Case Study

“I was constantly surprised how well I felt I was doing”

Date published: 16 Dec 2021

Posted by: Joe Pick

Cawley and Meridith tighten screw on homemade metal forearm armour

Cawley is 27 years old and a member of our Young Producers group. Young Producers is a group for 18-30 year olds looking to be a part of Nottingham’s thriving creative scene. The group support and encourage each other to take part in the arts. Cawley joined during lockdown.

Working with professional filmmakers, the Young Producers created City Arts’ contribution to Junction Arts’ brilliant ‘Our Place’ project. They were mentored by filmmakers Luke Radford and Toby Curson. Cawley was involved in recruiting the mentors, creating a film concept and directing. You can watch all six of the Young Producers’ films on our website.

Taking part in the Our Place project was a transformative process. It brought me out of my shell. I joined Young Producers so I could have more confidence in my own work as an artist. It was rewarding to see my film idea go from start to finish. Knowing the final product was something I made was quite special.

I have had issues with my self-esteem and I have been working on that for a while. Over lockdown, I decided to get therapy because I had been shooting myself in the foot for years. I was making this film whilst in therapy. It helped me to put the bolts back in the right place. There was an element of identity I wanted to see come out.

Gaby being filmed wearing a homemade metal forearm armour
Filming for ‘Our Place’

I actually did a cut of the film that I chose not to put out. It had dialogue over the film that spoke about rebuilding the self. I’ve always rebelled against myself because I wanted to fit in. I’ve figured out who I am – that it’s ok to not be a man or a woman and to identify as non-binary. That was the crux of the dialogue.

Luke and Toby were great to work with. They are very skilled at what they do. They’re great people, they listen, and they’re helpful. It’s been nice to be myself around them.

Gaby and fimmaker Toby Curson talking whilst looking at a camera
Gaby & Toby Curson

During the project, I was constantly surprised how well I felt I was doing. I’ve gained confidence working with a creative team. We quickly built the trust I needed to collaborate, share and have input. Gaining confidence creatively was really significant.

For the last freelance job I did, I was trying to show more of the confidence I’ve gained by showing up and feeling like I can take up space and do my work well.

Sparks flying during metal work

The more I talk about this project with people and the more I realise what we achieved together. It was great. I still don’t think it has sunk in. It is going to mean so much to me.

Cawley’s story show the powerful impact City Arts’ projects have. We work with people who are under-represented in the arts, supporting them to develop their creative talent whilst boosting confidence and wellbeing.

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