The Persian poet Rumi once said: “Inside you, there’s an artist you don’t know about.” Artisan Studio invites everyone to be creative, imaginative, and inventive. The studio is a space free of judgement or elitism. “We welcome everyone despite age, skills, or mental capabilities,” says its founder Pauline Stanley.
Seven years ago, art projects manager Pauline Stanley realised she needed to make a change. Her work projects had become stale, and there were no new collaborations scheduled in her planner. Thus, in November 2013, she welcomed the first students to Artisan Studio, Bournemouth and Poole’s Independent Community Art Studio.
Its mission is rooted in the belief that every person is an artist. The studio offers a wide range of arts, writing, photography, crafts, and textiles courses. Including sessions for people with mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, Asperger’s syndrome, stroke victims, home educated children, and vulnerable individuals.
Director and Health Practitioner Pauline believes that artistic expression should be freely available to everyone since creativity significantly improves personal wellbeing.
“Many children are told that they can’t be creative by their strict teachers,” she explained. “Consequently, early in their lives, they abandon any creative self-expression. Drawing, painting, or crafts. When they start working with us, their creativity gates open up, and people create beautiful works”.
Multiple research studies show that creating art helps process unexpressed emotions. It reduces stress and anxiety, increases self-esteem, stimulates mental functions, releases feel-good chemical dopamine, and even relieves pain.
Pauline confesses that she is highly critical of arts elitism and believes that everyone can create unique and inspiring works. “We are not looking for perfect artworks; we are looking for interesting artworks,” she said.
She noted that many renowned artists saw the value and potential of “untrained” or “amateur” artists’ works. For example, Pablo Picasso, famous for breaking art rules, noted: “Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon.”
SYNTHESIS OF LIFE EXPERIENCE
More than 50 highly skilled artists are teaching classes at the Artisan Studio. “There are many great local artists who are willing to share their skills and inspire others,” said Pauline. “However, we look for those who can step away from the strict academic teaching style and focus on encouraging people to delve into their creative process.”
The studio also welcomes recent university graduates to gain professional teaching skills and work experience placements from local colleges.
Artisan Studio is the synthesis of Pauline’s entire life experiences. Her parents were both amateur artists, but at the same time, practical people. They taught their three daughters a variety of skills. Early on, they learnt to fix a broken bike, sew, knit, and creative expression such as painting and drawing. “They draw our attention to our surroundings. For example, during the forest walks, our parents would ask us to count all shades of green. Once, I counted more than seventy!” she said.
However, she did not start her professional life as an artist, but as a mental health nurse and worked in psychiatric hospitals. Pauline was never interested in buying expensive cars, homes, or designer clothes. “If you are not interested in material gain, you choose to look for the meaning of life in different fields,” she explained.
Throughout her life, she held many different jobs that all equipped Pauline with the skills to open the Artisan Studio. Pauline worked as a nurse, film researcher, and art tutor. She managed a children’s nursery, a gym, and a nursing home. At 55, Pauline enrolled at Arts University Bournemouth and acquired a degree in Fine Art. She also has diplomas in reflexology and aromatherapy.
A CARING PLACE TO BE
Since opening, the number of students has grown consistently at the Artisan Studio. Before the pandemic, almost 200 people were attending classes.
“We are not only teaching skills; we have created a friendly and supportive environment,” said Pauline. “People from different walks of life come here, and they form new friendships. Some people are vulnerable or lonely, and our studio is the only place where they can talk to somebody during the entire week. We care, and we listen.”
The studio is currently closed due to the pandemic. However, Pauline is busy with other tasks. Updating the website, working on creative projects, and endless administrative tasks. During lockdown, Zoom classes haven’t proved popular among members, but they all keep in touch on phone chats.
“It is a waiting game. Our area has to be in Tier 1 for us to open the Studio safely,” Pauline said. She does not doubt that the Artisan Studio will weather out the pandemic and works to ensure that everyone feels safe upon return.
Artisan Studio is located at Branksome Centre on Recreation Road, Branksome. For more information and to keep up with their news, check out their Facebook page. You can also look at other local art and design stories here. And don’t forget to follow HQB News on our socials: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.