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Pottery as therapy for nurse who treats eating disorder sufferers

Author: Alistair Syme Published: 3rd October 2019 10:46


A nurse who uses pottery as a therapy for the stressful work she does with of eating disorder sufferers will have her work on display at a craft fair at a busy Ipswich Shopping Centre.
Jennifer Meintjes grew up in apartheid era South Africa and now works with adults with anorexia and other eating disorders at Bramacare at The White House, Ipswich.
She took up pottery two years ago and her work will be featured as the second in a new series of regular craft fairs is held at Sailmakers Shopping Centre this weekend by Home of Suffolk Arts And Crafts.
The co-operative of local craftworkers will be at Sailmakers this Friday and Saturday with stalls selling locally-made pottery, home-sewn goods, book crafts, photographs and prints, jewellery and glass and wooden gifts.
Jennifer, who trained as a nurse near Johannesburg in apartheid era South Africa moved first to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s after the hospital where she worked was closed.
She said: "It wasn't safe for me to travel to other hospitals so I went first to Saudi Arabia and then came to the UK 19 years ago and I've settled happily in Ipswich.
"It's a very different place but the climate is very similar but I took up pottery two years ago as my work is very stressful and I needed something to maintain my sanity.
"Dealing with eating disorders is very difficult. It literally is a disease that tries to kill the people that suffer from it.
"For a lot of people it's a case of, ‘why don't you eat something,' but it's nothing to do with that. It's about a person's personality or how their brain works.
"It ruins their lives and if you don't catch it early and it turns into a chronic disease they can struggle with it for the rest of their lives - it's really nasty."
Jennifer was looking for a distraction from the strain of caring for sufferers when she hit on pottery: "Getting into it was a spur of the moment decision," she said: "I saw a course advertised and signed up and I just seemed to have a bit of a knack for it.
"Pottery takes all of your concentration or it will go wrong and it's a process that takes time - making something and then taking it to be fired, decorating and firing it again can take a month.
"I like to make things that are functional and to make things that can have more than one purpose - I make little incense burners but they can also be used as ring holders.
"Being physically active helps work out a lot of the stress of the job and it's nice when you create something that others appreciate."
Sailmakers Shopping Centre Manager Mike Sorhaindo said: "We're delighted to have the local crafters back here again and they will be a regular attraction over the next few months with a series of craft fairs which will run through the autumn.
"They have proved very popular and we're happy to make the space we have here available for the community whenever possible."
Jennifer looks for inspiration in everyday things and on visits to second-hand shops and she added: "I am a child of the South African apartheid era which has left me with an appreciation of the healing properties of simply being creative.
"I use stoneware clay in creating my bowls, pots, mugs and other pieces. Once my creation has been drying for a week I take it for firing and decorating to Honeypie Handmade or Pennykkitty and both have proved to be super helpful."
Jennifer's work can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/pg/jenspotteryhouse and for more on what's happening at Sailmakers Shopping Centre go to www.sailmakersshopping.co.uk and to https://www.facebook.com/sailmakers

Pictured above, potter Jennifer Meintjes who will be at her stall at the craft fair at Sailmakers Shopping Centre.

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