Not Redundant: Catriona, a furloughed art therapist, finds her own therapy in walking
and drawing the Pentlands
Back in March I was working as the Art Facilitator at Castle Craig Hospital
for Addictions near Peebles.
It was a job I had been doing for three years and one I really loved.
It involved working in a shabby blue hut with dramatic views over the
Peeblesshire hills and farmland.
Over two and half days people from all walks of life and different countries
would come to the art room.
Lawyers, nurses, counsellors, racehorse owners, homeless, doctors, teachers,
porn stars, all who appeared to have nothing in common apart from the
unifying illness of addiction.
I have had some of the most inspirational and educative conversations in
that hut. They would take part in art therapy exercises that people found
immersive, sometimes frightening but always relaxing. People would say
often; “this is better than mindfulness.” It was a feel-good job and one that I
thought I would continue to do for many years.
It also supported my work as an artist.
I was put on furlough at the end of March and by that time there were 8
cases of covid in the hospital. I’m a lifelong asthmatic and so I was very
relieved to get the phone call telling me I didn’t need to come into work.
I live in a small village and immediately the pub turned itself into a shop and
a community helpline was set up. We were self-sufficient and the sun was shining.
Added to this the traffic stopped and very few people visited the village, it
was a step back in time.
I decided to use all this free time on a project that involved walking every
day in the Pentland area, and then making a drawing of somewhere I had
been or something I had seen.
The project was about re- seeing the beauty of the place I live in.
I had thought I would feel claustrophobic about just being stuck at home but
there has been something immensely freeing about being in one place and
exploring it in a way I haven’t before.
The Pentlands are a place of rugged beauty with splendour in corrugated
iron huts, reedy ground and hills that change shape as the light falls in
different ways. It has been a privilege to try and capture that.
At the end of June I heard I had been made redundant, it was painful but
the thing that has kept me going is to keep walking and drawing in the