West Bridgford art school entrepreneur and mum-of-two Helen Woodford has gone from fearing for the future of her COVID-19-hit business to being shortlisted for not one, not two, but three major national digital awards.
Last March, Helen, director of West Bridgford-based Create! Art School received official notice that her company was going to have to close in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
But fast-forward a year, and she has built up a thriving completely digital art course business, with the highly talented and determined 42-year-old recognised by the Digital Women Awards as one of the Top 40 Digital Women to Watch in 2021.
Helen is shortlisted in three Digital Women Awards 2021 categories: Digital Woman of the Year, Digital Product of the Year, and Digital Mother of the Year.
The energetic mum, who receives huge encouragement from daughters Poppy, seven, and Matilda, five, says she’s “chuffed to bits” to receive UK-wide recognition for her efforts. She is also delighted that her rapidly growing enterprise is now growing on an international scale.
“Using digital technology, I sustained, supported and inspired my regular art groups. I then started a free art club to help and support a wider community, and in just a few months, I have grown the club to over 700 members – mainly in the UK but also including some in America, Canada, Thailand and France!” says Helen, proudly.
“I regularly host large workshops and teach groups of artists via Zoom or Facebook live, nationally and worldwide and supplement this with a range of video courses that are available anytime, anywhere.”
While Helen is grateful for the help that tech has given her business, she feels we mustn’t forget why we use our hands to make things.
“Creating art is an outlet, it’s a freedom, it’s a release from the day to day stuff. It’s giving yourself some time to do something absolutely for yourself. It’s totally mindful and really, really relaxing.
“That process of just picking up a pencil, a piece of chalk or a pen is sometimes lost in today’s modern technology-saturated world. Somehow, it’s assumed that it’s not needed. But it is needed; it’s needed more than ever.”