Karl’s Story

“I’ve been painting and drawing since my teens, but I didn’t finish my university degree because I got put in a mental health unit. I’m hoping to use my experience volunteering with Inkwell so that I can go back to university and obtain the actual qualification.

I help with the batik class on a Thursday, and also the Tuesday morning group, which is quite informal and student-led. It’s a great environment. Everybody’s got a skill – you’re always feeding off people’s ideas, picking up new techniques. People don’t judge you on the pieces you create. Mine are quite dark which can unsettle people, but the feedback isn’t negative.

My art references my poetry and vice versa. I’ve done a piece called ‘Curiosity of the Empty Display Cabinet’, it’s all about when you’re empty and have nothing left to give, nothing left for people to take from you apart from your heart. Today I did it in acrylic and charcoal for the first time.

I’m very proud of being able to paint again. I got comfortable doing little sketch book doodles, and now I’m working with bigger pieces and getting more confident with using paints. With batik also, I didn’t know anything about it before I started coming here, and I’m learning it as a process through the classes.

If I wasn’t coming down to Inkwell, I’d be sat at home vegetating and my mental state would decline. Whereas you come down here, as a volunteer or participant in the classes, and you’re around people – they might not have the same issues as you but they have understanding, so you feel included. I’d highly recommend it.

I’ll always keep on creating – it doesn’t bring me money but it brings me a bit of clarity.”