Carrie Sibbald

Let’s take 5 minutes with Carrie Sibbald, Co-Founder of Meraki Art School and Artist -Teacher

Hey Carrie, can you tell us a bit about your role and responsibilities at Meraki? 

Having been part of the Meraki team from day one I’ve been fortunate to be involved in all aspects of the development of the Art School. As you can imagine this has made for an exciting and varied role as we’ve worked to give shape and direction to Meraki. I enjoyed doing a lot of the early design work and connecting with other creatives and community organisations to bring projects and events together. So, from sourcing opportunities, to contributing to the planning and delivery of our classes, I feel very lucky to be involved at every stage. 

What is your favourite part of your role? 

There’s nothing quite like being in an art space working with young people. It’s like the room bursts into colour when everybody is together generating ideas, collaborating creatively and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.  

Tell us a bit about your experience 

Much of my experience has been centred around my involvement in community-led projects and learning support intervention. I’ve been involved in national youth work initiatives, running activities and early-help programmes for adolescents, as well as projects for adults. Many of these initiatives have focused on utilising the therapeutic nature of creativity to help people with health issues, disabilities or those who may be experiencing challenging social circumstances. Seeing the positive impact art and creativity can have has been one of the driving forces in the creation of Meraki.  

I’ve also been lucky to work in a number of educational settings, with primary aged children right through to adults studying at higher education level. All of my roles have had a focus on removing barriers to learning, fostering confidence and supporting personal development. It seems that all of my experiences are now feeding into the work I do at Meraki, it’s a fantastic feeling.  

In recent years I have enjoyed working in PR and Marketing, this role ticked many boxes for me and has allowed me to draw on my skills as a photographer, designer and digital content creator, but I’ve been on quite a varied journey over the years!

Why is art important to you? 

For me finding artistic outlets is what gives vitality to life, it’s a non-negotiable. If there’s not sufficient space and opportunity for creative people to ‘be creative’ then a large part of life loses its meaning. I have always been drawn to art, literature, theatre, music, photography etc. I soak up inspiration wherever I can find it and spend hours and hours playing with ideas and developing a visual and literary skillset to help me communicate them.  

What are your top 3 artists or designers? 

Leonardo Da Vinci

He was absurdly creative, he was inventing new ground all the time but he was also highly skilled artistically, we frequently see one or the other but when they both come as a pair the impact is phenomenal. Talk about paving the way!

Susan Derges

I love Susan’s experimental approach to traditional darkroom photography and her visual inquiry into the natural world. 

Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason’s incredible underwater sculptures take art out of white-walled museum in an epic way! His artworks are essentially artificial reefs and the way the biological marine life attaches itself to the sculptures in mottled tones is really beautiful.

What are you most looking forward to at Meraki art School and why? 

Whether our pupils at Meraki go on to be artists, designers or choose another vocation altogether I look forward to supporting them to develop a mentality that will serve them well into their futures. Through engaging in the creative process young people learn to be adaptable, innovative and divergent thinkers. All of which are going to be essential skills in our fast paced and ever-changing world. 

As a practicing artist can you give us an insight into your work? 

I have always been interested in the area where art and science meet and it seems my artwork frequently emerges from the space between the two. I specialised in darkroom photography, with a focus on camera-less and alternative techniques. I am fascinated by being able to directly manipulate light and time to construct new visual representations of reality. To me that’s just magic! 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

I’ve got so many interests, I think that comes from being endlessly curious, but there’s one thing that I can say for certain – whether I’m travelling across foreign countries, stuck with my head in a book, dreaming up my next creative endeavour or chatting with family or friends – I’m always learning. 

Can you give us an interesting/fun fact about yourself? 

I rehabilitate injured wildlife, it’s not unusual to find me in the kitchen at 4am feeding orphaned hoglets through pipettes.

Inspired by Picasso’s famous quote, ‘All children are artists’, we’re asking the team for their favourite mantra.  

Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so. 

Belva Davis
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