At Karma Coast, as well as our passion for health and wellness, our roots are sunk deeply into music and the arts, and we firmly believe in the soul-healing power that comes with connecting through creating.
The recently launched Karma Sessions are our way of sharing our love for music and its healing properties; bringing the community together, whilst showcasing some amazing local talent in the North East.
In this same spirit, we’ve decided to launch a new section of our blog, chatting to local artists, musicians, and creatives, and sharing their stories with you. Our first guest is local artist Emilie Chartier, sharing about her connection to the North Sea, healing through creating, and the beauty in community.
Hey Emilie! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start by getting to know you a little?
I’m Em. I am 30, I live in Cullercoats and I’m an artist. I love the outdoors and try to spend as much time as possible in nature; in the sea (surfing or swimming) or in the hills as I love hiking and wild camping. I also love being cosy at home with a good book and a cup of tea. When I’m not outside, I’ll be either in my studio painting and managing my little art business or at my desk working as a success, project & ops manager for a SaaS company.
You moved to England from your home country, France, what brought you to the North East?
Yes, I moved to the UK nearly 7 years ago. I spent the first 4 years in London and by the end of it, it left me very unhappy. I was a little lost on where to go next. All I knew is that I wanted to leave the city and move by the sea. After a weekend spent in the North East at the beginning of 2018, everything became clear. I simply fell in love with the North East coast and its people. I remember walking on longsands feeling a sense of home, for the very first time in my life since leaving my hometown. I promised myself to move here by the end of that year and I did. 6 months later I was quitting everything, packing my stuff and jumping on a train for Newcastle. The rest is history.
Tell us about your connection to the sea?
It is an interesting one. Being from the north east of France, I didn’t grow up by the sea at all. I would only spend time by the sea during the summer holidays. Yet, I always felt something towards it. I somehow managed to have the sea in my life one way another without realising it. I did my military training in the Navy when I was 18 then joined the reserve until I moved to London. Then I joined the marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd for 4 years and got involved in different conservation projects like the Coextinction film. I also spent a lot of time learning about the sea while writing my masters dissertation on ocean governance. Now, I live right by the sea, spend hours walking on the beach, swimming and surfing. I’ve also recently joined the RNLI so the sea really has a very predominant role in my life. It has always been a part of me really.
This connection is evident in your beautiful art. What else inspires your creative work?
I paint any feelings, emotions, or energy that I feel inside me. It can be memories or experiences too that I want to relive, process or simply let go of.
I have noticed that my paintings are becoming more and more personal with time. So I guess, what inspires my creative work is also the deep connection I have with myself and my own emotions.
Your paintings are a visual delight of textures and fluid patterns, could you give us a little insight into your creative process?
Aw thank you, that’s very kind! I absolutely love playing with texture to portrait the North Sea and it’s roughness. I also have a preference for fluid acrylic paint to create that constant movement of the water. It is never stagnant despite what you might think and I like to reflect this in my paintings: the moments and emotions of life, like currents that take you to places you don’t necessarily want to go. I also like to play with the light and the darkness that we all have inside us, that is part of us and makes us who we are as individuals.
I believe that’s what comes across from my paintings, but really I don’t have a process at all. I certainly don’t have any control over my creativity; it controls me more than anything else. I usually don’t remember how I do things and can never do it again. It is very pure in that sense. It has a life on its own and that’s something I really like.
How would you describe the way your creative practices, like painting, have been with you through the ebb and flow of life? Would you say painting supports your wellbeing?
It definitely supports my mental health and I wonder how I managed to live without doing it for so long. It has become an integral part of who I am. It found me when I needed it. The more I let go and let my creativity run free, the deeper I go within my own mind and the more I get to know myself.
Painting has been the most cathartic experience of all, it has been a real therapy for me. It is a very personal and intimate practice. My last collection, for example, is the most personal body of work I have ever created and it took me to some really dark places which I had in the corner of my mind for a very long time. It’s helped me come to terms with grief, and let go of a pain that was haunting me. I feel the connection I have with myself growing after each painting. It helps process my emotions, brings me peace and keeps me balanced.
What else do you do to support your wellbeing? Do you have any non-negotiable practices that you incorporate into your everyday?
I do. My main rule is to go outside every day to walk, swim or surf – this is non-negotiable. The outdoors is my happy place when I’m not in my studio or working. The sea – particularly the cold water – like painting, has become a big part of my life and it has really helped me when it comes to my mental health. I have my own struggles like anyone else. I suffer from health anxiety, insomnia and really bad PMS too. So creating, getting outdoors, and spending time in cold water are my things. Combined with whole food, a mainly plant-based diet and some CBD oil, I’ve got everything I need to thrive and be the best version of myself whilst navigating the storms that come my way from time to time.
Your local town, Cullercoats, is known for its communal creative history. How would you describe the sense of community along our coast?
It is a beautiful thing. The sense of community you find on the north east coast is unique and you will never be able to find it anywhere else. The people here have always made me feel like I belong here and like I am home. You are never alone and there is always someone around the corner to help you if needed.
I grew up in the North East of France and while we don’t have the sea, we have a very similar past and the heavy industry has left its mark on the area and its people too, making it unique, welcoming and beautiful in its own way.
I still feel very new in the area as I have only been here in Cullercoats for 2 years, but the more time I spend here the longer I want to stay.
Do you have any advice for people that would love to explore their own creativity, but don’t know where to start?
I would say, whatever you feel called to do, have a go at it. Do it without any pressure, expectations, nor goals to achieve. Another important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be good to do something.
I stopped myself from painting for a long time because I thought I wasn’t good enough to do it. I would tell myself you didn’t study art, you don’t know what you are doing so just forget about it. I am glad I listened to that inner voice telling me to do it. I hope you’ll do the same!
And finally, where can people find you, and your beautiful work?
You can find me on social media (Instagram and Facebook) under the name @emiliechartierart where I share my new work, some insights and behind the scenes. I also have a website where you can see all the paintings I’ve created, my contact details for purchase or commission enquiries and the link to my etsy store for my prints and postcards.
I am starting to sell my work in person at markets and will be doing my first market next week at the boiler shop in Newcastle (Sunday 15 August from 10 to 4 pm). It will be full of creatives and makers from the North East so I am definitely excited about it. Maybe I’ll see you there!