Elly-Michele talks about STUDIO - the new Centrepoint arts programme
Elly-Michele has been a Centrepoint resident for two years since leaving care. She took part in the Centrepoint arts engagement scheme STUDIO and had her work exhibited at the Saatchi gallery. This has given her the platform and confidence to continue developing her creativity.
How have Centrepoint supported you?
“The support I’ve received at Centrepoint has been amazing. I’ve been dealing with my mental health all my life. I used to get told I had behaviour issues for a long time. Centrepoint helped me to get a formal diagnosis which has been a great help. I’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Now I just want to learn about the condition myself and learn how to deal with it in my own way.”
What urged you to get involved with the STUDIO project at Centrepoint?
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with art. My dad is very artistic and works with found things which I’ve been really influenced by. Saatchi has been my favourite art gallery to visit since I was 15. I’ve never seen myself as an artist. I work as a model and I'm used to working with my face and body so it was strange to do something different.”
What did you produce and what did you gain from the experience?
“I used self -portraits and some poetry I had written from a difficult time in my life to express what I was going through really. It was therapeutic. It was nice that some of my more recent friends and my dad and sister came to see the exhibition, so they could really see the transition too.”
One of Elly-Michele's artworks that was exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery
“I have started my own photography account on instagram and I am also writing and drawing a lot more. it was a thrilling experience that really guided me to a place where I can enjoy art on my own terms.
“I’d love to continue being involved in the project. My main goal is to help others survive the kind of things that I’ve gone through. I want to let people know that they’re not alone and things will get easier even if it takes a long time.”
“There’s a stigma associated with being a child in care. It’s hard to break free of that - of people’s misconceptions. This art project is a way of showing people that care leavers can be creative and contribute.”
What were the STUDIO staff/facilitators like?
“I really enjoyed the company. I suffer with ongoing mental health issues and to have the support I needed when I needed was great.”
How did they help to facilitate creative expression?
“As someone who has been telling themselves for over a decade art is not something I can do, I forced myself into a situation where art could be whatever I wanted, and (hopefully) people could see my visions too. Centrepoint gave me the opportunity to expand myself and contrast it with something I knew I was good at - poetry. The staff gave me the tools I needed to make my projects a reality without hurting my own savings."
What was the best thing about being involved in the workshops and exhibition?
“Probably the aftermath - I was going through a grieving during the time of making my art and during the exhibit, but being surrounded by my friends and family really helped everything around me feel a little easier. I have never heard my dad speak about me and my friends so positively and it was amazing to see him so proud of me.”
Elly-Michele hopes to get involved in future Studio projects and to continue producing art using different mixed media and formats.