Marylyn Cropley - Profile 2015       


I am an artist, musician, and recently retired creative well-being practitioner, active in my local community and a member of the Poole and East Dorset Art Society (PEDAS).


Until 2013, I was a Director of TAP (The Arts Poole) - a Community Interest Company founded by Mark Howell; TAP created a vibrant movement, bringing together local artists from all genres, to network and showcase their work in Poole and surrounding areas. TAP still continues on Facebook, providing an online network for artists (both old and new to TAP), fostering communication and showcasing local talent.


In 2008 I ran a monthly live art and music experience called Freeplay. After receiving an UnLtd Award in 2009, I set up a pilot community project (Freeplay Chill). This led to other projects such as Freeplay Events and Freeplay Well-being “walk-shops” run by me on a voluntary basis, as a not-for-profit, social enterprise.


Freeplay’s vision is to; foster individual well-being through creative community experiences. Through Freeplay projects, I have been able to bring together local musicians, artists, creative writers, individuals and organisations, offering opportunities to showcase local talent, whilst helping to create a therapeutic live art and music experience with others.


For over 25 years I worked as a professional within a local authority, supporting people using the mental health and learning disability services, and facilitating art, music, creative writing and other group activities. This included some collaborative work with the Poole Arts Development Unit, in the College Study Gallery of Modern Art (known as KUBE and now sadly no longer an Art facility!) and with Andy Baker (The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). These experiences culminated in my being commissioned to write an Art Activity Manual for groupwork facilitators and individuals, published by Speechmark in 2004 (now Routledge).


For several years, until March 2011, I worked as a Qualified Social Worker and well-being practitioner within a Local Authority Mental Health Team and in a Primary Care NHS Trust: using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), promoting well-being, and offering 1-1 support and group sessions, to enable clients to better understand and manage anxiety, stress, low mood and common mental health issues. From April 2013 to April 2016, I have worked as an independent well-being practitioner, building on my past experiences of CBT and art-based activities, to design and offer Freeplay Creative CBT walk-shops and 1-1 support for individuals, carers and local businesses.


As an artist, I use a variety of media and have a holistic approach to my work. I like acrylic, mixed media, pencils, pen and ink, photographs and words, depending on my mood and whatever music inspires me at the time! I enjoy using Haiku and creative writing with my work. I am particularly inspired by life experiences, people and the natural environment. I have exhibited my work in several places over the years, including The Gallery Upstairs (Upton Country Park Poole), The Lighthouse Poole, The Study Gallery of Modern Art Poole, Poole and Bournemouth Libraries.


I am a singer-song writer and have produced a CD album  “Coastline’s Calling” - as part of my ongoing journey to better understand and express my musicality, and share my love of music with others.


I have recently written and illustrated a children’s book about climate change, called “Planet Earth Needs our Help” (November 2015). My original artwork for this was recently exhibited at the “Extremely Connected” exhibition which I mounted with three other fellow artists and good friends (Liz Magee, Barry Kavanagh, Norma Rawlings).


The book has been inspired by my recent experiences as a grandmother, and by my desire to leave a creative legacy for my children, grandchildren and others. I am fortunate to have been able to draw on the expertise and knowledge on Climate Change/environmental issues of my partner Martin and my daughter Sara, to ensure the information is accurate and constructive. My grandchildren, Martin’s cat Tinkerbell, his grandchild and a certain “paperwork fairy” (Sam) provided me with the imagination and humour to create and develop an exciting journey! “Planet Earth Needs Our Help” was well received at the exhibition by everyone from 5 year olds to parents, grandparents and great grandparents! Several people requested copies, inspiring me to self-publish the book. Details of the book, and ways to order a copy can be found on my website.


I feel fortunate to have been able, creatively, and constructively, to express personal, political and social issues as an artist in many diverse ways. I feel this has enabled me to consolidate and share some of my life experiences and learning. There is a wealth of creative sharing to be done in these traumatic, yet hopeful times, and I feel that my work, and that of Freeplay, play a part in that sharing.


Thank you for visiting my website and I hope you have been inspired in some way!  


Best wishes