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Mandy is finally living the creative dream

By Fiona Reid
Mandy is finally living the creative dream

A LONG held dream is coming true for artist and author Mandy Nicholson.

The 56-year-old has purchased a project home in Dalbeattie to renovate into a residential therapeutic art centre to help people reignite their creative passions and develop their skills.

She wants to re-connect others with their innate artistry and creativity by honing their skills and digging deep into what is already there and restoring their confidence.

Mandy said: “For those who know me this will be no surprise! I am regularly referred to as ‘the castle lady’ by people I don’t even know! I have been sharing my dream to buy a Scottish castle and run creative retreats for over a year now. Although that remains my big goal, I have managed to ‘manifest’ a steppingstone property in Dalbeattie and I’m absolutely over the moon.”

She plans to revamp three of the seven bedrooms of the 1800’s property on the High Street into a B&B and luxury creative spaces and hopes that by the end of the year it will all be ready.

“I can’t wait to host folks,” said Mandy. “I will be the queen of my mini castle – I really want people to be able to come here so that they can be honest with themselves about who they really are, and perhaps even uncover some of those dormant gifts and talents.

“I don’t care whether people’s reason for being here is therapy or curiosity or discovery, the aim is bring art to the fore and relish all of its incredible benefits!”

Mandy, who lived in Northumberland until recently, was a creative child, but followed a path into the corporate world and for many years focused on building more traditional businesses.

But her world came tumbling down in 2009 after a series of unfortunate events starting with a car crash on the way to work, closely followed by the loss of her dad and the breakdown of her 13-year marriage.

She went from a six-figure salary to losing everything. Shortly afterwards, her five-year-old son was diagnosed with autism and Mandy hit rock bottom and went to live in a council house with her two children and the family dogs.

It was meeting her second husband, Gary, that changed things as he encouraged her to create the career she had always craved – one driven by being an artist at her core. With his support, Mandy decided to put her entrepreneurial spirit into practice and felt drawn back to art, setting up Violet Aura Art to teach women how to build their self-confidence through owning their gift and developing the practical skills to profit from it.

She said: “I’m passionate about art and I always have been, but for many years I locked myself into the 9-5 world, successfully but miserably climbing the corporate retail ladder. Call it what you will; call it upbringing, call it background, call it sensible planning, whatever you want to call it, I was herded into something I felt frustrated by, denying who I really was.

“That’s no way to live life and thankfully, it’s never too late to make a change.

Mandy and Gary

Sadly Gary passed away last year but he remains her guiding light.

Mandy said: “When I met Gary he told me that he had a life limiting condition as he was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant so he didn’t know how long he had, but we were graced with seven amazing years.

“My husband inspired me to pick up a paint brush after many years of my talents lying dormant and I’m forever grateful to him. He was and still is my inspiration and I look forward to the moment I can open my art retreat and dedicate it to his memory.”

Mandy in her new home


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