An artist and director of circus theatre who moved to Ramsgate this year is on a mission to share the realities – good and bad – of going through menopause in an exhibition of photography and interviews.
Catrin Osborne, who is also a teacher at Union Yoga in Ramsgate, will tour the UK next year with exhibition “This Is What The Menopause Looks Like.”
The tour, which will include venues in Ramsgate and Whitstable, aims to begin conversations with women going through menopause, to lessen the stigma around it, celebrate women going through it and educate those around them so that they can offer the right support.
It will feature photos and stories from five women in each of ten places across the country, which will then also be used as venues on the tour. Catrin has already collected 24 of these and is continuing her interviews this year.
The project is an expansion of an exhibition originally held in 2019 which was prompted by Catrin experiencing a difficult, early menopause in addition to undiagnosed ADHD.
Catrin said: “I was 45 when I started getting symptoms. I’m 49 this month and still going through it. After eventually finding the right treatment, I decided to put an advert on social media seeking women to interview and photograph.
“I travelled around the UK talking to, photographing and interviewing women about their experiences. This culminated in a small exhibition as part of a night called Bad Fruit at Chats Palace in Hackney in September 2019 featuring two portraits and an interview of each person. The people I photographed and interviewed were from Whitstable, London, Leeds, Bristol and Bolton.
“During the third lockdown I decided to apply for funding from Arts Council England and reach out to venues around the country to see if I could expand and tour the exhibition. I got a great response and around ten venues came back to me saying they were interested.
“I ran a Crowdfunder campaign to raise awareness about the project and for match funding. This has brought about a crowd of supporters who will come and see the exhibition around the UK. After a long wait I found out a few weeks ago that I was successful with my funding application from the Arts Council.”
Catrin is now collating her photos and interviews ready for the tour which will include shows at Hold Creative Space and Eats and Beats in Ramsgate, The Hot Tin in Faversham, The Horsebridge Arts Centre in Whitstable, Tactile Bosch in Cardiff, Ridley Road Social Club in Dalston, London, Nelson’s Wine Bar in Todmorden, Touchstones gallery in Rochdale, Theatre Deli in Sheffield, Broken Arrowz Gallery in Brighton and Silk Mill in Frome.
At each venue there will be an opening night with a writer or a musician/singer/performer who is going through menopause involved.
Catrin is also giving a talk at The Arnolfini in Bristol and one of the people she photographed is running a writing workshop about the menopause and organising a spoken word night at the same venue.
Catrin will also be part of a round table discussion at University of Kent about how neuro diversity is often not diagnosed in women- she identifies as dyslexic and ADHD.
She said: “I want to change the typical negative way we imagine menopausal women, it is always someone a bit grey and depressing. All my pictures are brightly coloured and of women in happy places. Every interview had the truth that it can be difficult but also looks at the positives. People do not care so much about what others think of them as they get older and are often re-finding themselves. One woman was a competitive swimmer when she was younger and got back into that. For me, I started writing because I couldn’t sleep and I wrote a novel!”
The project is running under Osborne and What, a community arts organisation run by Catrin and husband Simon, who is also a disability advisor.
They direct, design and produce circus theatre shows and collaborate with other companies and youth community groups. Simon also uses his working knowledge to make sure everything they do is fully accessible to all.
The pair have been taking part in the Ramsgate Festival of Sound in Beyond the Vale and, upcoming, Busk at Dusk – they are most likely to be spotted on stilts!
The couple moved from London to Ramsgate in May after initially thinking they would find a property in Margate.
Catrin said: “We had been coming down for short breaks for around seven years and thought we would move to Margate but it was really hard to find somewhere to rent.
“Amie, who owns Union Yoga, said Ramsgate was nice. We looked and thought it was amazing, lots of creatives, dog walkers and swimmers and the closest of the towns to London – everything we wanted. We are really glad we moved here.”
Catrin, who was one of the circus performers at the Olympic opening ‘Mary Poppins’ show in London in 2012, is also using her experience to run a 6 week course at Union Yoga for women going through menopause.
She said: “It is a nice course, we talk about menopause and explore ways we can work with our bodies and different ways to help.”