Centrepieces Sculpture Workshop Report



The sculpture workshops at Hall Place, which began in the summer, have successfully combined creativity and mental well being.

Christie Cassisa (left) with this summer's sculpture group.
(Image: Dawn Tomlin)

Running over the summer and planned to carry on into the winter, the sculpture workshops run by Christie Cassisa, funded by an award from the William Kendall Charity, encourage people with mental health issues to express themselves – and hopefully heal – using materials as varied as plastic, buttons and breeze blocks. It must be working, because since the classes began, some people have been so inspired they’ve started bringing along their own materials to work with.

This is because of Christie’s refreshing attitude of “enjoying the materials” and “being the child you weren’t allowed to be.” Beginning in the summer on Fridays, in the pleasant, sunny atmosphere of the courtyard at Centrepiece’s lodge in Hall Place, from the first week the classes had a full complement of students. The space may only allow for seven, but the limited numbers mean that all the attendees have the benefit of Christie’s proactive and enthusiastic one-to-one tutoring.

(Image: Dawn Tomlin)
She’s interested in people and their histories and, in her humorous, gently persuasive way, suggests the best way for them to interact with their work. One student had battled to leave his house for more than half an hour, but after coming to the sculpture workshop, was able to get the better of his agoraphobia and be out of the house for more than three hours at a time every Friday.  

Christie’s inclusive approach has gradually spread to the whole group. To begin with, people were quiet and confined themselves to their work, but as the workshops went on, students began making suggestions on how to help each other, swapped ideas and chatted about their projects. The classes now have a relaxed, collaborative atmosphere, and even if at times some attendees don’t feel confident enough to work, they can sit and benefit from the ambience.

Testimonials about Christie’s tutoring have been universally positive, commending a “good teaching style related to individuals’ needs, both emotionally and creatively” (Dawn Tomlin); “learning a lot and enjoying it a lot” (John Exell), as well as the joy of “exploring different mediums and finding I have a bit of imagination after all” (Rosemary Symons).

(Image: Dawn Tomlin)
Plans to expand on the success of the workshops include tackling a different subject every week and drawing classes in the grounds of Hall Place. For now, though, the sculpture works will be recommencing in mid-September. It doesn’t matter if your interests are dragons, masks, Chaos Theory or circles, or your preferred materials are nails, electric drills or clay; Centrepieces will help you get the best out of them and, in turn, get the best out of yourself.

Robert Fairclough

For more information, contact Christie Cassisa @ christiecassisa@gmail.com

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