A South Devon artist will be staging a special workshop in Ivybridge later this month where people will be able to create their own art work using recycled paper and card.

Known affectionally by friends as “the Queen of Crap”, 62-year-old Kim Watkins specialises in making artwork from everyday discarded items, including 1970s beer bottle labels and war-time petrol ration coupons.

Although Ms Watkins spent most of her life as a staff nurse and teaching assistant, she developed her skill after becoming physically and mentally unwell about 10 years ago.

The experience made her re-evaluate her life. As a result, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a full-time artist shortly afterwards.

Channelling “her inner Womble”, in reference to the children’s fictional characters who collect and recycle rubbish, her work consists in recognising the beauty of everyday throwaway items to create engaging and nostalgic pictures, gaining inspiration from the rural environment close to the sea.

Paper and card are juxtaposed and sewn into colourful contrasting designs, which tell a story not just through the resulting image, but through the raw materials themselves.

Artist Kim Watkins
Artist Kim Watkins (Kim Watkins)

Her body of work includes pictures, books and brooches, and virtually all the materials she uses are recycled.

Ms Watkins explained how her love of all things “rubbish” played a crucial role in helping her to overcome a dark period in her life.

“It helped me hugely. I got really ill when I was about 50, and coming out the other side I made the decision I had to take the bull by the horns. I’ve now been doing it full-time ever since and I’m absolutely loving it,” she said.

She said she hoped the workshop would give back to the community by helping participants in a similar, therapeutic way.

“I’ve been running these workshops for a while and people get counselling out of it – you’re with them for four to five hours and it’s total escapism for them.”

Budding artists will be encouraged to give free rein to their artistic bent at the ‘Little Houses’ workshop at the town’s Clay Factory. Equipment and materials will be provided, although participants will be able to bring their own items.

The Little Houses Workshop will take place on Saturday, January 13, from 10am to 2.30pm at the Clay Factory, Ivybridge.