Each week our volunteer mentor and USW Creative and Therapeutic Arts student, Karen Slater facilitates a Selfcare and Craft group at our centre in Pontypridd.

The sessions are free to attend and offer a safe space to explore the world of art with a focus on self-care. The sessions are a great success mainly due to Karen's friendly, fun and supportive approach alongside her passion for therapeutic art. 

Project - "Self Portrait"

Over a period of 6 weeks participants explored what power meant to them, through the medium of clay. 

Their final pieces are a culmination of this work and their self-exploration under the title of “Self Portrait”. They were open to interpret this title however they chose, and have explained their pieces in their own words below. These pieces were shown in the Empower Me exhibition in Cardiff. 

Karen Slater said

It felt wonderful to have been able to facilitate the whole thing - from getting the participants to open up and share through art, right up to presenting their pieces in a professional gallery

The artists have remained anonymous to protect their identities.

Together

When I was given this project I really did not know what to make. As I bent and squeezed and twisted and turned the clay looking for inspiration I found myself flattening it with my hand, leaving a handprint. That lead to what you see today. When painting it I added glow in the dark pigment. I felt it was like adding a glimpse of brightness to bad times, like a light in the darkness.



Why together? Well, to me, true power comes not only from being independent but also from learning to use our independence in a joint effort and thus achieve truly bigger and better things. True power comes from interdependence. But sometimes life has its twists and turns... These are times when we need to count on others. For all of us there will be a friendly hand.


There is always a way and the way is together. Come and hold my hand, I will be holding yours. After all "When 'I' is replaced by 'WE' even illness becomes wellness" - Malcom X

Disempowerment

Through doing the courses at Women’s Aid and belonging to three support groups I've made some wonderful friends that I would call my new family.

The art therapy course has been the icing on the cake. I feel I have become stronger and stronger every day in every way.

So when Karen gave me a massive lump of clay and said the theme was “empowerment” and “self portrait”, I thought I would try and do just that. But when I started, my hands seemed to have other plans and instead of creating an empowered self-portrait, they ended up creating an image of the disempowered me.

After finishing it, I have realised how far I have come.

The Power of life

The fist represents force, both positive and negative, in life. The positive force of moving forward with aims and goals, and the negative force of violence and other bad things that can happen in life.

The heart represents love, and how a broken heart mends and becomes stronger.

Naked - by Karen Slater

Although I run the therapeutic art sessions, I decided to create my own piece to go alongside my fellow Women’s Aid RCT artists as it felt right to bare my soul in the same way I was asking them to.

I realised during these sessions that I have allowed people to strip away my power over the years, by handing over my sense of self worth to others. Whether it be internal or external judgements I learned to hide my body, and hate looking at it.

I wanted to undo this learned behaviour and work towards self love, and hopefully in the process find my feminine power again.

I started by taking photographs of myself using a tripod and a timer, and then created this self portrait using air-drying clay. As a sculpted each curve I told myself that this is a physical symbol of me reclaiming the power for myself - by seeing myself as a beautiful work of art.

New sessions

The selfcare and craft sessions are taking a small break over the Summer holidays but are starting back on Thursday 1st August between 11am - 1pm. 

Booking is easy, just call the team on 01443 400791. 

For more information about Karen Slater, please go to: ​www.geetlush.com