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It’s A Real Community

I think back to when I first started coming to Crisis like, anxiety crippled me, really did cripple me. I would sit in the corner on my own not speaking to anyone, literally just telling everyone to please stay out of my bubble. At the time I’d just come out of treatment, and you know I kind of didn’t know who I was, kind of like an empty shell.

I was just trying to kill time, to fill my days up. I liked coming to the art classes because it was all about really getting some structure in my life. If I was ever at a loose end I could always just pop in, and join an art class. I never did art when I was at school – well, I never really went to school, got kicked out in Year 9.

I only started drawing when I was in treatment, doodling like little tattoo designs and stuff. I just started doing that every day, and it started developing I started coming here, and now I’m hopefully going to University, because of my art- I mean, it’s weird!

I’ve been involved from the beginning of the ‘Our Place’ project really. It started off eight, nine months ago when I was asked if I wanted to be included in the selection process of the artist. I didn’t know what was going to come of it, but I put my name down to say that I’d like to be a part of the project, whatever it was. No one knew what we had, or what it was going to be at the time, because all we had was the ‘Our Place’ name.

We started off bouncing ideas off each other, we were all helping each other out, getting involved, and it was really nice to kind of have friends. Everyone’s got their past, everyone’s got their issues but we’re all here for a similar reason, and I like being one of them people that goes around trying to help other people, you know? This is what it’s all about, and for me it was a big thing about integrating back into society as well, - here is a safe environment to practice and see what works and what doesn't.

Katie with her one-to-one mentoring throughout the project, she helped me to look at myself as an artist and what kind of work I want to portray. My work involved putting dust from the building in little Petri dishes under a microscope and shone different lights through so you can see the beautiful art that comes out of stuff that just gets cleaned away, left behind, skin cells, all that kind of stuff. As soon as we put the first Petri dish under the microscope, that was it, we were like this is what we’re doing.

It’s nice to think that I’ve been able to create something that’s so unique, completely different and organic. Because the work itself it is a complete reflection of me, you know I’ve had quite a dark past emotionally, internally and externally as well and it’s been a bit of a grimy journey, and I’ve been able to build my confidence, work towards an education, and start doing some more positive stuff for myself as well as for other people. So something really nice and beautiful and pure has kind of come out of that, and that is the ethos of the work itself.

At the public opening of ‘Our Place’, quite a few people then stayed afterwards to listen to how the work was made and speak to us, and that feeling was so awe-inspiring and motivational for me. It really helped to kind of solidify the fact that I’m supposed to be here, you know it’s alright for me to be here, and to keep on going. In terms of confidence I can sit and have a conversation with someone that I don’t know, like on the night these people I’d never met, never seen and I was able to talk to them about my work. Looking back at some of the videos people took, it was just mad to think how nervous and anxious I was but I didn’t portray that at all, I came across as quite confident and so it was really good to see that I could kind of do that in the outside world.

I did the Arts Training Scheme, before Our Place, as well. We looked at so many different areas, from the management side of things, how to book the calendars, to the paperwork and the insurances that go with selecting artists, and actually running these shows all the way to the practical stuff like putting up the exhibitions themselves and taking them down as well, the Arts Training Scheme was letting me look into the practical side a lot deeper.

I had an absolutely amazing opportunity to meet so many different artists, get conversations with them, start thinking about what work they're doing and like how that can relate back to me, whether they can help me or I can help them. Through meeting all these different people, it really threw me out of my comfort zones of coming into the lessons, sitting in the corner on my own and not talking to many people. Pretty much everyone that I’ve been in contact with via that, I’m still in contact with now, we all talk about our art and we do little events here there and everywhere, and we do all that together. It’s a real community.

I’m now working towards getting an education, which is a massive thing for me because I didn’t get one first time round, and ultimately working towards giving back as well. That is why I wanted to get into art, because I know that it’s really helped me. Through some of the work that I’ve done I’ve figured out different kind of traumas that I’ve been through. It’s just mad to think that I wouldn’t have known about that if I didn’t start throwing paint all over the place.

I thought I was going to be an addict for the rest of my life, I thought I was going to be homeless for the rest of my life, but I’m applying for University, clean, determined and ultimately I want to then hopefully either come back to teach here maybe one day, and my end goal is to take Art Therapy into the treatment centres.

I had a chat with my mum yesterday and she was telling me that she’s proud of where I’ve been and my recovery and getting out of the situations that I’ve been in, and the fact that I’m looking at going to University. That college course will help in my recovery, help keep me clean, help keep me motivated, you know, can’t go wrong.

So it’s just nice to see that through this project, through coming to Crisis, the Arts Training Scheme, I’ve just been able to develop myself as a person and yeah - the whole journey has been growth, healthy growth.


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