People Like Us – Rachel Doughty

Did you know stitching can help your mental health?

Rachel Doughty led one of the sessions at our online People Like Us Creative Health Festival. Rachel is a Coventry based artist who has a passion for mindful stitching. Rachel was joined on zoom by 20 people who were keen to learn the practice of slow stitching. We had attendees from Coventry, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Leicestershire, the Philippines and Seattle!

We were keen to find out more about Rachel and her practise so here are Rachel’s answers to our Q&A…

When did your creative journey begin?

I remember always drawing as a child and I wanted to be a fashion designer but when I finally got on to a fashion degree course I realised I spent a lot of time wandering past the fine art and sculpture departments of the university and decided that’s where my passion lay. Life got in the way and it wasn’t until I was a single parent of 2 small boys that I finally got to do my Fine Art degree at Coventry University

Has creativity had a positive impact on your health and well being? If so tell us more!

Although doing a degree whilst being a single parent was tough it also saved my sanity as I got to do every day, what I loved; I think that time would have been very difficult if I hadn’t had my art practice

Everything creative that I do now, be it painting, sewing or even gardening, has a calming and grounding effect on my mental health and I strongly believe in the power of creativity to settle the soul

What creative activity have you been doing to help you survive lock down?

The lock down came at a really difficult time for me personally. Both my elderly parents had been in and out of hospital since the beginning of the year. I had spent the previous 3 weeks being a carer for my dad as my mum was back in hospital; so very, very stressed.

I found I didn’t have the energy of focus to produce my usual art so little pieces of stitch became my daily practice and definitely helped to keep me calm. As a gatherer, I began picking up stuff that I found on my daily lockdown walks, such as feathers, leaves, rusty nails and washers, sheeps wool attached to a fence and interesting sticks. I have now stitched these on my pieces of stitching to produce a visual memory of my lockdown period

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island what one record, one book and one creative item would you take with you?

“Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones. “Close Range, Brokeback Mountain and other Stories” Annie Proulx,

I’m struggling with the creative item as I could make my own charcoal, paints, brushes, paper, clay etc

What have you missed since being in lock down?

Seeing friends and family

What are you hoping City Of Culture’s legacy will be?

That culture and creativity are truly inclusive and not just for the few

What are your top tips for people wanting to explore their creativity?

To not be worried about making mistakes or worrying what it looks like; creativity is about the process, not the final outcome

How can people get involved with your work/artwork?

As I frequently produce issue-based art, I rely on people’s input; for example, my next project is about domestic duties during the lockdown. A survey about that will be going out soon. I also run workshops, where I share my skills, knowledge and passion for art and crafts

Find out more on my website, follow along on Facebook and Instagram

What are your hopes/plans/dreams for your creative journey?

I love to teach so I can’t wait to get back to live workshops but this time has also given me the opportunity to run Zoom art classes, something I wouldn’t have considered before.

I am a maker and as long as I can continue to make and learn new skills I will feel fulfilled but a big part of my practice is the sharing of my skills, knowledge and passion for the creative. I am looking for more ways to be able to do that, that are financially sustainable for me but don’t exclude those that can’t afford to pay for art classes or workshops

Share the love – is there anyone in Coventry who you would like to shout out about? Who should our readers be looking out for? 

Needlecraft For Wellbeing run by Niki Doughty (no relation)I first met her through Blankets for the Homeless and she runs non-for-profit craft classes at the Belgrade theatre


People Like Us

Coventry’s own online creative health festival – Monday 6th – Sunday 12th July 2020

Designed and made for the people by the people. Celebrating the power of arts and creativity.

People Likes Us can come together to create opportunities, to dream, to co-create, to do things, to make things, to think about things, to rebel against things, to change things. But most of all to explore our creativity and connect with new people.

What can we create together that will have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing?

Check out the other People Like Us Creative Health blogs 

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Thanks for reading! 

Melissa x