There’s a dinosaur on the chief exec’s filing cabinet
Updated: Sep 2
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the office of Creative Response’s chief executive was the dinosaur perched on top of her filing cabinet. It’s a delightfully green graciliceratops, I think….
I previously visited Creative Response, the arts charity that Folk Inspiration supports, more than 20 years ago when my father volunteered there. The vibe was pretty eclectic and full of playful creativity then, and I’m glad to see it still is today.
Down the corridor from the office is the ‘Long Room’. Here, the shelves and cupboards are crammed with artists’ materials and tools. Acrylic paints, not in tubes but in generously sized containers, shout “pick me!” in one corner. A large press for printmaking waits like a gangster’s sidekick in another corner, ready to exert some serious pressure. Art of all shapes, sizes and forms grace the walls and almost every flat surface. On top of a sturdy plan chest, a slate grey triceratops is joined by a fleet of royal corgis, while a bright orange pterodactyl patrols the space above. Around the corner, the clay room has a suitably organic and earthly feel. Jaunty wooden cupboards and straight-laced steel cabinets nudge up to each together, laden with glazes, pots and sculptures.
I followed in Dad’s footsteps and joined Creative Response as a volunteer in September. Located above Farnham Library in a few high-ceilinged, light-filled rooms, this half-Wonderland, half-Jurassic Park of a place fills with people each week day and hums with prolific art making.
In the act of giving people the opportunity to do something creative in a supportive environment, enchanting works of art flow from many hands, some tentatively, some industriously. While this is happening, cups of tea and coffee are offered and drunk, many acts of kindness are exchanged, and moments of joy and sadness shared.
Not only does a lump of grey clay become a graceful, shimmering vase, or a few strips of wet paper and a tangle of wire turn into a prehistoric mammal with an unusually bright complexion, I sense that the encouragement, gentle coaching and support provided by the wonderful team of artists, volunteers, staff and trustees at Creative Response are transforming people’s lives too.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” –Maya Angelou
Creative Response offers a unique, supportive environment, promoting personal resilience and well-being through the arts, working with individuals who are vulnerable due to mental health issues, learning difficulties, physical difficulties and substance misuse problems.
Our arts workers are practising artists, who work alongside the participants to share skills, knowledge and creativity in a safe, supportive and understanding environment.