I am Caitlin, a writer and maker in Broadstairs. I decoupage seashells and ceramic baubles with hand-painted tissue paper designs, sealed with non-toxic varnish. Each item stocked at Westgate Galleria is unique and inspired by Broadstairs' seven beautiful bays, with archive fish illustrations and Victorian landscapes.
My creative journey
Back in the early 1980's, I completed a Foundation in Fine Art in London. I then became a journalist, working as a human rights reporter in Botswana. I'm the author of 14 books, both novels and non-fiction, and am also a trained teacher.
Many of my books take their inspiration from forgotten women, such as Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, set in 1860's Margate and based on the life of Victorian swimmer Agnes Beckwith, whose father hailed from Ramsgate.
Other books have a criminal theme, from female prisoners to professional women crooks and female private detectives. Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison received a nomination for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2019.
I work as a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at Kent & Medway Partnership Trust, offering free writing support to all NHS staff.
I returned to making art during the Covid lockdown of 2020, by badly decoupaging my bedroom furniture. Then I started to look for ways to use the sea glass I'd found on Stone Bay, by producing small mosaics. When I moved to Broadstairs and became a volunteer at Dickens House Museum, I began decoupaging shells with Dickensian characters.
I also work to commission, and can personalise shells and baubles with your name, company name/logo, and copyright free images. A recent example is the bespoke scallop shell designs I made for Kebbells, the Broadstairs seafood restaurant, used to serve customers' bills.
Decoupage is fun, absorbing, and a way to relieve anxiety and unwind. It's also much quicker than writing a book! It's so pleasurable playing with images, paper, glue and paint - I hope the finished product can give you pleasure too.