Mandeep has worked in printmaking for the past seventeen years, since training in Fine Art at De Montfort University, Leicester. She has previously worked in Museums, across varied roles including using natural history collections as a creative source of inspiration for outreach workshops. Alongside her printmaking practice, Mandeep continues to work with Arts and Heritage Organisations delivering printmaking and bookmaking workshops across the East Midlands and is a member of The Society of All Artists, Leicester Print Workshop and Harborough Artists Cluster.
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A couple of weeks have gone by since I released my first ‘Show your workings’ post, and the very action of writing and releasing it has helped set my mental wheels in motion.
These blog posts are a kind of behind the scenes, honest inner workings of someone running an Arts for Health social enterprise and attempting live up to all the wellbeing advice shared across our projects.
It is very difficult to separate out me from my work, which in most respects is a good thing. At the moment I’m feeling the need to simplify and for the first time ever I am drawn to writing as a way of teasing out and sharing how it’s all going.
Right now, I am up in Scotland on holiday for the week with my two greyhounds Mabel and Storm. Actually, this is both a holiday and a recce, because Scotland is where I want to be living and working in a couple of years time.
Something I love about going away is trying to take only what I need and I’m getting quite good at it, it’s the dogs who have too much stuff! Minimalism is something of real interest to me, coupled with the design quality elements of the Arts and Crafts movement.
When I’m packing I start thinking about James Bond. You never see him with a travel iron in the background, routing around in the bottom of an over stuffed bag for the second half of a matching pair of socks, do you.
Whilst here, and in a space with relatively few personal belongings to distract, I have been thinking about how to further simplify when I get back. The Minimalists and plenty of others have been an inspiration for a good few years now and my home is making its way nicely towards being simple, creative and functional. I earn slightly more than I need to live on at the moment, so anything ‘spare’ is being ploughed back in to my home – a terraced house that needed a good dose of love injecting back in to it.
In the last three years I have tried and tested ways of applying that order and simplicity to my work knowing that it is just not possible to be all things to all people and still work at a level of quality. By building in time to stop, step back and reflect, the times small sections of the simplicity scaffolding are at risk of falling away are much more manageable than ever before, but there’s still room for improvement. As I write these posts I’m sure I’ll want to share more of the practicalities; the nuts and bolts of what exactly it is that’s working, not working, work in progress. Right now, that feels slightly outside of my comfort zone, but that’s part of the point of starting to write and share. Stick with it. I know I will.
Today sees the start of a different type of blog post from me.
See what you think …
As a child I was always rearranging my bedroom. Dragging furniture around on a Saturday afternoon gave a fresh perspective and renewed vigour, if you can have renewed vigour aged 12.
That feeling of wanting to reshape, refresh, reinvigorate and restore has never left me and over the last couple of years I’ve found new ways to embrace it in work and in life. I’ve not perfected anything, and I’m not sure I ever want to completely tick that challenge off the list; it’s one for life, to be tweaked and tailored through every new adventure and challenge.
If you’ve come across me before, you’ll know I spend a lot of time in supermarket car parks thinking about things … everything. It’s my safe space, parked at a distance, vaguely observing the hum drum of daily life, letting the filing cabinet that is my mind do some sifting and sorting.
Well, it feels like time to make the next step, or maybe let’s call it ‘a next step’, because I’m not 100% sure what it is yet, but I do know I might burst soon if I don’t do something about all these ideas and feelings building up and vying for my attention.
I have promised myself (say it out loud and write it in a blog post so it actually happens) that in December and January I will take some time out to work on what’s next and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that. There are some things I want to do in the lead up to that time too.
Running a social enterprise is tough. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and more often than not I wish there was a pause button because as much as I love every bit of what I do, it’s FULL ON, all the time. That might suit some people, but I know I need space, I need time away from everyone and everything to be the best I can and offer the best I can to all those Beauty and Utility Arts works with.
So, I thought I would share this part of the path with anyone who is interested. The other day a friend said the words ‘lifestyle business’ to me and those two words have bounced around my head ever since. That’s exactly what the aim is, to incorporate this new understanding of just how crucial reflection and simplicity is to my work and life and see if it can somehow impact on them both.
I’ve decided to call these posts ‘Show your workings’ because this is going to be about working through, sharing and testing some findings and tools I’ve already come across and those I’ll will hopefully find along the way.
Time to put the kettle on now and set the wheels in motion, so catch you soon.
I have been working as Project Director for Cotesbach Educational Trust for just over two years now, in addition to running Beauty and Utility Arts, and just over a week ago, we won an award!
Cotesbach Educatinal Trust is small charitable organisation in South Leicestershire, which comprises a Grade II listed Victorian schoolhouse and three adjacent buildings, set within the grounds of Cotesbach Estate. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities relating to environment, heritage and arts, using the land, local history and extensive family archive as the focus to ‘reconnect with place and land to develop skills for the future’. We live in a fast changing society; we endeavour to enable people to better understand their roots and discover from the past and the surroundings how to forge a more sustainable future.
On the evening of Thursday 21st July, Cotesbach Educational Trust had the privilege of attending the Leicestershire and Rutland Heritage Forum & Leicestershire County Council Heritage Awards at the University of Leicester’s Museum Studies Department.
