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From pain to paint - Ballymena artist set to inspire local schoolchildren

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Ballymena artist Carly Wright is hitting the ground running in 2023 with plans in place to work with a number of schools in the area in a bid to improve mental health and well-being, while inspiring confidence and self worth through the use of art and creativity.

The young local woman whose distinctive works of art have become increasingly recognised and respected over the last few years, has described the opportunity to help positively impact children and young people as a "dream come true".

Growing up in council estate in Ballymena, Carly experienced the challenges of finding her way in an environment where drugs offered escape from pain and lack of purpose, but also escalated the struggle of negative emotions in the mind of a young girl with little sense of self-worth and feelings of having found no place in this world having left school with no qualifications.

Carly understands pain.

It was in 2018 however, only four years ago, that Carly began her journey into art, discovering personal freedom and healing as she found expression for her emotions in her paintbrushes.

The talented 34-year-old artist now wants to take a message of hope, inspiration and self-belief to the next generation, to do her part in helping to turn the tide of children and young people struggling with ill mental health.

Carly told Love Ballymena:

"I want to do my best to give hope to the younger generation, to help them believe they can be anything they want to be.

"I love painting emotions, and expressions of situations that I have been in and come out the other side of. By teaching them how I paint and why, and showing them different techniques, I want the children to find their creative voice to enable them to also express their feelings.

"Sometimes as I paint and I'm struggling to get it right, I have to talk to myself and find strength to believe that I can do it. Our children need to know when they are up against the odds, that they can find strength in their hearts to believe in themselves, to keep going and to not give up. Sometimes that begins with someone believing in them."

Backed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the initiative 'Wild About Wellbeing' will launch this Spring with Carly working with a group of P7 pupils at Ballykeel Primary School. After a number of weeks of in-class creativity an exhibition of Carly's and the children's work will be held in The Braid Arts Centre.

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council commented:

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Museum Team are delighted to be working with artist Carly Wright on a funded project called ‘Wild about Wellbeing’ with Ballykeel Primary School between March and May 2023.

"The project is kindly supported by Northern Ireland Museums Council and the Art Fund.”

Local TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston has helped and encouraged Carly with the project. Commebtimg he said:

"I am delighted that Council is working with Carly to promote mental wellbeing and has been able to provide a platform to tell her story which will inspire the next generation of budding artists.

"Carly posted a video on Facebook that her dream was to host an art exhibition in the Braid Centre, I’m glad that we’ve been able to make that happen and also give her the opportunity to work with children in Ballykeel Primary School.

"Carly has a bright future ahead of her and is destined for big things. With her passion and talents, this is only the beginning of her story."

Carly concluded:

"With so many young suicides and deaths in this town, if I can help even one kid change their mind and believe in themselves enough to know how worthy they are, maybe then when they are older and dealing with things they won’t consider taking what they think is the easy way out by ending their own life.

"By showing our young how special they truly are and that they can do anything when they put their minds to it, together with respect for themselves and others, we can help give them confidence and the self-worth to believe and to make it in this world.

"Painting and art has helped me with this, and now I hope to help them."


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