This month, we invite you to join us for a very special blog takeover.
Venture Arts is an award-winning visual arts organisation working with learning disabled artists. Through studio programmes, exhibitions and collaborative projects, Venture Arts remove barriers to the arts, putting artists in the lead, championing neurodiversity and providing pathways for every individual to develop their creative identity.
Read about how Venture Arts has helped one artist, Louise Hewitt pursue her passion for the arts and creative writing.
‘My journey to becoming a Venture Arts Artist and Blogger’ By Louise Hewitt
My name is Louise Hewitt and I have been an artist with Venture Arts since 2019. I am a ceramicist, textile artist, storyteller and poet and I also have autism. My favourite material to make art is clay and I take my inspiration from visiting art galleries, museums, garden centres, books and nature. Then I take my ideas, do some sketches, and decide which ones I am going to transform into a 3D designs.
The reason I love using clay is that it helps with my autism. It makes me feel calm and relaxed and at one with the earth. Nothing bothers me when creating with clay, I can forget about what is going on around me and allow my creativity to flow and not feel trapped by anything else.
I also volunteer at Hulme Community Garden Centre as a Creative Writing Group Leader. My work at the garden centre inspired my Garden Monsters series, a collection of ceramic models of different garden characters. It was through my work at the garden centre that I got introduced to Venture Arts.
The art I create at Venture Arts is often inspired by nature and I love using butterflies as these are some of my favourite animals. Since being with Venture Arts I have had many incredible opportunities that I would never have dreamed of, from my work being in art exhibitions, such as ‘Grow’ at the Portico Library back in 2019, to ‘Until It Looks Like This’ at the People’s History Museum in 2022.
I have also been involved in some amazing Cultural Enrichment Programme placements with Venture Arts, at places like Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and the Portico Library. My favourite had to be Elizabeth Gaskell’s House as I love to read books and to learn about an author that lived in Manchester was truly mind blowing and inspiring.
One of my biggest achievements has been to get my first book published at Venture Arts, called Garden Monster Diaries, which I wrote and designed during lockdown with the help of an inspirational artist called Anne Marie. I have also had opportunities to showcase some of my work in special needs schools and run mini workshops on behalf of Venture Arts. To see my work out there and people viewing it is truly amazing and gives me the confidence to find new inspirations and creative ideas for my work. Without Venture Arts, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have achieved without them, they do truly amazing and inspirational work with people with learning disabilities.
My work developed into more writing over lockdown, and I first became a blogger for Venture Arts back in May 2021, when I mentioned to their marketing officer, Debbie Cowley, that I like doing creative writing and visiting art galleries. She suggested that I try doing some creative writing for their website and I thought why not, I like both so I thought no harm in giving it a try. I have found this to be one of the best things I could have done. My blogging allows me to express how I feel about the exhibitions and access, and who I would recommend it to. I must admit, I was pretty nervous at first, hard to believe that was over two years ago now! Now it is my favourite thing to do! Some of the exhibitions I have been to have been absolutely mind blowing, such as Althea McNish, The Colour Is Mine, at The Whitworth, and some have made me feel upset, such as Nothing About Us Without Us, at People’s History Museum. But the blog has allowed me to write and process how I feel about the art I see. If people enjoy reading that, then that makes me very proud.
Find out more about Venture Arts and becoming a Venture Arts artist at venturearts.org