Words by Amanda Eleftheriades
Photos by Carolynn Bowman
What started as a campaign over a mural on a local pizza shop has mushroomed into a virtual home for local creatives and art lovers, thanks to Dumbarton artist Carolynn Bowman.
Carolynn was furious when she spotted Bangin Pizza’s Facebook post saying West Dunbartonshire Council had told them to paint over the artwork mural on their Dumbarton East shop.
She explained: “There are so many buildings in Dumbarton that could be turned in to art displays.
“The wall murals in Glasgow look amazing and have brightened up whole areas of the city, why not Dumbarton as well, the town is full of creatives.
“I love the American artist Keith Haring, his thing is that art is for everyone and at times like this when we can’t get to museums and art galleries,
“We should be looking for ways to celebrate local art – not shut it down.”
World of Social Media
This prompted Carolynn to set up the public Facebook group Art for Everyone Dumbarton which was an instant hit.
The page is for anyone to share their art – no matter what level – and enjoy the wide array of creative talent that exists in the local community.
For Carolynn, her own art has been her salvation over the past year and she is passionate that everyone has the opportunity to share in the therapeutic pleasures that creativity can offer.
She said: “I do suffer from mental health problems and recently it has been quite bad.
“Whenever my mental health goes down I’m at my most creative and my art also helps focus my mental health.
“In 2013 I had a terrible breakdown and got into painting and sewing, I was fortunate to have Ross Muir as my mentor at the time and he encouraged me to try different styles
“I went to night school to do patent drafting and then I had my daughter four years ago and struggled really badly with post-natal depression.”
Being kept busy with her young daughter and her own well-being Carrie struggled to focus on her art, it was the pandemic that actually helped her get her creative focus back.
“At the start of lockdown I was really bad mentally and then when winter came I was struggling again but my work has helped me focus.
“When I was at my crazy points last year I started doing abstract art and I had great fun with it.
“I did a lockdown painting of everything that was going on in my head, it really helped and I felt I got it all out of my head.
“Lockdown has brought me back to my art.”
And the pandemic has not only helped her creativity it has also helped her find new markets for her art.
In 2018 she set up Saffron Liberty Makes making luxury cushions and bags to sell at craft fayres.
When lockdown put an end to this she started using Facebook to sell her designs instead and this was when her business really took off.
“I started drawing Dumbarton and someone asked me to make a bag of it and then I got asked to do bags for Clydebank, Helensburgh and lots of places I’ve never even heard of.
“Someone wanted their life as a bag – the pub they drank in, their first house.
“It was something that just took on a life of its own and the bags have been sent all over the world.”
Now Carolynn is keen to encourage others to tap into their inner creativity or enjoy the art of local creatives and the Art for Everyone page looks like being just the start.
“It’s the process and therapy of doing art that matters – not what happens at the end.
“I’m really enjoying watching the page grow, people are giving each other support and tips and advice.
“There are so many brilliant makers and artists in the area – the page has shown this and it’s something our community should be proud of and celebrate.”