"I make things with people - that's what really inspires me, using my creativity to work with other people to help them to discover theirs."
Cath Ford is a community artist, illustrator and creative collaborator based in Blackburn, Lancashire. We have commissioned her to work with Blackburn group Creative Support, which provides person-centred social care services for people with learning disabilities, mental health and other needs.
As an artist, it is important to Cath to play an active role in her community, making a difference to the world through the things she creates and her relationships with other people.
I love to make, draw and decorate. I am inspired by folk art from around the world and by humankind’s drive to communicate and express our identity through the things we wear, use and where we live. For me, my work as an individual artist and my work with other people are inextricably linked.
Over the past 25 years, Cath has worked alongside individuals and communities on creative processes which encourage expression, collaboration and understanding. She says that in our increasingly fast-paced, consumer world, opportunities to make and spend time making alongside other people are rare, precious and needed. And that through making together we can create places where confidence, friendships and community can flourish.
She makes and sells colourful and affordable objects at art markets and is proud to be part of the rich heritage of making in this part of Lancashire. She paints old furniture, pottery, works in textiles, makes jewellery and paints on scrap wood. She is an illustrator working predominantly on community publications, events and in health settings.
I am so excited to be working with Super Slow Way and Creative Support in Blackburn, my home town. The long term partnerships between communities and artists which are at the core of Super Slow Way are an exciting opportunity for Pennine Lancashire and invest in our ambition, our confidence, our communities and our future. This residency with Creative Support puts historically disenfranchised people at the heart of the programme and I am proud to be working on a residency where I am able to make a valuable contribution to the programme and to my own community.
We are beginning our work together by making, creating and playing, exploring ideas and building skills and confidence. Over the next couple of months I will be responding to the group’s ideas and interests, identifying opportunities to make new work and for the group to connect with the wider Super Slow Way programme and the cultural life of Blackburn.
I had to think carefully about what we were going to do because everyone has different needs and different interests. Learning about that and learning how to build trust over time has allowed us to find ways to get everyone participating and people do that at their own level and their own way. It’s fantastic when people discover their creativity – or rediscover their creativity.