Sheffield entrepreneur uses photography to enhance wellbeing
Artists in the Making, a Sheffield based company run by former teacher Jordanna Farrimond, is offering photography and art workshops for children, as well as projects and clubs based on Jordanna’s passion for using creativity to enhance wellbeing.
Jordanna, 30, decided she wanted do something more creative after five years of teaching primary school. She said she became frustrated with the extra admin and paperwork, which she felt got in the way of teaching.
“Although I like hanging out with kids, I found teaching in schools to be very formal and structured and heavily paperwork based. A lot of it seems very unnecessary to me and I find it very draining doing things that I think are unnecessary.
“I want to be productive and I don’t want to mess around anymore. As a teacher I saw all my days and nights, weekends, evenings, holidays, relationships, everything was eaten up by masses of work for very little actual impact. The kids definitely learnt but for what you put in they could learn in a couple of hours what is a weeks work. It just feels like a very muffled way of doing things.
“I wanted to do something creative because I am a creative person and I was exploding not being able to do something creative. I wanted it to be useful, to have an impact on other people, whether they just enjoy it or whether it actually increases their wellbeing and their pride and self-confidence. I know creative activity has that effect on people.”
Sheffield’s community spirit
Originally from Devon, Jordanna came to Sheffield to study philosophy and has stayed in the city ever since.
“I am from Lancashire originally but we moved down to Devon when I was eight, I came to Sheffield as an eighteen year old and I am now thirty. Sheffield is a really nice place to live because there is a real community spirit where people are keen to talk to one another; it isn’t like that in Devon. It’s a lot more down to earth up North and when you live in a city for a long time, you start to really notice what is going on in the city and you become part of it.”
After she gave up her job at Hunters Bar Primary School two years ago, Jordanna began an adult learning photography course with the WEA, which she is still attending. She said photography is something she has always been interested in, but she wanted to learn about it formally. Whilst she was doing her photography course, Jordanna continued to do a bit of supply teaching until she came up with the idea for Artists in the Making.
“The supply teaching brought in a bit of money whilst I was pondering life, it was also quite nice just to focus on teaching and not the other stuff, I actually quite enjoy it. But I thought there was no point in giving up teaching to become a supply teacher and what I really wanted to do was something creative. So I combined my teaching and photography and emailed everyone I could think of.”
Artists in the Making was born in May 2012 when Jordanna held her first art and photography workshop at the Broomhall Centre afterschool club. The session was about travelling through a portal into another world where the children created other worlds using boxes.
“It was fun, but it was also quite nerve-racking because, although it was the same as teaching really, it was different because you go in and obviously you have called yourself something before you are doing it and then suddenly you have to do it.
“Sometimes I feel like that person and sometimes I feel like I am doing something new every time I do it and I have no idea what I am doing, but that is what being a teacher is like everyday, so compared to that it is easier.”
Making creativity useful
Jordanna says that since then her photography has improved and her focus has become more directed.
“I used to just take snapshots but now when I take a photograph where I think about everything that is going into it. Every time you take a photograph you are thinking about how to improve it, but that is the way our course is structured, it is about being critical and thinking about how you would do it differently or whether you really want it just like that.”
During her first six months of her photography course Jordanna volunteered for Sage Green Fingers, a mental health and therapeutic gardening project.
“I was just going along and gardening and hanging out and supporting them, but I felt that there was a big contrast between doing something where I really felt my time was useful and that time at school where I put so much energy into something and it didn’t have much of an affect. This helped me to decide in what way I could be more useful.
“So the way I see my work going is towards the wellbeing side of things. I ran a one-day photography course with a few people from Sage Green Fingers and I organised an exhibition of their photographs. This felt like a really productive way of using creativity.
“Some of the guys at the allotment project went to the photo exhibition and said things like “I can’t believe I took that photo” and “Do you know a photography course I can start.” So they are making little steps towards taking control of their lives and choosing to do things.
“And I have been in touch with one of them who is selling all of the old photography equipment that has been in his cupboard forever and he is now going into digital photography, all this from one day of photography. So that is really exciting and that is what I’d like to do, that is the way I would like it to work.
“I am also in the process of developing an idea to run a free art and photography club for older, socially isolated people in the local area. I think that a creative club would really bring people together and enhance wellbeing.”
Looking for volunteers and participants
Jordanna said that she also wants to combine her desire to use creativity to enhance wellbeing with her experience in teaching children.
“I know what kids like and it is nice to do creative stuff with kids because I don’t necessarily get the chance to do it with the kids at school. I know children and I know how to make it work for them. I was thinking about taking photography into schools and working with behavioural issues. I think it gives children self-confidence and children act completely differently when they are given responsibility. If they have a feeling that they are good at something their behaviour completely changes.”
This summer, Artists in the Making is running it’s second art and photography holiday club for children aged 8-14 years. Jordanna said she has refined what she did last year to use the elements that work best. She holds the workshops with small groups of children in a very relaxed atmosphere, she uses activities where the children can become involved in what they are doing and accidentally learn photography and art skills in the process. Jordanna said she always gives the children a choice and that for her it is about finding activities that are easily high quality, so the children can make something that is really good but not out of their reach.
Jordanna is also running a personal portrait project based in her local area of Heeley and Meersbrook. She is looking for volunteers of any age who would like to have their portrait taken. Jordanna said that volunteers can keep the digital image and that she hopes to combine the portraits and exhibit the project in the future.
“I am proud of Heeley and Meersbrook and its interesting, diverse identity. I think that you can learn a lot about an area from the faces in it. My youngest model so far was thirteen days old and now I’m looking for the oldest.”
You can find out more about Artist in the Making holiday clubs and Jordanna’s personal projects at: http://artistsinthemaking.co.uk