Catherine is a 61 year old carer. During the third UK COVID-19 lockdown, she took part in several of our Create to Connect workshops. A response to the pandemic, Create to Connect was designed to reduce isolation for people aged 55 and over. Workshops run by 12 different artists were hosted on Zoom.
She has struggled with her mental health and has had negative experiences with art in the past. However, Rebekah Porter’s Into the Woods course spurred a profound change in her life. It sparked creativity and improved her overall perception of herself and her creativity.
I really struggled with lockdown, trying to shield and look after my mum and son. I’ve had depression for about thirty years. I’ve not been good at looking after myself. I had a bad experience doing art at school. It was very tedious and traditional, I was told I was rubbish. Before the course began, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was blown away by the depth of it. I’m a social person and I don’t get to meet anybody at work. Doing a course like this meant I got to see people. It was great to have that informal time with people. I met some really lovely people. I’d love to meet them face to face sometime. It was nice to hear other people talking about how they’ve also been struggling.
The ‘Into the Woods’ workshops resonated with me. It was really beautiful being read to as an adult. Rebekah wove our experiences into Carol Ann Duffy’s Lost Happy Endings story, so that anybody could relate to it. It surprised me that the course sparked creativity in me. I never think of myself as a creative person, because I’ve never had the opportunity or space. I have lots of self-esteem issues. I can take some of this course, embed it in my life and benefit from it in the future. It’s been a bit profound. I’m now less judgemental to myself.
As often as I can, I’ve started making time to do something creative for myself. I’m going to keep going because, regardless of what I create, I’ve carved out that little bit of mindful time. Just learning that you can have a go at things, and whatever you do, it’s been a valuable use of time. I’m now volunteering to run a journaling workshop over Zoom. I’ve used what I’ve learnt from the courses. I’m really excited to have discovered City Arts.
Please note: The participant’s name has been changed to protect their anonymity. The artwork in this article might not have been created by the participant whose story is being shared.