Personal Stories


Personal Stories

Elesha’s Story

What is it like to feel unwell or well? I understand both of these states of being and I especially know what it’s like to feel unwell and what I call ‘not normal’. I live with the symptoms of ME and Fibromyalgia, so no two days are the same. I used to be a Park Ranger and Community worker but now I am an artist. I didn’t think I was an artist, but my relationship with the Art House has created a new mindset where I can explore my thoughts about identity, wellness and where aspirations can lead.
My home is England but at one point in my life I wanted a change and I set out for Spain. I gave up everything and moved away. 6 months in, things changed, my father was very ill and the dream ended. I returned to England, to South Yorkshire, to Sheffield. A big change. Life was very difficult and I was filled with anxiety and depression. I have felt these things before, but thought they had gone, but that was not the case.

I believe that I would have come out of this somehow, but I was asked to join an art group ‘Creative Artists’ run by Ali Kitley-Jones and one of the first images I was encouraged to paint was a mandala. Ali asked me to put it up on the wall for display and I was so proud of myself. I had not felt this feeling for sometime but that sense of delight, happiness and self-respect has remained with me.

Making art makes me feel free, calm and alive.
One thing led on to another and week after week of making art and being part of a supportive and positive group led me to volunteer and co-support the creative artists group now. I love helping others, being part of a cycle of making change and being an inspiration. My future progression is to run art workshops and continue exhibiting and selling my work… I still have anxiety and ups and downs but it is less severe now. I have a routine and structure to my week. I feel like a normal human being again. Rather than saying what I used to be and feeling useless, which is how depression makes you feel, I am an Artist now. I have a purpose and feel useful and want to inspire people to give art a go, you never know where it will lead.

My daily Motto: Give it a go!
My proudest moment: selling my first painting & riding 258 miles on a bike and raising £800 for St Lukes Hospice in 2008.

An impression of the Arthouse: Friendly place, lovely and smiley people in the café, welcoming, amazing art and pottery on show
Preferred Media: Acrylic: because if you make a mistake you can go over it and it isn’t ruined
Aspiration: exhibit somewhere big * Manchester or London.

Ben’s Story

My aspiration growing up was to become a joiner, so when I left school I went to college and successfully completed 3 years of training. My time there was not easy – I found college life stressful and I found myself feeling overwhelmed.

I went to my GP for help, but not long after finishing college my mental health deteriorated and I ended up in hospital. As part of the Occupational Therapy programme I began attending one to one pottery and shortly after my discharge I joined Inspired Potters wellbeing group at the Art House.

Since then I have learned hand building, glazing, creating birdhouses, plant boxes, storage jars, and animals. The Art House has helped me regain my confidence and I have now progressed into volunteering too.

Every Tuesday afternoon you will find me in the main studio working on a tile project for the café courtyard. It requires organisation and dedication to work slowly towards completing an entire wall but I have enjoyed it and found that I have a flair for creating beautiful tiles.   I also attend Saturday wheel throwing classes. Up to now I have 26 pots with more on the way.

I would describe the Art House as a big friendly community. It takes you on a journey of learning new skills, building friendships, opening up opportunities, whilst filling your appetite with food and drinks served by lovely, welcoming staff. You always leave wanting to return for more.

“The Art House has helped me regain my confidence.”

Kieron’s Story

I sometimes wish I didn’t have to rely on creative projects to feel mentally stable but it works. I can’t imagine life without art.

For around 15 years my projects revolved solely around photography, but for the past few years I have had my fingers in lots of different creative pies, from abstract paintings and digital art, to pottery and singing in the chorus of a play called Painters of Light and Shadow in December 2019

During the past few years the Art House has been a central factor in all of my projects. Although much of the art I produce is distinctly different from other people’s work, the surroundings of the Art House and the people I meet and have been highly influential in the evolution of the projects I develop. I have attended Creative Artists wellbeing art group, and the Stepping Stone course which challenges your notions of ‘how to create’. I also volunteer on a regular basis.

If asked, what does my work mean to me?  It never disappoints me, it never lets me down.  When I am doing this (painting) the darkness is never there, everything disappears. Nothing exists apart from this. I will often create in the morning or early daytime because it gives me a sense of peace and contentment for the rest of the day, even though I also find it emotionally depleting and exhausting. I love creating and it is an obsession. It takes the place of drugs and alcohol. Nowadays, I prefer touching paints and clay. Using my hands in a creative way.  It’s a pleasant experience and it provides a release.

My aspiration is to offer outreach art making to homeless people. I would like to be able to provide people on the street with art materials and some guidance to experience the contentment and relief that making art can bring.

Dan’s Story

I am a sculptor and pre-1988 I used to work in an artistic workshop in Santiago, Chile. We were very political and made banners and flags against the government and eventually the police began to show up.  We were very vulnerable and increasingly things turned worse. People were tortured and began to disappear and one day my close friend was found dead. I have never lived anywhere other than Chile but I needed to leave to save my life.  I ended up in Sheffield, applied for asylum and have lived here ever since. I became very depressed and spent 8-10 years thinking, alone. I needed a cure.  I needed to be around people.

I was encouraged by a support worker to attend a wellbeing pottery class. It took a long time but I joined Creative Potters in Sharrow.  When the class finished I followed them to a new pottery called the Art House. They were just opening up and they had a focus of working with art and mental health.  I helped set up the pottery and use the skills I had from the past to become a volunteer and help others explore the use of clay to feel better. It helped me to connect and feel more human.  I found that when I was free from harm, my own ceramics found its voice again and became more sculptural/political. ‘Making’ gave me hope.

These days I am making more now than ever and have created sculptures in the River Don.

I go down to the river and get in. Literally, get in the water. Going in the water makes me feel different and relaxed.  I assemble free standing sculptures out of the bricks and the remnants that have been dumped there over many years. I return again and again building tall monolithic forms, balancing the weight of one with another. To find out more Google Sheffield River Don Banksy’s sculptures…

Sophie’s Story

I’ve always loved art as long as I can remember. Even when I became ill and my schooling was interrupted I could always fall back on art.  It became my safety net.  When my physical and mental health meant I couldn’t attend school, art was the only A-level I could continue to study; mostly at home with tremendous support from my school.

I love learning and I am very detail-oriented, which is both my weakness and my strength. Too often this can manifest itself in an overwhelming sense of pressure and a need for perfection. Maintaining the balance between getting happily lost in applying patterns and becoming trapped and fatigued from not being able to stop until it’s perfect is tricky

I found the Art House by accident at the end of 2015 after I became hooked on BBC2’s Great Pottery Throw Down. I tentatively googled ‘pottery classes in Sheffield’ with very little intention of actually being brave enough to go to one. The first click was the Art House website’s description for Creative Potters; a class for adults living with mental health needs. I read the description aloud and my mum said “That sounds like it’s been written about you Sophie, you should go!” It took two months of mum’s encouragement, my dithering, a terrifying email and phone call, before I was sat in my first class. I’ve been coming ever since.

My participation in the Art House Stepping Stone group also helps me to focus on the concept of flow and being present in the moment. In this class we are not encouraged to do things to perfection and I personally find some of the exercises/warm-ups are designed to make perfection impossible to achieve. This has helped me massively and continues to challenge me.

Being a part of the classes validates my creativity in a ‘proper art space’, and talking through my ideas and sketchbooks with tutors makes my drawings feel more than just doodles. Working with clay has opened up a new 3D element to my art and gave me the opportunity to develop a project around my Grandma who passed away in 2015. I was able to explore memories of my childhood that I really value without becoming overwhelmed by loss and the hollow ache that exists with grief.