“I’m not that creative,” says Olive Cole, 89, as she carefully chooses a scrap of tile and places it on a cardboard template.
A tendency to talk down our creative side and not give it much time to grow is fairly standard, according to Gypsy Soul Studio proprietors, Kay and Rob Bowerman, who run their business from their Black Range home and studio near Bega.
The couple, looking to diversify from Rob’s full-time work in the trades, opened Gypsy Soul Studio earlier this year. The business focus’ on helping people get in touch with their creativity and they offer all kinds of art and craft workshops, as well as teaching massage.
“I’m a qualified builder, tiler, pest controller – but my back’s shot, so we came up with the idea for Gypsy Soul Studio,” Rob says, looking very much at home in his new role, handing out tile cutters and assigning tasks to the participants at today’s Meals On Wheels workshop.
Sourcing material for mosaic projects is no problem, Rob has boxes of tile scraps left over from tiling jobs over the years.
“I love this part of it, it’s good to be interacting with everyone and then at the end, you see this amazing thing that they’ve created together,” he says enthusiastically.
Kay’s interest is in art therapy and assisting people to relax and take time out.
“People often start out tense and anxious, wanting to get it right,” she says “we have a few little things we do to help the brain flick into the creative side and by the end of the session, I ask people what they’ve been thinking about. The answer I hear most is a surprised – nothing!”
Putting together a mosaic is just like a puzzle with colours but no pictures, Kay explains, and many people find it very soothing.
When she heard about Gypsy Soul Studio, Meals on Wheels Coordinator Natalie Godwin immediately thought of her social groups.
“We’ve been slowly working on making this room more comfortable,” Natalie explains, gesturing to the cozy tables with tablecloths, art on the walls and couches arranged into nooks.
“It used to be more industrial, just bare long tables in rows, so I thought that if we could get the groups to create something that could also be used in the room, that would be perfect.”
When Natalie got in touch with Kay, they decided to make a mosaic top for a coffee table they found second-hand.
Participant Olive quite likes doing the mosaic, but what she likes most about her three weekly trips to the Meals On Wheels social group is the company. She’s a long way from her childhood, riding a horse five miles to school every day and the Cobargo dairy farm she grew up on.
“I like people,” she says matter-of-factly “I’ve had a good life, I had a good husband, all this I am grateful for.”
Assisting clients like Olive is just what Meals On Wheels is there for and they are always in need of volunteers to help.
“There is currently a two-year wait for a government care package,” Natalie explains “and people need assistance now but paying for it upfront costs a fortune. Our volunteers will often take someone out for a few hours to do some shopping and have a coffee.”
Meals on Wheels chef Jess Inkster says she was shocked to realise how many volunteers were needed to keep all the organisation’s branch’s running – 170 generous people keep the Bega Valley program humming along.
As everyone potters with their creations, Kay is looking at the bigger picture.
“I can’t wait to put it all together next week, I love that this is the group’s design, it’s part of them and it will be here for everyone to see and touch,” she says.
To volunteer with Meals On Wheels in your area, visit their website.