Tears of joy flowed as women from across Conwy saw their highly personal artworks go on display at an exhibition at a library.
The show, Emerging Woman Art Journey, features 13 paintings produced by talented tenants of the Cartrefi Conwy housing association over the course of the last three years.
The courses were conducted by the acclaimed Shropshire-based artist Lisa Lochhead.
The women attended courses organised by Cartrefi and now Llandudno library, in the town’s Mostyn Street, is staging the month-long exhibition which also features a short video in which the embryo artists talk about their work.
Watching the video left many of the women in floods of tears, among them Diane Woods, a mum from Old Colwyn, who credits the course and its organiser, Cartrefi’s Lydia Watson, with turning her life round.
Diane said: “I was virtually bed-bound and had lost all my confidence because of illness and disability and wasn’t able to drive for a long time.
“It was my midlife crisis, and I was in a wheelchair, but Lydia has helped me, one step at a time.
“I would be at home in my pyjamas, and I’d just come along like that. I was in a mess, but this course has made me realise that I can do things and I am worth it.
“It has changed my life and I have started looking after myself again. My daughter and my six-year-old grandson, Harrison, think I’m a genius – I can’t wait to bring him here to see my painting in the exhibition.”
Four two-day courses have been held by Cartrefi Conwy, for six people each and organised by community involvement co-ordinator Lydia Watson with artist Lisa Lochhead, from Whitchurch, in Shropshire.
The first was held in person followed by two online and the most recent, as lockdown eased, back in person again.
Lydia said: “It was a wonderful experience and I got so much from it myself from doing it with Lisa and the video really captures people’s experience. It’s very cathartic.
“There is a special skill in taking these ladies along on that journey. It’s changed some of their lives massively.”
Among them is Sheila Campbell, from Llandudno, who said: “I feel like the girl singing in the Sound of Music. I feel alive now and my life is so full and it’s all down to meeting Lydia.
She said: “I’ve been going to groups since I was 12 and living in Liverpool but this group is magic, and my mental health now is the best it’s ever been.
“I’ve been on medication since I was 21 and now, I’m almost drug free and I’ve lost two-and-a-half stone but it’s really more about my emotions.
“My painting is of me and of the little frightened child I used to be.
“I like myself now and I never really liked me before. I felt dead proud that this is my artwork on the wall.”
Lorraine Riley, from Old Colwyn, said that although no-one in her group knew each other before the course started, they soon formed a connection and they have stayed in touch.
She said: “I’m coping with anxiety but over the two days of the course I’ve never felt so relaxed.
“I just got so much out of it, being creative, making friends and helping deal with my anxiety – I’m so glad I let Lydia talk me into it and I’m going to keep it up.”
Vera Evans, from Llanfairfechan, added: “It was a very magical experience. I started off looking at a blank canvas.
“Then I flicked a bit of paint at it and over time everything came together. It was just so amazing.”
Lydia added: “You never know how things are going to go. A lot is trial it and see and most things do work out.
“But this course was the most powerful thing we’ve done. It’s been quite phenomenal.”