With a background in nursing and mental health disabilities, Pauline Stanley is using her Fine Art degree to make a difference in the local community.

Having attended a life drawing class regularly whilst working as a nurse, Pauline decided to study for a Foundation degree at AUB, which she passed with Distinction. She went on to study BA (Hons) Fine Art part time, graduating in 2009.

Pauline shared her story with us:

“After I graduated, I started out freelancing for community art projects, but lack of funding became a real issue. The work started to dry up and I was very conscious that I needed to take control. I applied to the Arts Council for a grant of £10,000, which allowed me set up Artisan Community Art Studio, which is dedicated to providing art classes for the community.

“That was two years ago now and the Studio no longer relies on funding, it is a unique sustainable working model because the weekend public art, craft and textile courses financially support the weekday mixed ability art groups.

“We teach art classes during the week for a range of people – from those living with mental health problems, to those with learning disabilities, Asperger’s, physical disabilities and chronic fatigue syndrome. The weekends are very busy with a huge range of art courses, taught by over 30 artists, many of whom are gradates from AUB.

“The work I’m doing uses all the experience I have – from my nursing experience, to my Fine Art degree. It’s very satisfying; I get lovely letters from students, telling me what a difference the classes are making to their lives.

“I’m lucky I don’t get that ‘Monday morning’ feeling. I’m in the studio painting and chatting, we’ve got Radio Six music on in the background, and it’s so relaxed. I work long hours, but it’s a real pleasure.

“Painting is a safe medium for my Aspergers students, it’s non-threatening and engaging. The don’t have to talk, they can sit in comfortable silence if they like. 

“By its nature, art is therapeutic and it’s nourishing.

“We recently achieved not-for-profit status at the Studio, which I was so pleased about. We can now accept the financial donations from local businesses . We would like to buy a printing press.

“We have close links with Bournemouth Libraries, Pavillion Dance, Arts by the Sea Festival, Bournemouth Police,  Bournemouth University and AUB second year Fine Art students can come and do work experience with us.”

Pauline was recently featured in Blackmore Vale Magazine for her work with stroke patients.

ONE Piece of advice

“Firstly, I think all creatives should do a Foundation degree, because it gives you the chance to play. You can try everything and really unleash your creativity.

I would advise students to network really hard and always do more than you are asked. That and be polite and pleasant to everyone, as that’s the way you build lasting relationships.”

For more information about Pauline’s classes, visit the Artisan website or call 07729 829209.