with natural dyes sourced from flowers.

We spoke to Elise (15) about her experience on the project.

“My name is Elise and I’m 15 years old. We have been doing this [Create] art project for the past two weeks. We have created sculptures out of plastic water bottles, and we’ve put bird seed into it which has turned it into a bird feeder. We also crushed up flowers using hammers and other tools so we could use it as paint. It went onto the fabric which made [the fabric] look more fun.

“I thought the theme of the environment was really nice and I’m glad we did it because the environment is very important. I’ve learnt a lot about recyclable materials, and I’ve learnt there’s different types of sculpture and you can use different materials to make them. I’ve enjoyed making the sculptures. In art class we usually just do drawing so this was very different and very cool. It made me feel very happy and very good that I got to take part in this [project], it’s very fun.

“In art class we usually just do drawing so this was very different and very cool.”

Elise, environment:matters participant

“Working with Renata has been really nice. She’s a very nice person and I enjoyed working with her. Before the project, we did some research and some drawing, sketches and designs based on work from Renata and other artists.

“Working with and making artwork with the group was very fun. We all got along and had fun while doing it. I’m looking forward to our exhibition.”

This project was supported by Society of the Holy Child Jesus CIO.

Meet Renee, an adult carer from Islington

creative voices Islington

Meet Renee, an adult carer from Islington

creative voices Islington

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 2022, carers from Islington took part in six, weekly visual art workshops with our professional ceramic artist Liz Jackson.

Adult carer Renee (57) told us about her experiences.

“I have been caring for my mother for 15 years. Taking on caring responsibilities was hard because I wasn’t expecting it. I’d gone through a divorce and I’d just come home. Something happened to mum and she asked me to stay. I was self-employed but that job disappeared because I couldn’t travel up and down the country anymore.

“Mum’s doing really well, and I got her through COVID. I got COVID and she didn’t. I was so sick I thought I was going to die, so afterwards I thought: ‘I need to change the way I live.’ Now I live a short distance away [from mum] and my brothers do more to help, but I’m still the primary carer. It’s not easy.

Telling stories through art

“I have discovered that I love drawing. I now carry a little notebook with me.”

renee, adult carer

“This Create project was an opportunity to learn some new crafts. We did a range: drawing, painting, weaving and clay work. I had a lovely time. I have discovered that I love drawing, and I now carry a little notebook with me.

“I made a little feathery blue and white dreamcatcher which is now sitting in my bedroom. It’s so pretty, but it’s also a meaningful ornament. I think I need my artistry to have some sort of meaning or purpose and a dreamcatcher is a story. How did you make it? Who were you with? The story lives, in a way. I don’t have children. I think the need to create something that can outlast you is something fundamental to human nature. I like creating things from scratch.   

learning to play again

“I loved the project. It’s nice meeting other carers, chatting to people and just having a little bit of time for yourself. I also loved having a chance to explore and play and do things I haven’t done since I was a kid. I was told by a teacher I couldn’t draw, so I always thought I couldn’t. I’ve certainly said to that teacher, “you were wrong! You shouldn’t be telling children that they can’t do stuff!” Why should I be good at something the first time I try it?

“Working with everyone was really good. It was a nice harmonious group. I enjoy having people to play with. It’s that simple. Playing is fun and you often don’t do it. Life can be so serious and the challenges of doing what I do and holding a job, it’s just so hard. Having somewhere where you can come and play with other people who want to play and who are having similar challenges to you is really nice.

“Following these workshops, I now meet with two people I met at [the Create project] once a month. We eat and have a cup of tea and we bring our crafts out. It doesn’t matter what it is, we’ll just bring what we like, or nothing. It’s like a knit and natter class but it’s for arts and crafters.

“We’re all in isolated little pockets”

“Working with Liz was great too. She’s absolutely lovely. The thing that I really liked about her is that she let me be the creator I wanted to be. When we did the weaving, people were using the string and the wool, and I wanted to use ribbon. She didn’t bat an eyelid. When people were making small clay pots and I made a big one, she didn’t bat an eyelid. She believes in the right of the artist to create their own work, and that’s very valuable.

