On a row of seemingly ordinary looking bungalows in suburbia an artist is toiling away creating a magical world in watercolours that wouldn’t be amiss in the pages of a storybook. This month I visited Carla Gebhard, illustrator and creative at her studio, situated in her family home in Thornton-Cleveleys.
After a small argument with a gate on my way in and a short trip up the driveway I was greeted at the door by a cheerful and welcoming array of family members (including a friendly Boxer dog named Stanley) into Carla’s home. A busy household tucked away on a quiet street on the edge of Thornton.
Entering the house through a large and airy utility room, which contains the family’s recent car boot and flea market finds alongside the usual households items there is a selection of coats and shoes and piles of things waiting to be put away or made use of. At the end of this area you step into Carla’s sanctuary, an extension off the main house and a space dedicated to the whimsical creations of this multitalented artist. Carla has been using this room to sleep and work since January when she cleared out the clutter to set up her studio overlooking the garden away from busy family life.
The room is divided by a screen, hiding the main working space as you enter. The evidence of Carla’s creative touch is everywhere; a colourful watercolour painting of an enchanted tree is tacked to the space above her sleeping area, an array of colourful pillows scattered on the bed and a small collection of second hand furniture occupy this section of the room. Behind the screen is Carla’s work area. Pushed up against the window to create a desk is an old wooden table top that once belonged to her father from his market stall days. Underneath this is an impressive collection of books on a variety of topics arranged in colour order. Fairy tales rub shoulders with textile manuals and journals about wildlife. On the walls, painted a brilliant white, her watercolour illustrations are placed side by side with hand embroidered flowers pieces. Carefully selected and clearly cherished items are arranged, horses leaping off the page next to photos of her beloved pets and mementos from family and friends.
The space is clean and well organised, there are piles of similar objects stacked neatly together, from cardboard boxes to paint pallets, items are easy to find and have clear purpose. A timetable of her week sits on the window sill next to her painting materials. The garden beyond is filled with wildlife, a rich source of inspiration and quiet reflection. The space is peaceful and comfortable, the hours slip by as we talk about Carla’s extraordinary journey to becoming the artist she is today and her fascination with gargoyles whose cheeky faces peer at us from the corners of the room, bringing with them a feeling of protection from the dangers of the outside world. Carla has created a sanctuary in her studio, it is a place where she is bringing fairy tales to life in her work and making her own dreams of being an artist come true.
For more information about Carla’s work:
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