The whole evening was a celebration of the wide ranging heritage work taking place across our local communities and all those who dedicate their time, hearts and energies in each of the 40 + organisations represented within the forum.
Despite stiff competition, Cotesbach Educational Trust was thrilled to win an award in the ‘Bringing Heritage Alive’ category. Our winning project was ‘Re-Writing the Archives’, an Arts Council England and Leicestershire County Council funded project, working with local Director Chris Hill, which ran throughout 2015.
Over a chilly weekend in January five professional UK writers delved in to our unique archive and each produced a short audio drama based on their discoveries. Plays were recorded by a professional acting ensemble and aired at vintage tea parties and on a specially designed microsite, still accessible via the website www.cotesbachschoolhouse.org.uk
We have over 6000 documents preserved within our archive and every one of them has a story to tell, so winning an award for making our work available to a whole new audience was just fantastic!
Last Wednesday I decided to make cowboy pie for tea. I’d heard it mentioned on the Chris Evan’s breakfast show not so long back and had thought about it, quite possibly more than normal, since then.
Work finished for the day, ingredients sorted, tummy rumbling.
Popping it into the oven I decided to nip the dogs round the block for a quick walk while it cooked, and that’s when the day fell out of my hands.
I’ve owned (or been owned by) rescue greyhounds since 2007 and I’m now on my third (Mabel) and fourth (Storm). Sid and Betty having passed away over the last few years.
Walking back up the side entry to get to our house, the usually laid back bears spotted a fast moving cat before I did. About 10 seconds later I was halfway further up the path, on the floor.
Looking down I knew things were not quite right, but holding on to the dogs had been my number one priority. That cat owes me big time. I managed to get up, get in the house and collapse on the sofa. I knew I needed to take a look inside my boot. Ouch. My left ankle was already twice the size and a bit of an odd shape.
Two very kind friends, Jill and Ian helped me out of the house and down to A & E where I found out my ankle wasn’t broken, but sprained very badly. Dispatched about midnight with crutches and strong painkillers my lovely Mum very kindly picked me up and got me home.
That was a week ago, my leg looks like Shrek’s from below the ankle and I’ve not been able to put any weight on my foot yet or go anywhere near the crutches. Luckily with the wonders of the internet I’ve been able to work from my bed, with Mabel and Storm admiring their handy work in amongst snoozes.
Thinking takes up a good percentage of most of my days, but there’s been room for a bit more the last week and my ‘unfortunate incident’ has made me reflect on National Carers Week.
Carers Week is an annual event, running 6 – 12 June in 2016. The campaign aims to ‘raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.’
Another line from the Carers Week website really struck a chord with me over the last week. ‘Every day, 6,000 people become carers. Many don’t know how or where to get help. For some, caring comes suddenly: someone you love is taken ill or has an accident,…’ Well, that was me. One minute making tea and the next under an X Ray machine.
My Mum dropped everything and came to the rescue. She’s stayed with me and helped do all the things I couldn’t, in amongst a full time job of her own. I don’t know what I would’ve done otherwise and I am incredibly grateful. This is going to be short term (apart from the life long caring role of a Mum!) but reading through other blogs and statistics by carers or those being cared for, it’s clear the role played by all those giving a helping hand is enormous and a focused week long Carers Week campaign is a great way to keep raising awareness of the role and the support carers we can’t do without.
In amongst skidding down alleyways and rescuing hounds, I run a very small Arts and Health social enterprise called Beauty and Utility Arts where we develop and manage creative projects and products with social benefits.
At the moment we have a live crowdfunding campaign for a creative dementia product we are developing called A Book of Me, a creative, portable A5 resource for people living with a dementia and all those supporting them. A Book of Me will include: beautifully designed sections for entering life stories, spaces to make notes before, during and after appointments, information about UK organisations offering support and positive hints, tips and quotes on living well with a dementia.
If you get a minute to look and would like to support us, that would be fantastic.
Oh, are the dogs feeling remorseful and looking after me? Well, sort of. It’s a 15 minute return journey to the bathroom and one of them is always keeping my space warm when I get back. Oh, and who doesn’t watch Netflix through the back legs of a greyhound?
Best wishes/ttfn Katherine
Arts Professional magazine approached me recently and asked if I would contribute to a series they run call ‘If I were 22’, offering my 22 year old self five pieces of advice.
Hope you like it.
This coming Monday, Beauty and Utility Arts and Little Bird SOS will be starting a brand new partnership project.
Art on Prescription, funded by North West Leicestershire’s Staying Healthy grant, will run at Measham Medical Centre until June 2016, offering practice patients opportunities to join in one of two six week arts based projects, either via GP/IAPT referral or self referral.
Art on Prescription aims to create a safe, relaxed space for patients experiencing low level mental ill health to explore their creative side away from everyday worries and concerns.
Our project will be evaluated for efficacy and impact of arts based interventions for patients and staff within GP surgeries.
Great ideas and projects happen at the right time for the right reasons.
I’m a firm believer in that, although starting out back in 2010 I wanted everything to happen straight away … now please!
The two sets of cards in this photo represent the next phase in a truly rewarding project for Beauty and Utility Arts and now feels like just the right time to reignite our work and get excited again.
It won’t be long before we tell you more, so you know what they say … watch this space.