“Creativity is magic. Creativity makes you just live in the moment, it helps you forget your other concerns, it is absorbing and satisfying.”
Not only is Pauline Stanley passionate about art, she is passionate about encouraging creativity among her local community.
It wasn’t until later in life that she took a Fine Art degree, graduating at the age of 55, but Pauline has worked with events and organisations including Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival, Larmer Tree Festival, ArtsReach and Arts University Bournemouth on local projects.
When the funding began to dry up, she desperately wanted to continue her community art work, so decided to set up her own studio.
“There was no community studio for people in Bournemouth,” she explains.
“I felt it was something that was needed here and something that was accessible. So I applied to the Arts Council and got a £10,000 start-up fund. We opened in November 2013.”
Pauline, who has a background working in mental health, was delighted to find that The Artisan Studio, which is based in a Wellbeing centre in Wimborne Road, Winton, is now sustainable without funding.
The studio runs a huge range of classes and workshops seven days a week, including groups for those with Aspergers, physical disabilities, mental health issues, learning disabilities, dementia, ME, as well as sessions for carers and those who have suffered a stroke.
There are also three weekly groups for home-educating families.
“We have developed a unique sustainable model of working whereby the weekday disability art sessions are financially supported by the weekend’s public sessions,” says Pauline.
“Everyone is welcome at any session at Artisan Studio, whatever their age or ability - it is a totally inclusive project. We offer everything here - we do print-making, we do textiles, we do alternative photography - making photos without a camera, we call it ‘lensless’ - lots of different things.”
Pauline ensures the studio has a relaxed atmosphere, and that all abilities are welcome.
“The worst that can happen is that people don’t like it and they put it in the bin,” she says, “but people progress really fast. We have 21 tutors who do the weekend classes - they’re all artists and passionate about their subject.”
The studio has a full timetable every weekend, and has also started running evening classes to cope with demand.
Pauline, who now wants to set up a travel fund to enable people who live outside the area to attend, runs all the weekday sessions and takes care of all the admin for the studio, admitting she probably works 13-hour days, six days a week. But she insists she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m happy now,” she smiles, “it’s what I wanted it to be. People tell me it’s life-changing, that it’s rescued them. Some of the people with mental health problems have said it’s saved their lives because otherwise they would have committed suicide.
“I think working with the classes and the materials it’s really therapeutic; then you have the social aspect. For me, it’s really fulfilling because it brings in all the different areas of my life I love it, I love coming to work.”
- Artisan Studio is always in need of volunteers and donations of materials. If you can help, or want to find out more about courses, call studio manager and lead artist Pauline Stanley on 07729 829209, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit thecommunityartstudio.blogspot.co.uk.