Creatives Unlocked – Karen Blake
I’m a visual artist living and working in Weston-super-Mare and worked as a Community Producer with arts organisation Terrestrial last year, helping set up and run Weston Artspace, a community arts studio on Weston High Street. When not hanging out with the creative community in the studio, I can be found swimming in the sea with The Supermares sea swimming group or hiding away in my garden and tending my little vegetable patch. My artwork is influenced by all of these things and I’ve exhibited my work both locally and nationally.
I’ve lived in Weston since I landed here aged five. I never meant to stay, escaped a couple of times but always somehow ended up back here. In the last few years though as my young family has grown up here and started to put down their own roots I have fallen back in love with my little town. This place is full of people I love, people and places that inspire me and I get to live by the seaside. I live a 20-minute walk from the beach so am down there a lot, and there is nothing quite like sitting in one of the seafront bars watching the sun set with a cold beer. We live somewhere that others come to for their holiday, how lucky are we?
Sssshhh! Weston secrets
We have a secret beach away from the main one which is quieter, more rugged and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. One of our favourite things to do with the kids is to take a trip here on the coastal open top bus on a sunny day. The journey takes you down the Toll Road which hugs Weston Woods and has some lovely views. I don’t want to give too much away about it though, as the locals want to keep it mostly to ourselves!
My number one pick for culture & creativity is Weston Artspace, the Community Art Studio at the heart of the High Street in Weston that I help run. In terms of creativity, entertainment and well-being it ticks all the boxes and I would be lost without it and the wonderful creative community who use it. For well-being, it has to be Weston Beach – not just for the tourists! It has some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen anywhere in the UK and is the place where I can get my fix of cold-water wild swimming. We are so lucky to have this amazing wide-open space, even if the water could be a little bluer…For entertainment, Loves Café is my second home. Loves is not just a great place to eat, it hosts some incredible live music gigs in the evening from big names and emerging talent in an intimate, friendly space. They have always supported the local creative community, hosting exhibitions, events, cinema nights, theatre, talks and workshops and I always feel better as soon as I walk through the door.
Other favourite going-out places are Papas, serving the best fish and chips in Weston, in my humble opinion; ‘The Brit Bar’ for great live music and you always bump into friends here; ‘The Black Cat’ pub, no bigger than some peoples front room but has a cosy atmosphere and serves some of the best real ale in Weston; ‘Tarrentella’, a family run Italian that I have been visiting with my family since I was a kid and ‘Sakura’, one of two Japanese restaurants in Weston proving we are not just all about fish and chips!
I love the crowd of creatives I have got to know through working at Weston Artspace. There is a real energy and buzz around at the moment, and a Council who are really supportive of the arts locally. We are so close to Bristol; I can be in the centre by catching a train in as little as 20 minutes so I get to appreciate this brilliant city without having to live there which I would struggle to afford. I can walk or cycle easily everywhere I need to for work and socialising and it’s great to live in a town which feels very much on the up.
I hope that we keep riding this wave of creativity which has been gathering momentum over the last few years. I know there are people who might run the town down and of course we have problems like everywhere else. However, if more people came to love their town and get more involved in community life that is only going to help improve things locally.
Weston Walk the Walk
Choosing just one person from the past or present to walk along the prom with is really hard as there are so many people who inspire me and that I would love to connect with. So I am going to pick my Dad and keep it simple. I would love just one more afternoon with him so I could tell him about his granddaughters and hopefully let him see I turned out alright in the end!