18-20 Burners Lane, Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes, MK11 3HB info@artsgatewaymk.org.uk 01908 635 903

In conversation with… Vicky Sargent

We talk Vicky Sargent, multi-media artist, art teacher and Creative Director of Art for Wellbeing MK, in the latest of our ‘In conversation…’ interviews.

What medium do you work in?

I work in mixed media, so anything from traditional painting and drawing to sculpture; I tend to dabble in lots of different materials to make interesting combinations. At the moment, I’m working a lot with Powertex, a fabric sculpting medium which can be used for sculpture and decorative applications.

How did you get into art?

I’ve always been creative, I have a BA hons from the University of Hertfordshire. I believe you constantly learn, grow and develop as an artist and, the more you let yourself explore possibilities and try new things, the more your creativity flows. You never stop learning and, as a teaching artist, I love nothing more than teaching others about art and encouraging them to unlock the artist within.

How would you describe your style?

A lot of my current sculptural work is decorative and expressive. I enjoy the 3D form and playing with texture and layering to give interesting effects. I also like to explore realism as well as surrealism in mixed media art journaling. I tend to dip in and out of various art forms and love using and experimenting with abstraction and pattern.

Powertex sculpture

What inspires you to produce art?

I am inspired by various things, I take a lot of inspiration from nature, mythology, visiting places of historical interest and looking at other artists’ painting, sculpture and textiles. In my teaching I love planning art classes that promote and encourage expressive art. When I see students learn a new technique and respond to a brief in different ways and gain confidence, it inspires me to continue to create.

Who is your favourite artist?

I have always admired Andy Goldsworthy for his impermanent land-based art works, Antony Gormley for his figurative work. I also love the surrealists such as Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo for her colourful, culturally influenced work and her ability to create art during her life of trauma and chronic pain.

You have done a lot of work in the voluntary sector. What do you like about it and what has it taught you?

Volunteering and working in the community have taught me so much about how diverse we all are and the different challenges we all have. Getting involved in the local community with art and creativity has such a positive impact on people. I love meeting people from various different backgrounds and learning from them too.

My work includes workshops within the mental health and social care sector. I love finding ways that people can access art and creativity no matter what their skill set or ability/disability is. Art has long been proven to help with mental health and I have been lucky enough to be involved with the Smile:) MK programme run by CLMK which offers free courses, including art, to people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.  I also teach an art group at Headway MK to people who have acquired brain injury which can be challenging but at the same time very rewarding.

How did you come to start Art for Wellbeing MK?

Art for Wellbeing MK started because I wanted to promote the benefit of art to people from all walks of life whether they think they are ‘good at art’ or not.

People can gain so much from art-making, but, at the same time, it can be stressful for people who think they have no talent or put too much pressure on themselves to achieve perfection.

A lot of people like the idea of creativity but are often put off by poor experiences at school, people telling them they are no good, fear of failure or they don’t think they are good enough to join an art class. I help them rediscover the benefits of creativity and the wellbeing aspect by sharing my love of creativity and its benefit to people who are struggling and need some time for themselves to relax, grow and take pride in their creations.

What sort of wellbeing benefits have you seen coming from art – for yourself and others?

I get great satisfaction from seeing people grow in confidence and let go of some of their insecurities. My community groups are often a lifeline to people who perhaps never leave the house during the week due to depression, anxiety and/or other health issues. Peer support is also very valuable as they are able to make friends and connections with people in similar situations. I also encourage people to join my Page and FB group so they can continue with supporting and encouraging each other. Some regularly meet for coffee or have started their own craft groups as a result of coming to my free community classes.

Powertex fairy

Why did you decide to become a resident at Arts Central?

I volunteered when Art Central first started in Station House and I love the idea of being part of a creative hub and networking with other creatives. I also was in desperate need of a designated space to create, as I was running out of room at home so now was the right time for me to take up residence.

If you were going to treat yourself to artist materials – money no object – what would you buy?

Oh my gosh where to start!  I love collecting art materials and supplies because I dabble in so many different creative areas. When I discover something new, I tend to want all the associated tools and materials that go with it.  I recently discovered inexpensive Microwave kilns where you can melt glass to create interesting, fused glass pieces. So, I would love a proper glass kiln to play with, that would be one of the many things on my wish list.


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