I love the sense of being a true Londoner walking to Core Arts each morning. There’s an undertone of camaraderie amongst everyone in raincoats with sleepy eyes.
Everyday I arrive to work at a building that used to be a school building. It looks like a brick church on the outside, worn down by time and life. Now it houses offices, art studios, and music studios. Art lies in every nook and cranny. Core Arts exhibit, which hung in the British Museum for a month, now hangs along the walls as you enter, leading you into the open hall. Prints and paintings line every available space at each desk and ceramic pieces eclectically clutter the shelves. There’s a jar that constantly has tea bags and a table in the lobby where people always leave biscuits. They have over 80 classes a week in art, sports, and music. Each week I’m in a few sport classes, a few music sessions, and a few art classes. Then I am also in the office sporadically in between.
Overall the environment is casual and everyone is so kind. They pride themselves on being a safe place that is de-stigmatized and safe for vulnerable people. Here, they can be a part of community, not have to talk about their struggles, and just focus on their art. My job is essentially to learn how they run this company, and help them how I can. Sometimes it seems like my job is to talk to people and make art with them. It’s pretty amazing.
My goals in this internship are to learn the logistics of a company like this, grow as an artist, and as a person. With the internship coming to a close, I think I have accomplished all of those things. I have a much better understanding of how the NHS works and what someone needs to do to become a member. I also learned about the variations in memberships based on funding streams and health status. Having to focus on the process of making art as an art in itself, and the art a result of the process, has really made me a better artist. Not thinking about what you’re doing actually helps what you’re subconsciously turning over in your head come across in your art. I was able to experience new art forms and hear plenty of different perspectives on art, the weather, politics, and life. I was never bored at Core and was always learning something new.
It was challenging to be thrown into a working environment in a completely new country, when I had never even had a proper job. It was intimidating and a little overwhelming to begin with. However, it was well worth it. Being pushed out of my comfort zone made me grow. It has definitely made me more interested in pursuing a graduate degree in art therapy.
I’m thankful I got to be a part of something that has helped and is helping so many people. This charity has been open for over 20 years. A few years ago, they had a third party track the progress of their members, all of whom had been in and out of the hospital, and ninety-seven percent of the members being observed weren’t readmitted to the hospital after finishing at Core. I love the power that simply expressing yourself in your art can do, and I have loved seeing that in action this summer.