Cerisia deals with topics that often stay hidden within society, aiming to bring awareness to issues around emotional, psychological and social well-being. A member of the Centre for Women’s Justice, she currently has a focus on police-perpetrated abuse.
“I’m passionate about helping others especially women” she says, “because for women in particular, that experience of abuse is very isolating.”
How did you get into the cultural and creative sector in Cornwall?
“I’ve always been creative with my hands,” says Cerisia. “That’s the only thing I’ve ever done. I struggled learning at school, along with having a sight condition and dyslexia. When I left school I didn’t have any GCSEs apart from Art.”
After doing a degree in Fashion design and fashion illustration she worked for a fashion designer in New Zealand and a design house in London, but she found that the industry didn’t suit her, and moved back to Cornwall.
Due to her dyslexia, she had never thought of herself as a writer. “I was ashamed of my dyslexia, I would write poems in paintings and then paint over them,” she says, “so that no one knew they were there. Or hide my words on the back so that they wouldn’t be visible after it was framed.”
But the encouragement she received while doing an MA in Illustration Authorial Practice at Falmouth university helped inspire her to incorporate poetry into her illustration, and it is now an integral part of her artistic practice.
Why did you want to join the leadership programme?
“I have gained a lot of experience over the years,” says Cerisia, “and some of that experience wasn’t great and I lost my power. So I thought it could be very good for me to learn to be more assertive and become comfortable in the roles I’m taking for my own personal projects, because some of them can be quite challenging. I needed something to allow me to be a bit more confident.”
She had a very clear idea of the kind of leadership style that she wanted to develop.
“Part of my practice is very spiritual,” she says. “and the work that I do alongside my art is too. It’s always been there. When I look at the workshops or readings I’ve done, it’s always been about being a facilitator who can support people to move in the directions they need to go in. It’s all about being able to hold the space for people.”
What have you learned from the experience?
“Even in my own creative practice within my art studio,” says Cerisia, “it’s allowed me to explore where I want my work to go. It’s increased my confidence to pursue projects that I would like to do.”
Beyond this, participating in the programme has inspired her to take a wider view of the community and reflect on what she can do to support other creatives in Cornwall.
“It’s opened lots of doors for me that I would never have seen,” she concludes, “had I not taken that leap of faith to apply.”
What is your action research project?
Cerisia’s research question is deceptively simple: “how can we build a community so that we can be successful together?”
Focusing on Krowji, the creative hub in Redruth where she’s a tenant, she is looking at how artists can create more successful business models. She hopes to develop networking trade shows aimed at gallery owners, curators or publishers – those who commission or employ creatives.
“And hopefully from that,” she says, “we can build something that allows creatives to have more control over where their work is going and develop their opportunities.”
In common with other Krowji tenants, Cerisia was badly affected by the fire in May 2021. She’s created a sketchbook to pass around and intends to make a book from the result, “just to have a little capsule of that moment in time for everyone.”
“I guess it’s a healing process,” she says, “isn’t it?”
What are your goals for the creative and cultural sector in Cornwall?
Cerisia is passionate about helping the creative community in Cornwall develop more stability and financial success.
“Everyone benefits from creativity,” she says, “but the creator often doesn’t make a profit. For me, this isn’t just my job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s my whole life, it’s my therapy, it really helps me function. I couldn’t survive without doing this. I began to realise that loads of people are in the same boat. So what we need to do is work out how we can build a community so we can be more successful together.”