Art therapy inspires bright career path  

By Madeleine Dowling

In one of the Sunshine Coast’s newest art and craft cornucopias “gadgets and gizmos” galore frame the walls in a vibrant array of creative clutter. The bright walls are lined with sequins and pom poms and paints in every hue imaginable. Fairy gardens crafted from the innermost workings of a child’s imagination sit proudly on display, nestled among macramé, stained glass and tie dye.

Glitter and Goop has no shortage of colour.

Owner Kerry Kettlewell, 54, makes a cuppa and sits down at pint-sized tables. She spills on her bumpy journey to her dream career. “I hurt my back seven years ago, fell into a really deep depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and because of my age and disability I was basically put on the scrap heap,” she said. “So, it was either I sit on my backside and do nothing or buy myself a job which is what I did.”

The mother-of-three is celebrating Glitter and Goop’s first birthday after she turned her therapeutic passion into a career. Oodles of flamboyant pink crepe decorations were being made for the business’s first birthday soiree which would fittingly include a rainbow multi-decker cake to be adorned with buttercream and sprinkles.

It was art that drew her out of a dark space and began to reoccupy her thoughts.  “I love craft, but when I hurt my back, I was really low, like ridiculously,” she said. “The depression was so bad, and I was told I couldn’t do my job any more, so everything you’ve worked for – all of a sudden it’s gone. It’s awful.”

It wasn’t until an ad for stained glass making caught her eye that things began to turn around. “I went, and there was only three people in the class … it was meant to only be for an hour, and she taught me how to cut glass, and the colours and I sat there for over three hours,” she said.  “I said to her ‘why didn’t you tell me it was time to go?’, she said ‘you needed it’.”

Birthday guests enjoying craft activities at the party. Credit: Glitter and Goop.

The therapeutic benefits of creating the stained glass kept Kerry ravenous for more. “Some days I was there for half a day, and I just had to sit there and play with glass,” she said. “It helped me forget that I couldn’t do my job, but it was something that I could do.”

Kerry’s weighty uphill battle with depression and her venture into an art therapy enables her to help inspire others. “It’s helped me,” she said.  “If I can help my depression and my anxiety then I can help someone else.  I might have been written off, but I can still do something, and I can still make a difference, and if I can make a difference then it’s good.”

In past work in an outside school hours care centre, Kerry worked closely with children in both mainstream and special education. She takes delight in providing an inclusive and purposeful space for all. “You see kids with craft and you can give the same bits and pieces to each child and they will all make something different and most of them will make things you hadn’t even thought of and that’s the great thing about art,” she said.  “Being in here there’s no right or wrong. It’s pretty amazing.”

Despite an already impressive menu of services, Kerry shares plans for the future. “We’re going to an old people’s home because it [art] is missing in so many creative people that have got old and they’ve just been thrown into a home and forgotten about,” she said. The successful and splendidly sequinned studio aspires to continue school holiday workshops, hosting children’s birthday parties and hopes to begin launching workshops for adults.

While Kerry’s dreams are peppered with innovative concepts for her business, she continues to offer the most enchanting workshops one could imagine. With a carefree laugh Kerry admits that although the studio is embellished with crazy creations, the best thing she’s made is in fact “a mess”.

Main image: Kerry Kettlewell cutting Glitter and Goop’s first birthday cake.  Credit: Glitter and Goop.


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