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Candice Swallow, who uses our residential services in Blackpool, is excelling as a professional artist.

Not only has Candice been signed with agent and curator Jennifer Lauren, she has also sold several pieces and her work was most recently featured as part of a pop-up exhibition; The Outsider Art Fair in New York’s metropolitan Pavilion from 29th February – 3rd March 2024.

Candice started using Autism Initiatives residential services in November 2023. She continues to also attend The New Langdale learning disability day service, run by Blackpool Council, which is where she first took up art 3 years ago.

It was here that Candice joined The pARTnership; a creative and professional development project which encourages people both with or without a learning disability to become professional artists.  The project is led by Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, The New Langdale, contemporary artist Tina Dempsey and Venture Arts in Manchester.

The pARTnership put Candice in touch with Jennifer Lauren, who is an agent and curator. Jennifer took Candice on to her books and now represents her in a professional capacity.  Jennifer works with people all across the world and has chosen Candice’s work to take over to her next pop up gallery art fair in New York this week.

Candice’s story is made even more incredible by the fact that she lost her eyesight 17 years ago at the age of thirty-one due to health reasons. She has since developed a unique way of creating art which her to maintain her independence.

Jennifer Lauren writes in Candice’s artist biography:  “Working on a paper block – [Candice] draws with one hand and manipulates the block with the other, caressing the materials whilst working rhythmically. She does not ask for specific colours when drawing, but often chooses colours from a list that is shared with her, brown being her favourite. Her combined colour palettes always blend beautifully, without any deliberate choice. The ‘C’ shape is a recurring motive in her drawings, sometimes clearly used and sometimes fractured within the finished piece, but never intentional.

[Candice] works in soft pastels, wax crayons, or thick heavy graphite sticks, applying layers of colour with both hard and softer lines. When drawing, all her senses work in tandem especially her sense of touch, often touching her face when working with the soft pastels, ending up with colour everywhere. Whilst creating, there is often little conversation, as she is focused on what she is producing.”

Candice has already been part of a joint art exhibition ‘Instinctive Energies’ through Jennifer Lauren, which was at the Mura Ma in Stockport. She has also sold 3 pieces of her artwork professionally through contacts that Jennifer put her in touch with.

Candice’s work most recently exhibited at The Outsider Art Fair, which is a pop up art exhibition for newly discovered self-taught artists. Jennifer Lauren chose two pieces of Candice’s work to feature as part of her exhibit alongside other artists that she works alongside.

Senior support Worker Natasha Carney said:  “We are all super proud of our budding artist! We look forward to seeing what’s next for Candice.  Candice was really excited to have such a fantastic opportunity. Art was something completely new that Candice took up 3 years ago, and she absolutely loves it.  It has been amazing getting to know Candice over the past few months, and we are learning more about her every day.”

When she’s not doing art, Candice enjoys baking, going out to see shows and the theatre, and going out shopping or out for coffee with the Autism initiatives team.  The team have plans to work with The pARTnership to support Candice to work on her art outside of day services.

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