Prism Arts: meeting Rosie and John

As it’s nearly Christmas, we’ve got another blog post for you this week! It’s written by Katie Hale, Prism Arts’ Creative Programme Administrator, focusing on her experience of supporting artists in Cumbria to create galleries on the Outside In website earlier this year.

Following on from some training on how to use the Outside In website from the Outside In team, I was asked to support some artists living in and around Cumbria to create profiles on the project’s website. In September and October 2015, I supported a number of artists to do this, and helped them to submit their work to the ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making’ exhibition. These were a combination of artists I had never met before, and those already involved in some of Prism Arts’ other projects.

Rosie and John were two of these artists:


Rosie has been working with Prism Arts for almost four years, through our Studio Theatre programme in Carlisle, where she has developed her skills as a maker and textile artist by helping to create many of the props and costumes for Studio Theatre’s performances.

Rosie - The Ladies

Rosie, The Ladies

Rosie has a particular flair for working with textiles. Most of her work to date has been an exploration of colour and texture, through the medium of fabric collage. However, she has recently started to introduce stitch-work into her collages. She works freehand, rather than to a planned drawn design, but through this process, she remains very clear as to where her ideas are taking her.

Supported through the visual art strand of Prism Arts Studio Theatre, she has also started to experiment with weaving, initially using a peg loom. We are encouraging her to experiment with using a table-top loom, which could potentially create a whole different dimension for Rosie.

Rosie - Untitled

Rosie, Untitled

As well as developing her textile skills, she also works alongside Studio Theatre’s performance company, where she has a particular strength in developing the narrative line of the performance work, and engaging with shadow puppetry: an integral part of our live performance.

Rosie recently learned that her work has been selected to appear digitally as part of the ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making’ exhibition. She is also working with others to create a body of work that will be part of Prism Arts’ C-Art exhibition in September 2016.

Click here to visit Rosie’s Outside In gallery


John is a young man on the autistic spectrum at Prism Arts’ Studio Theatre West Cumbria programme. He has an exceptional talent for drawing and making, and for history. He first worked with us on a project exploring Georgian history and popular entertainment. He showed a particular interest in using history as a springboard to create wonderful puppets and to perform with them.

John Lake - Big Curling Dragon

John, Big Curling Dragon

As his confidence grew, he joined our Summer School, researching the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. He was particularly inspired by visits to Carlisle Castle, Cumbria Museum of Military Life, and Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery.

John worked with our drama practitioner to devise a performance piece for Carlisle Pageant, where he played the part of the Duke of Cumberland to an audience of around 5000 people.

His mum reported that, at home, he talks about Prism Arts all the time, and absolutely loves it; it’s not just the arts, but also that he is able to feed his passion for history and to increase his confidence at performing in front of large crowds.

John Lake - Wyvern

John, Wyvern

Having observed and encouraged his talent for drawing, we suggested that he upload his work to Outside In. While talking about his work, he explained how he is interested not just in history, but also in fable. This is something that often comes across in his work, through exploration of mythological creatures alongside historical characters.

John continues to work with us on our Studio Theatre West programme. He is a principle member of the team which is currently researching a project about the Vikings and their cultural impact on Cumbria. John is conducting his own research in advance of the project, and is also mentoring mainstream primary school children, teaching them skills of drawing and making.

John Lake - Ragnor

John, Ragnor

This is a huge achievement for John: a young man on the autistic spectrum, whose passionate imagination, inspired by his historical interests, is currently challenging the stereotypes associated with this particular condition.

Click here to visit John’s Outside In gallery

Prism Arts is an arts organisation based in Carlisle, where they run courses that specialise in participatory and inclusive arts. All their work is delivered by professional artists from across the region. Click here to visit the Prism Arts website.

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