If you haven’t met Karen (aka, GeetLush) yet, then you’re missing out! She is the wonderful artist who’s been hosting the Feminist Paintalongs and Crappy Craft events in our bar over the past year or so. Find out more about Karen, her work and these awesome events by reading on!
Hey Karen! Tell us a little bit about you and your work
Hi! I’m Karen, also known as GeetLush. I’m from the north east where “geet” means “very” and “lush” means “nice”, hence the name. I love painting and making things and adore meeting creative people – which is why I run workshops at the Improv Theatre to pass on my skills to like-minded people.
What’s been your favourite part of running Crappy Craft Club and Feminist Paintalong at Bristol Improv Theatre?
I love seeing what people come up with, given access to the same materials as everyone else there is always quite a spectrum of creations. Because my favourite thing to do is paint, I particularly enjoy sharing that love with the Feminist Paintalong each month. Recently someone asked for help with her painting and after I showed her how to do what she wanted, she said it was “magic” and looked so excited. It honestly made my day.
For people who haven’t come across Crappy Craft Club before – why are they called ‘Crappy’ when they’re such brilliant workshops?!
My gorgeous pal Charlotte, also known as Twin Made (she’s a twin who makes!), created Crappy Craft Club in Cardiff which is such a success that we opted to open one in Bristol too. The idea was that it’s easy peasy sessions that anyone can do. We’re not trying to stress people out with huge or intricate makes, it’s more about the enjoyment of the making if you know what I mean? So the title “crappy” is more to let people know this is very entry-level, and that it’s for adults not kids! Having said that, you don’t have to make something easy, if you can make it with the things we have in the room, in the time available, you go for it! And I’ll be on hand to help make your idea a reality.
A big concept in improv is ‘happy fail’ which celebrates making mistakes – how does this translate in the world of painting and crafts?
My sessions focus on the time spent in the room rather than the end product, it’s about enjoying the experience of making (with the bonus that you can take your creations home at the end of it), so “happy fails” are all part of the process. When the unexpected happens, we see if we can run with it or turn it into something else, but the joy of painting is that if you do make a mistake… you can always paint over it once it’s dry. It’s a very forgiving artform.
A lot of people might not have done any crafting since they were kids – why is it important for adults to come along and get creative?
The main bit of feedback I get is that it’s lovely to just take some time out and forget daily worries. Taking a break to do something creative has been proven to help lower stress levels and improve focus. I have a degree in Creative and Therapeutic Arts, so I know the benefits of adding a bit of fun into our lives! The Crappy Craft Club is a chance to make a mess and get messy yourself – something we don’t tend to allow ourselves to do as adults. Play isn’t just for kids and that’s what we are trying to tap into.
Aside from some lovely artwork, what do you think people gain from these workshops? Why should they come along?
During the Feminist Paintalong I talk a bit about the functions of various body parts and I use all the scientific names for the various bits. Most sessions someone will come up to me and say they just learned something about their body that they weren’t aware of before – that’s pretty cool to me. But my absolute favourite part of these sessions, and the best reason to come along, is that the sessions really encourage participants to feel relaxed and safe to be themselves. There is a point that comes in every paintalong where someone will share a story, or surprise at hearing just how big the clitoris is, and others start opening up too. There isn’t an expectation to talk, but just being around these open and honest conversations about shared experiences is good for the soul – it helps create a sense of connection and is really powerful to be a part of.