Casa Candida Art.

 

An unfolding journey .....

 
 

St Helens Library and Art School , back in the day. The red brick building on the right

Influences / encouragers.

I  hail from Merseyside, UK.  & often feel I have had several lives rolled into one.

As a young girl, the foundation for my focus in life was laid down when our family would go as a family to Church.

The Nation at this time had suffered greatly. Was still rationed. If you rode into Liverpool there were many remnants of bombed out buildings. People had suffered loss in many forms. Yet there was a sense of relief. A new growing optimism for the future. God was a fact. Not fiction as many see him today.

I still view the world and all that is in it through this lens. Have never lost my faith. It is part of who I am. Inseparable. It is that which sustains me. I am rooted and grounded in LOVE.It is an influence buried deep. It has helped me navigate my journey through life.

As time has evolved, I have moved away from the religious to a deeper understanding of my faith.Able to speak out, with a deep sense of never being alone.  Always I feel rooted and grounded in Love.

 

Born after the War, at a time of great austerity, that makes to-day's version feel affluent. As a child, I was encouraged to draw. My father would call at the local Newspaper Offices, the St.Helens Reporter, on his way home from work and bring us paper offcuts from the latest press. They were huge and there was plenty of it. This gave me the green light to draw. As a severe asthmatic with a lot of time off school /  this was a welcome distraction.

I was taken age eleven, after winning a competition to design a school concert program, to the Art department in the Senior School.

 

This experience, awakened in me, all be it in a puzzled way, I gained an awareness that I was different. Could draw.Was told I had a gift. I became aware that it was a God-given gift. 

At thirteen, I was chosen, to paint a picture to be hung as a gift from the school: in the Captain's cabin of the MV Andoni Palm / A cargo vessel,  that would sail to Africa and bring back hardwoods, when Liverpool was a thriving port. I entered competitions.Had work hung in the town centre. A reminder of their home Port.

Also aged thirteen I was given encouragement to go for an interview to the St.Helens Art School to see a Mr.Gill. He encouraged my gift and explained their plan to start with a small group of children a tuition project, that would encourage us to develop new skills, try new media. I loved these Saturday sessions. They were full of exploration and such enormous fun.

The picture shows .... on the right of the Town Hall, the redbrick Library Building. In my time / The St Helens School of Art. The upper floors/space for the visual arts & the basement, a very well laid out Ceramics studio. In this space were laid the foundations for my lifelong passion for Art. 

 I gained O and A level Art. Went on my own volition, to ask if I could join the Sixth Form, at Cowley Girls' Grammar School. Even though the head of the Comprehensive felt I may not succeed. I was so encouraged by the words of Mr Gill and my encouragers,  I ignored his negative attitude. ....Teachers, be careful how you counsel those with a dream. Pupils, follow what is laid on your heart. Stick with what you know,

I was accepted and went on to gain a place at Bretton Hall College of Arts and Education. Now the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A college which only took, first choice candidates. Set in an amazing Capability Brown Parkland. With lectures in the Hall and estate buildings, it was out of this world. Unique. In its fabulous location & in what it gave. It transformed my life,

A specialist College for the Arts and Education. It was bliss. Beyond words for a working class person. A deep privilege to attend.Thank you, Sir Alec.

It also gave a B.Ed for those having trained at RADA or the RCM etc..So was ram jam packed with those who went on to influence the next generation in all aspects of the arts.

When in Hall, you could wake up to the sound of Mozart being played live, drifting from open windows. Poets and Art Historians came. It was like being transported to Heaven.It oozed creativity and fun. In Bauhaus fashion, we attended, mandatory music and movement sessions to start the day. Twice weekly. In a fabulous setting by a teacher who had danced with the greats. We were being marinated in culture with a big C.

Sir Alec Clegg was the instigator, among others, who shared his vision, of a way of educating that put the child at the centre. None of the straight jackets to muffle creativity we have today. We had incredible freedom and responsibility. Freedom to determine our own timetables and curriculum /  that grew out of everything we were taught at Bretton,

I left heartbroken, the dream over.Time to enter the world once more and find a job. I became a Primary School teacher.

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In my twenties I felt increasingly restless about teaching as a life long occupation.

With my friend Pat Klerk, now a writer, I packed up all my belongings and set off on a trip overland across Europe. Using the experience of Lawrence  Durrell, in his  "Spirit of Place", as a point of reference. As inspiration. Ended up on Crete.

An adventure that changed my life, just as Bretton had done. 

