I’m Caroline a freelance felt maker, knitter and textile artist inspired by colour, texture and pattern. However it hasn’t always been this way. My background is law, namely matrimonial and criminal law, but my first love has always been the arts, whether it be painting, trying to get to grips with the potter’s wheel or constructing 3D designs. I just never considered I could make a career of doing something I enjoyed!
Fast forward to starting a family, discovering the law doesn’t fit around baby and toddler routines and realising that I wanted to be a full-time mum, which happily I was fortunate to be able to do and that’s when my creative instinct really kicked in. With the help of others I ran a successful not-for-profit arts organisation, primarily hosting workshops for children in local villages during the holidays and latterly attracting lottery funding for children’s film projects in schools. From the successes of community arts I seriously considered setting up my own creative business. I took part in an Open Studios event, sold my art – which totally amazed me and decided to take the leap into the creative un-known.
It hasn’t been easy, I’ve supplemented by freelance work by training and teaching in adult education which has been a springboard to working in mental health. I’ve dabbled in outdoor theatre and project management however, my passion is working with other people and I have been hosting workshops for all ages and abilities for over 12 years; helping others find their own creative voice and supporting people along their journey of creative discovery. I specialise in activities for people with mental health illnesses and have worked with charities such as MIND, Rethink and Headway. I use my accumulated knowledge and expertise to run groups for people who feel marginalised helping them to regain confidence in their everyday lives.
One of my successes was to work with Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and mental health charity Arts and Minds, delivering and creating opportunities for people with mental health illnesses across Peterborough and Fenland. I am proud to have created a public art gallery within the Cavell Centre – a mental health hospital in Peterborough. Hosting three exhibitions a year and inviting patients, service users, staff, carers and local artists to showcase their work – all of which was available for sale made this a highly successful venture. One of our aims was to break down the stigma and often negative public perception of mental health. For three years the Centre was a venue for the annual Peterborough Open Studios event, attracting good numbers through the doors and with it sales for many of the artists. I think we did a great deal to help break down barriers and pre-concieved notions circulating around mental health. Everything was going well and then…
Sadly, as is so often the case, the funding dried up, due in part to the economic downturn in the UK. I found myself, looking around for other semi-regular creative opportunities – there weren’t many. What happened to the Gallery? It still exists, but not in it’s original format, the gallery areas, are now host to Paintings in Hospitals, which is better than just having a vast expanse of white walls. However, I do feel saddened that the opportunities this gallery provided for people to exhibit their work, embark on art courses, gain confidence and self belief disappeared all too quickly and that a long term solution could have been found – it all seemed like a knee jerk reaction with no consideration to all the great things we had achieved in three years. However, it is what it is and I am grateful there still paintings in the space.
Over the years I have re-invented myself creatively, on more than one occasion to find a niche in these ever changing times. Recently I’ve created another business, quite separate from the arts – making my own natural skincare preparations. How did a felt maker become interested in science? Believe it or not, it started with a gift, and if your intrigued you can find out more here. It has been a slow process, but this has been a good thing, slowed me down, made me think. I still have much to learn and my journey into skincare still has a long way to go. I’m selling my products locally at events and shortly will have an online presence and have plenty of ideas and plans for the future.
Plans are underway for more workshops both at my studio and other venues. Funding or lack of it is still very much a worry for one of my groups, soI wait with bated breath for the outcome.
I hope this has given you a brief insight into my creative journey and that you will stay along for the ride.
Thanks for stopping by.