Meet Cara Macwilliam, Inspiration from the Invisible 2021 art competition winner

Cara Macwilliam's Energies 1 won our 2021 art prize, and is now a treasure in our art collection. Here, Cara shares what it meant to win the art competition...

By: The College of Psychic Studies.   Posted

Of the tsunami of incredible entries for our Inspiration from the Invisible 2021 art competition, we were all completely taken with Cara Macwilliam's Energies 1. Here, Cara shares what inspires her work, and what winning the art competition has meant for her. Cara kindly donated her winning piece to the College's archive - it will be exhibited in our Creative Spirits exhibition this autumn.

Portrait of Cara Macwilliam with her art prize-winning piece

When did you first discover your passion for creating art? 

"I really loved art when I was younger but my GCSE art teacher knocked the confidence out of me. I stopped creating physically, but stayed in love with art itself. However, in 2018, I started creating during a severe ME relapse which changed my life so dramatically that I haven't stopped since. I can't create every day. In fact, I can only create 6-7 hours per week, but the positive effect those hours have on my sense of self is priceless.

Due to my illness I still have to spend the majority of my time in complete isolation. I often only see people for a few hours per week. This is good and bad. Good as it's what creates the art, bad as obviously years and years of isolation can take a mental toll. I do think, however, this is where the automatism in my work is birthed. The isolation is how I connect to the energy around me. It allows the automatic process of my art to unfold as there are scant external disturbances. It's how I deeply hear and feel. I don't think I'd be able to connect quite so profoundly otherwise. Plus I've been meditating for many years now and I'm sure that is also impactful on my process.

What materials do you use?

"I use a wide range of materials from watercolour pencils, India ink, watercolours, polymer clay, textile and, most recently, adding digital mediums to the physical. I'm led really by my health on any given day as to what I reach for - they all take different amounts of physical or cognitive energy - but also whatever is calling to me. Each material gives me a different feeling and energy when I work with it. 

My process is strengthening as is my automatic approach. Constraint of vision doesn't work for me. And I'm more and more surprised as time goes by. I sometimes use the Thoth Tarot before I create, especially if my work is in response to a person who has passed through, for example. I'll pull the tarot first to get an energetic picture of them or have a 'conversation' with them through the tarot. Then I'll go on to work and see what comes out on to the paper."

Cara Macwilliam's Paintings series

Who is your favourite artist?

"Oh my, how to choose? Way too many to list, I appreciate a really wide variety of artists and can be moved by the simplest lines to deep mastery across all mediums. However, The College holds many art works of the artists I greatly admire."

What inspires you?

"It's definitely my internal pull and intuition that inspires me. And the intrigue of not knowing what is going to come to me on the day. I still miss my pre-illness life, which was always full of adventure and learning. So now instead via creation, I wander off into the profound expansive space all around me. It gives me that sense of freedom and discovery that I've lost on a physical level. The spiritual seems to be showing me how to access the boundless regardless of disability. We are – and everything around us is – energy, so that is what I am tapping into. This is what drives me, what pulls me constantly when I work, where I drop into."

Tell us about your winning artwork, Energies.

"Oh this is one of my most special energy drawings, it's an incredibly beautiful and unique energetic entity that came out. It sparks so much joy in me when I see it. It's delicate, and it brims with kindness. That bulbous glow is blooming adorable. And it feels protective to me, like an amulet."

Can you share a little of your journey?

"I suffer from PTSD after a number of traumas over my lifetime. In the last few years, I have started to come to terms with them. I started art therapy, which was specifically trauma based. My very first 'energy' drawings appeared in my trauma journal. I was playing with different ways to help anchor my nervous system when it became emotionally imbalanced. Using watercolour pencils, and laying fine line upon line and layer upon layer, that process became incredibly grounding for me, and quickly ended up being my preferred way to anchor myself. It creates a positive energetic shift within and I'm left with the marks of the ethereal entity that has passed through."

Cara Macwilliams' Sculptures series

What was the first thing you did when you discovered you'd won the art competition?

"A massive gasp of disbelief and shock! Then I called my parents, family and friends. I honestly could not believe it. To be fair, I still don't. I still pinch myself. It means everything to me, for my work to be wholly seen and understood has radically changed my perception of my artistic capability. Which, in turn, has led to so much development in the last 12 months. It really was the catalyst for many more wonderful artistic opportunities. And I will forever be appreciative of that."

How do you feel about having a work in the College's collection?

"It's just mind blowing. To have my work alongside such world-renowned artists, with such a rich history. I feel incredibly honoured. I hope to make it finally to the College in autumn for the Tarot symposium and to be able to see [my artwork] there will be so special for me."

What's next for you?

I was incredibly blessed to have been awarded a DYCP by the ARTS Council England this year. I'm learning to meld my physical work with digital processes. I have a vision of a large installation piece, enveloping people experientially on a number of senses. When I started with this new process, I was thinking that I'd be bringing my surreal worlds to life on a larger scale but what's coming out presently and what is totally surprising me is that I'm still automatically drawing using the software, adding layer upon layer of effects to produce a piece, recording the process live. And the work is still producing energies and entities and beings. It's utterly fascinating and exciting, knowing that I can upscale and that I can bring a whole new physical, yet ethereal dimension to my work using light and sound. I can't wait to see how much further this goes. I'll also be doing more physical art over the coming year, especially to use as a starting point for the digital pieces.

As long as I keep to my work ethic, keep connecting to my artistic intuition whilst working on my craft, I hope further opportunities will naturally follow and maybe the wider world might get to know my work more. If not then the unseen world will still keep opening up for me because at its core that is what my art is and I don't think much could stop my creative output now."

All images © Cara Macwilliam. Visit Cara's Macwilliam's website to see more of her work. Cara has generously contributed her winning artwork, Energies 1, to the College collection. Thank you, Cara!

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