Crafting Relationships (formerly Beauty and Utility Arts) was founded in Summer 2011 after over a decade in the third sector working with adults and children living with mental ill health, dementia and learning disabilities. Up until that point I worked giving daily living support, as a Supported Employment Adviser and as Fundraiser for the Midlands for a national charity.
In 2005, I was stopped in the corridor by comedian Charlie Chuck who asked if I would like to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. There’s only one answer to that – ‘yes’. So, a dedicated team of 10 adults with learning disabilities and support staff worked hard to make it happen, and the end result was a seven night stint at Venue 45 – most days to a sell out audience.
On day one, there was a line of nervous singers, actors and performers behind me on Princes Street as we handed out flyers. By the last day, confidence was high, conversations with Festival visitors were flowing and there was even talk of approaching De Montfort Hall! That’s when I realised the power of Arts and Health, and everything else has grown since then.
In July 2018 I paused to think more about my work – what I loved doing, what I wanted to do less of and how I could use the skills developed over the last twenty years even better. I’m a reasonably quiet, observant and reflective character and I realised I could work those things up and use them more. That’s when I changed the name of the organisation to Crafting Relationships and started looking at the importance of values and how to embed them further in to the work we do and support others to do the same.
Associates are individuals we work with on a regular basis. We guide and inform each other at every level.
Mandeep has worked in printmaking for the past seventeen years, since training in Fine Art at De Montfort University, Leicester. She has previously worked in Museums, across varied roles including using natural history collections as a creative source of inspiration for outreach workshops. Alongside her printmaking practice, Mandeep continues to work with Arts and Heritage Organisations delivering printmaking and bookmaking workshops across the East Midlands and is a member of The Society of All Artists, Leicester Print Workshop and Harborough Artists Clusters
Chrissie Van Mierlo is an experienced university teacher, freelance editor and Museums Professional. She is the author of a range of academic articles and reviews, as well as the book James Joyce and Catholicism: The Apostate’s Wake (Bloomsbury: 2017). Chrissie is the Volunteer Project Co-ordinator for the Local History Cafes run by Crafting Relationships at Brackenfield Village, Charnwood Museum and Erewash Museum and a part of the Local History Cafe core team. She is particularly interested in projects that engage older members of the community with the Arts, literature and historical research.