Carnival of creativity

Rachel Carter puts finishing touches to a willow sphere.

Hidden down an alleyway in an old factory in Ilkeston is a studio housing an eclectic band of people producing some of the region’s most exciting contemporary art.

Shed 2 Studios provides the group of graduates from the 3D Sustainable Design Programme at Derby University with a vast open plan space within which they can create their art.

Among them is Rachel Carter who is an innovative award-winning sculptor who creates pieces for a garden or landscape setting using mild steel and willow.

Rachel mixes her love of art and design, with her passion for the garden and the environment. She graduated like the others in 2007 but not before having spent ten years of her life making the “sensible” choices.

She left school, went to catering college and had a safe job – but she had been artistically inclined since she was a child and that was not her dream life. In 2000 she took the plunge and gave it all up to embark on her creative career. She explored the arts, firstly with an A Level in Fine Art and then with a Foundation Course in Fine Art. Finally, when her second child was on the way, she signed up to the Derby University course. Her husband backed her decision and gave up his full-time job to work part-time and became a house husband.

Willow Twist – one of Rachel Carter’s installations.

Since then she has gained herself a well-deserved award-winning status and created many amazing sculptures in some beautiful settings. In 2011 and again in 2012 Rachel was awarded a certificates from RHS Chelsea for the outstanding presentation of her stand.

The Carnival of Monsters at Chilwell, near Long Eaton, is where you will be able to see her latest work. For the next few days she will be busy installing a sculpture in one of the galleries at the event which is free to all visitors and will be open from 1pm on Saturday until October 27. For more details about Rachel’s work go to You can also find out more by reading her blog or following her on Twitter @rachelsculpture.

Last year the Contemporary Arts Festival  attracted over 4,000 visitors to a site which extends over two acres on the site of the former Bartons bus depot. The art is on a massive scale and is exhibited in an approachable style  which widens its audience.

More than 40 artists will be exhibiting and there will be shows from The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University as well as The Big Draw for children on October 20.

Bartons, which opened as a bus depot in 1913, is now the largest venue of its kind in the East Midlands.

The indoor and outdoor space that once played host to a huge fleet of buses, is now hosting weekly events dedicated to music, comedy, film, heritage and culture. For more details about the Carnival of Monsters go to