 I came back with a new focus. Initially to paint. But, that is all another story.

A seismic shift took place in my focus and perspectives on life. A door was opening. Like a flower or a butterfly, I was evolving through letting go.

Since this time, I have gained new directions across my life, but have always used my arty gifts and skills as a teacher, to enhance learning in whatever new area I found work.

Give encouragement to those at the beginning of their journey.

As a teacher at the time of the Ugandan Boat people, I taught art as a way of extending language skills.

Later, as a Senior Nurse/counsellor, in the dead hours of the night, I opened the art area to help people disturbed by life events, withdrawal from substance abuse and mental health issues, towards finding a cathartic process to voice for their disturbed feelings. Understand them and let go. Working in the art room seemed to do this. Unravel, like a tangled ball of wool their deep distress.

Our team, made extinct, a lock-up solution,  for managing emotional distress. We replaced it with a safe / relaxation room. Accused of breaking Health & Safety, we ploughed on. Found support from the NHS Trust's, Chief Executive who donated funds. We created and painted a relaxation room. By the users / for the users. A tranquil space full of colour and light.

In a home for severely handicapped adults, we made another relaxation room. Designed with the residents and a great deal of help from Ikea / who donated many items & made a training video / of what it was we were doing with their donations. A wonderful way to recycle returned goods. To bring the outside in for those lovely residents trapped by their bodies. Give expression and contentment. A space to unfold and enjoy time out in a tranquil comforting space.

All from the life-changing time at Bretton that gave me unconditional positive regard. Coupled with a space to develop creativity, a positive, can-do attitude. Major tools & life skills to share across a lifetime. 

Putting my personal, creative needs on the back burner .... until now. I am at last being well blessed with my new studio space. My Casa Candida, my very own little House of Light. Free to enjoy my twilight years, in a space filled with colour and light.

Now is my time to paint/take up where I left off.

To share through this medium / all the treasures I unfold and find & can now share.

Create a reflection of the intense beauty and grace, I still find in our broken World.

Unfolding this beauty / to reflect that inner light we all have if we refocus and let it shine. Shine out hope, as a beacon to those in need of its light. Unfold. Unpack .Share. Time to unfold and use my gift.

I am back home to creativity. Now is a time to create.  Time to have fun. To share my joy in the visual language I find in colour and light.

My passion is to paint.  Create symphonies with paint.

                              ============================================

I am still a work in progress .  Tempered through adverity.   

 No longer a slave to the whims of the world.

I can seek treasures of a different kind.

Be bold. Laugh loud. Be me.

Do what I have always wanted to do ....just paint.

Know, I am loved.

Never alone.

 

 
 

Bretton Hall College, Leeds University/now the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Images are of :

* Bretton Hall in its Capability Brown landscape.

* Me aged about 19 @ Bretton Hall College.

* Bottom Floor Hall on right / facing the lake.

* Me @ 70 in my replacement scarf.

* Jaume Plensa: Yorkshire Sculpture Park / Heads 

Therapy Spaces ...

* 1.      "Bringing the Outside in" 

               A relaxation area.

 The brief was given by the residents. Young people with additional care needs. Furnishings were from the IKEA returns Depot, who made a training video to educate staff about the possibilities of using returned items.

 

*  The Comfort Zone

 A relaxation & Therapy room. On a Male Acute NHS Psychiatric Ward, used 24/7 by those needing supervised intensive care / or by groups c/o Nursing Staff. The room was decorated by the Service Users. 

Jaume Plenxa .... St. Helens
The dream

My little studio space. Casa Candida / my little house of light.

Recently, I have the addition of studio space in which to paint again.

In old age, I have the time and resources to explore my passion for colour and light. I am on a wonderful journey of creativity.... gathering inspiration from nature to transform it into an expression of the joy I find in being alive.

This may seem weird to those who know me as life has never been easy. It wasn't till I let go with Trust and immersed myself in its beauty and turned away from the darkness life can bring and looked ahead into the light.

It is always the transforming beauty of light which opens up a new door to a new perception of what I see before me.

This new lens transforms and gives a heightened impact to the fabulous effect light plays in linking us through the gift of sight to a heightened new sense of reality. I see through a new lens. 

It is like painting a symphony through light.

My aim is to capture the intense beauty I find all around me, and via the camera lens, I teak the digital images giving them a new focus, that match the joy I find in having the gift of life. They shine out and tell their own story.

To share this joy with others..... my diary ..... my colour filled journal. 

 

My next project will be " The Peace Poppy"