“Sometimes you’re pushed in very rigid ways and you can learn a craft but you don’t own what you’ve learnt. By letting me play and create the way I wanted to, I didn’t just own the end result, I owned the process.

“Projects like this help carers with our mental health. They give us somewhere to go. There’s a lot of fear. You don’t really know what we’re suffering because we’re all in houses by ourselves. We’re all in isolated little pockets, so unless we come together, we don’t know what’s happening for other people.

This project is funded by The Smiles Fund, awarding funds from Walkers and Comic Relief.

Meet Yvette, from our project with anthropologie

creative:me anthropologie islington

Meet Yvette, from our project supported by anthropologie

Photo by Alex Mooney

creative:me is Create’s programme in partnership with Anthropologie. In November and December 2022, we ran projects inspired by Anthropologie’s Christmas theme of “sparkling joy”.

As part of creative:me, adult carers from Islington took part in six, weekly visual art workshops with our professional artist Rachel McGivern. The project aimed to ignite adult carers’ imaginations, offer them an escape from everyday life and a break from their responsibilities, and help them connect with others.

Adult carer Yvette told us about her experiences.

“I moved back to London for my elderly mum about eight years ago. She is 82 and although she hasn’t been diagnosed with dementia, she’s very forgetful and she just couldn’t look after herself. Particularly since the pandemic she’s taken quite a downturn in her capabilities and her confidence levels.

“She relies on me for quite a lot. She’s stopped driving, so I do all the driving. I do the cooking and the cleaning and I look after her. Before, I used to be able to go away for a night and she’d be able to heat herself up some soup, but I think that’s beyond her now. She becomes more dependent on me as we go along.

“My mum’s quite needy and if I wasn’t strict with my boundaries, she would take all of my time and energy. Making time for myself has been the biggest challenge: setting my boundaries and maintaining them. It’s one thing to set them, but to maintain them constantly is the daily challenge.

“It’s nice to have time that’s just mine”

Photo by Alex Mooney

“Taking on caring responsibilities has changed my lifestyle. I work from home, which I actually really enjoy. However, I’m an introvert. I like one-on-one [interaction] with my friends and I used to go out a lot more to meet with friends and do more social things. I only do that once every couple of weeks at the most for an afternoon or an evening now. I’m much more housebound. It’s changed my life massively.

“It’s really nice to have a bit of the week that’s just mine. [The project] is a really nice environment, it’s a little outing every week I look forward to. “We’ve been doing lino printing, which has been brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve been printing onto fabric and painting and making lavender eye bags out of some of that fabric. I’ve learnt that it’s a step by step thing and it’s really effective. I’ve done it before but it was so many moons ago.

“When you’re at school, you’re in the habit of doing weird and interesting things in your art class but when you’re older you forget to do new things. It’s good for the brain health. I like meeting people. I really like the facilitators, I think they’re all really lovely. They’re gentle and focused, and they’re really good at confidence building. I think the group format works really well too.

I’ve worked with Create before and I’ve got a little portfolio of stuff I’ve done. It gives me a sense of wellbeing and inspires me.”

Yvette, adult carer

“I get creatively stimulated”

“I am really pleased with the work I did on lino, I get a really strong sense of satisfaction. I’ve worked with Create before and I’ve got a little portfolio of stuff I’ve done and it’s really nice to look back over it. It gives me a sense of wellbeing and it inspires me. I get creatively stimulated, I find that I go home and I’m ticking over in a way that I wasn’t ticking over before, so it will just fire up ideas. I’ll go home with my weird print and then I’ll want to make it into Christmas cards or I’ll want to make gift tags out of it or something. This year was the first year I’ve made Christmas cards in about six years and I know that it’s partly to do with feeling inspired by Create.

“Projects like this help because they allow me to have that time that’s just about me. I come back refreshed and ready to go again. It’s a bit of a recharge, a reset. Just that little moment out of each week gives me time where I’m not thinking about mum’s food or the next meal or whether she’s got clean pyjamas. I’m not thinking about any of her needs. I’m just thinking about running stitch.”

creative:me Islington was supported by Anthropologie. You can learn more about our partnership here.