The thought of a solo show was daunting but Cheryl Hastings eventually convinced herself she could do it.
Having a cause helped.
She is donating the proceeds of Hues and Views, her exhibit that opens tomorrow at the Bermuda Society of Arts, to the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation.
The money will go towards a bursary that gives needy families access to play therapy.
According to Mrs Hastings, her 15-year-old daughter, Elsie, and 12-year-old son, Monty, planted the seed.
“They asked what was something that I would do if I was guaranteed it would go well,” she said. “I said that I would love to have an art show, but I was too scared. But then I reflected on that and thought I really should do it.”
She first approached the BSoA and then Fiona Rodriguez-Roberts, Kaleidoscope’s director and founder.
“I asked if could raise funds for the bursary,” said Mrs Hastings, a play therapist with the Devonshire arts charity. “I thought that it would be nice if I took ownership and put something in there myself.
“Hopefully, I will sell my work and raise some funds. I am terrified, but everyone’s been lovely. People have been very supportive.”
She has picked 18 of her “bright and bold” acrylics to hang in Studio A. All are available for sale. She has also created a collection of postcards that children can buy, should they want to contribute.
Although it’s her first solo show, Mrs Hastings isn’t new to art.
“Originally I was a teacher,” she said. “I used to teach art in the UK and worked with secondary schools with learning differences groups as well.”
A sojourn in Botswana led her to the path she’s now on. She was one of several people hired by the British Council to go to the country in southern Africa and “teach and train up locals who wanted to teach”.
“When I went back to the UK, I did a little bit of teaching work, but by then I had children and I wanted to change what I was doing.
“There were children who couldn’t access what was being taught because they had emotional needs and so I looked into retraining as a play therapist.”
In practice, the job is exactly as its name implies. “It’s using play as a child’s natural medium to communicate,” Mrs Hastings said. “Children don’t say what they’re thinking, but they will play out what’s going on and show how they’re feeling. It allows them to express themselves and work through whatever it is they are going through.”
Referrals come from social workers and parents.
She spends four days a week with students in public schools and one day at Kaleidoscope, where her focus is children with learning difficulties.
“The kids have a set routine and each week they have the same things available for them to express themselves — puppets, art material, they can role play.
“I also have a sand tray with small world figures so that any scenario a child has in mind they have a way to express it.”
Her sessions last 45 minutes and are completely “child-led”. They help kids from the age of three cope with a wide range of challenges — from hyperactivity to getting along better with their peers.
“They might want to do the same thing every week,” Mrs Hastings said. “It is their way of expressing themselves and working through what’s going on in their lives.
“It’s really effective in primary schools. You get results quicker. It shows me their difficulties and their strengths usually after six to eight sessions but I say 12 sessions is good to start.”
Looking for a way to continue her art, she got involved with Bermuda’s Plein Air group on moving here six years ago.
“We meet every Sunday morning and paint,” she said. “I’ve learnt more from them here, on a Sunday morning, than I ever did going to art school. They’ve been so generous with advice, encouragement and support. I’ve been painting with them and participating in group shows at Dockyard [Arts Centre] and at BSoA and everyone’s been encouraging.”
The 18 paintings in Hues and Views were painted as part of that.
“I’ve gone through a purple and pink phase recently,” the artist laughed. “They’re bright and, mostly quite cheerful, scenes from around Bermuda — of Tom Moore’s Jungle, there’s some machinery, Spittal Pond, there’s a painting from the ‘back of town’ as well — everything has a quirky colour take on it. It’s kind of like clay with paint.”
• Hues and Views opens tomorrow at Bermuda Society of Arts and will run through October 1. Proceeds from the sale of Cheryl Hastings’s paintings will give needy families access to Kaleidoscope Art Foundation’s play therapy service. Learn more about play therapy at www.creativerumpus.com