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Artist Inga Street bringing her talents to help women at WLP (Photo courtesy of James RN Turner)

A chance meeting with a talented local artist and the generous gift of much-needed funding has enabled The Water Lily Project to launch a series of creative art sessions.

Our charity, which supports vulnerable women in Christchurch and surrounding areas to get back to independent living, is now running socially-distanced sessions to help its beneficiaries, many who struggle with mental-health issues as the isolation of this third lockdown takes its toll.

The courses are being funded thanks to The Smallwood Trust, which has been helping women on low incomes since 1886, in conjunction with the National Lottery Community Fund.

Liz Carter, manager at The Water Lily Project takes up the story: “We’ve always wanted to run creative art sessions for the women we support but needed the funding. Once we got a grant, thanks to the amazing Smallwood Trust and National Lottery Community Fund, we needed an artist to run the courses for us but where to find one during lockdown? Walking at Hengistbury Head one day, I met a wonderful local artist, Inga Street, who was painting. And even more appropriate – Inga was painting the beautiful water lilies there. How serendipitous is that!”

Inga Street is an established artist and has exhibited both locally and nationally Her pieces grace many private collections in the UK and internationally. She says: “I’ve been interested in art all my life. My mother and grandmother are both artists so I grew up with creativity being a part of the fabric at home. I’ve always found solace in creativity.”

The mum of three went back to college when her children were small and studied ‘A’ level art, then Foundation Art at Arts University Bournemouth. She then went on to study for a BA at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London.

It took her nine years to get her Batchelor of Arts, studying part-time so she could juggle work and looking after her children. In the middle of this, her marriage ended. Inga explained: “I was alone with the kids. I’d also worked with my husband so lost my job and we were being evicted from our home. Being able to immerse myself in artwork was a haven in the storm and a way to transmute some of the challenges and emotions.”

Inga is delighted to now be helping other women enjoy the mindful benefits of art through The Water Lily Project. She said: “I want to share this with other people because of the lifeline it’s given me. Through teaching at the Water Lily Project, I’m excited to pay forward the help and support I got from people when I needed it.
I hope that my passion for art can inspire a journey that helps others to enjoy the gifts that creativity offers,  to inspire a shared enthusiasm for making art and a way for each individual to find their joy.”

She added: “I have a special fondness for Hengistbury Head and since returning from London it has been my muse.”

You can see Inga’s work on her website, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ingastt