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New art – wild swimming and skinny dipping!

For Christmas I commissioned a brilliant artist Philippa Walter to make a print of Timm and I. I found her work on Instagram and fell in love with her lino prints. We discovered a love of wild swimming last year and though we haven’t actually been skinny dipping yet, we might do in the future!!

I really wanted something that showed my ostomy bag and scars so sent her photos of my tummy and our faces, though I didn’t send any nudey pics of us so the rest is artist’s interpretation!!

lino print of a man and woman skinny dipping and wild swimming in the night time
Photo via Philippa Walter Art on instagram

I absolutely love the result, it is so personal and beautifully done. Philippa was a joy to work with, she really listened to what I wanted and her work is just wonderful!

lino print of a man and woman skinny dipping and wild swimming in the night time hung on a wall

Timm loved the gift and it is now hanging in our bedroom. I can’t recommend Philippa enough, so please do head over to her instagram philippawalterart and check out her fabulous work!

Peace and love

Sam xx

I have big news!

As you all know, I have had a tough time with my health for the past seven years. There’s been 9 surgeries, so many months in hospital, even more months of recovery at home. I dread to think how many strong painkillers I have taken over the past few years! My health has been so difficult. The main thing that has got me through this time is creativity.

Whether that is in the form of this blog, writing for other people or making art, I have learnt how important art is to humans.

Sam Cleasby opening a charity shop in Sheffield

I have had really difficult times in my physical health and as a consequence a bad time with my mental health. PTSD from the surgeries has caused anxiety, panic attacks and depression. What helped me through has been a combination of medication, talking therapies and art.

It is hard to be positive sometimes with a chronic illness. It is hard to plan for the future when your future feels so uncertain, when you don’t know if you will be having more surgery or just be too ill to get out of bed. When you are in pain every single day, it is hard to think about changing your life past just stopping the pain. I have had at least one major operation every year for the past seven years. So I struggle to think too much about the future.

But this isn’t making me happy. And so I started to think about what I want from life. What sort of job do I want to do in the future? I know the most important thing to me is to do a job that helps people and makes a difference.

I have done lots of different jobs in my life, mainly within the arts and helping people. And so I started to think about how I could put these things together. I truly believe that art heals the soul. It is a phenomenal tool to learn about yourself, to get through tough times, as a therapy to figure out your life. And I started to look into Art Therapy.

I looked at how to become an Art Therapist and saw that it was a Masters Degree after a Bachelor’s Degree. Almost immediately I threw this idea out of the window and started to look at other things I would like to do. I didn’t feel good enough to go to University. I never believed that someone like me could go to University.

When I sat my GCSE’s and from the age of 14 to 18, I was homeless. Not in the sense that I was sleeping on the streets, but I had no firm home. I stayed with my sisters, my aunt, on friends sofas, in random flats where a friend of a friend had space. I lived in so many places, I got a tiny, terrifying council flat just after my 16th birthday, I lived in a student flat and just all over! It was a really hard time, I felt so unsettled, so lost. I managed to get some good grades at GCSE and started my A-levels. But when you are trying to study in a flat where there are drug users, when you have no money, when you are worrying about where you will sleep, it is hard to give a shit about lessons.

I ended up leaving college, and then tried again the following year. But life was so chaotic. I had never felt more alone, more useless, more unloved. And honestly, I lost all belief in myself and I quit again. And so the thought of going to University always felt a million miles away from my life.

But my life is very different now. I have a home, a husband, a family. Though I struggle with my health, I have a great life. I have so many amazing friends and the most brilliant support system. So I thought, wellllll why not give it a try?

I decided to apply for a Fine Art degree, wholeheartedly believing I would be turned down, but at least I would have tried, right?

After months of creating a portfolio, of writing personal statements, interviews, open days and a lot of self doubt, I got an email today. I have been accepted onto the BA Honours in Fine Art starting in September!!!!

ME!!! Sam Cleasby. I am going to be a student!!! The plan is that in 3 years, I will have an Art degree and in 5 years I will have a masters in Art Therapy. I can’t believe it. I am terrified if I am honest!!! I am 39 and about to start University.

I don’t know what the future holds with my health. I’m not sure if this is the wisest of moves, but I am ready to try. After my surgery in February and the complications afterwards, I could have died. I could not be here right now, but I am. And so I owe it to myself to make the most of every single second.

I had a dream of making something of myself. Of studying and learning, of getting a degree and a masters and then having a dream job of being able to help others through creativity. I could have laughed it off, or thought I was too old and it was silly, I could have not bothered trying but I did and here I am.

I am at the start of a whole new part of my life, and you know what? I can’t wait!!!

Peace and love,

Sam xx

A Light to Guide

I have worked with arts collective Responsible Fishing UK for the past eight years or so. It is made up of myself, my husband photographer Timm Cleasby, and our best friends; artist James Brunt and Graphic Designer Caroline Hayes. We have done work all over the UK and one of the projects I played a bigger part in was A Light To Guide, a story told through light tubes hung in a forest for Coastival in Scarborough.

I wrote the story of Johan, a little spider who goes on a journey through his home town of Scarborough and then the words were carved into cardboard tubes and lit from inside. We hung them in the woods so the story could be read as you walked through. You can watch the video here.

I have always loved creating art, whether that is through writing, textiles, ceramics, painting or any of the amazing projects I have been involved in with RF. Over the past year, this creativity has been a life saver. It has been my therapy, my escape and my joy. I have loved making more and more art projects but I have always felt a little shy in sharing them.

I want to change that. I want to recognise myself and know that it is OK to feel pride in the things I create. And so I thought I would start with the beautiful Light to Guide that I am so proud of. Hopefully, this will encourage me to share more.

Peace and love

Sam xx

Body painting

Last year I got one of those odd phonecalls, they are always the best ones, asking if I would like to have my body painted for BBC Radio Sheffield. And of course I said yes!

It was a party for the Naked Podcast and after I appeared as their guest, I was painted live during the show by the brilliant Julia from Julia Arts Body Painting.

We decided on an Egyptian theme around the scarab beetle. The Scarab is also known as the Dung beetle so it seemed fitting but they also symbolized the restoration of life and we thought that was a nice touch after so much illness and surgeries for me.

body painting sheffield

body paint sheffield ileostomybody paint sheffield woman positivity ileostomy

Julia was great and gave me plenty of rest breaks and kept asking if I was ok, she put me completely at ease which wasn’t easy being half naked in a room full of people whilst having someone paint your boobs!

I waited till it was finished to see the final artwork and I was blown away.  It was an odd feeling but I felt so empowered, I felt like a queen! I got quite emotional to see my body that I am so used to seeing scarred, sore and broken to be displayed as this beautiful, living, moving, celebration of who I am!

It was such a positive experience and I can’t thank Julia, Kat, Jen and Paulette enough for giving me such a wonderful feeling of power and celebration.

Sam x

Stoma Art

I found this artwork called ‘The Lovers’ – its the first stoma art I have seen and I love it!

stoma art

 

 

I can’t find who it is by though, so if this is yours then please let me know and Ill add a credit.

 

Love Sam x