Brighton artist Louise Dennis is a former therapist who recently decided to live her dream and take her creativity to a new direction and concentrate on her art. With an upcoming exhibition with Fabula collective we decided to have a little chat with Louise about her work.
What is your story Louise? I studied fine art first, then art therapy. My first job, post qualifying as a therapist, was on a children’s ward in London where my aim was to reduce stress for children in hospital. Alongside this job and for many years after it (I still get the occasional commission) I painted specialist murals in children’s treatment areas in London and Cornish hospitals.
After that I worked for social services, and in private practice as a therapist, until 2012. During this time I had my two children. Then I decided that I wanted to re-train and take my creativity in a new direction. I completed a masters Sequential Design/Illustration at The University of Brighton. This was a great opportunity to enjoy learning again and a good time for reflection.
After the course I was inspired to set up Fabula collective with others on the course. We’re all very different artists but what unites us is the desire to tell stories. I have exhibited regularly with Fabula since we started in October 2014.
Currently I am developing and running workshops for children. These are after school clubs at the moment but I am also planning others that may connect to the curriculum and be suitable for during the school day.
What inspired you to do what you do? Lots of reasons: I enjoy making and the feeling of being immersed in something with a creative problem to solve. I aim to make work that has a certain feeling or look to it that appeals to me and that I hope will appeal to others because ultimately my aim is to connect with other people through my work. I have an interest in enabling others to be creative and currently I am focussing on this in my workshops for children.
I feel strongly that creativity can enable resilient factors and it is such a positive tool for life that everyone should have the chance to nurture. The initial idea for my MA project – a book about a child who overcomes her fear of the dark – came from the idea that creativity and imagination can create new possibilities and change.
Why cardboard? I love the fact that cardboard (and paper) is so readily available, so ordinary and very familiar to children. I use recycled materials and can get quite excited by finding some interesting packing material or perfect piece of card! Using cardboard allows me to make atmospheric scenes that contain lots of detail that may not be noticed immediately and through playing with scale the viewer may not at first realise that they’re looking at an image made from cardboard.
I enjoy the creative challenge of working with this material – my work space is full of trees, animals, characters, shoes, cakes, furniture, staircases, wallpaper, duvets and houses – all made for past projects out of cardboard and paper.
Do you create for a certain type of customer in mind? This would all depend on the brief. For example, I have made a picture book and an animation that was aimed at primary school age children and their parents/carers. I have made three dimensional pieces and carved books that appeal to adults and have been sold through an art gallery.
My recent work, inspired by fairy tales, can be enjoyed by all ages. I have exhibited the sets that I used in the making of my animation and while these are aimed at children, adults also enjoy them. Some of my images have been used on greeting cards that have sold well in an art gallery.
Where can people approach your work? My website with contact information is www.louisedennisillustration.co.uk. I also frequently exhibit around Brighton and Hove. The next time I will be exhibiting is with Fabula Collective at Hove Museum in December.