Our Story

How The Lamp Post Studio Began

By Heidi Franklin (Founder)

As a child I was raised for the first eight years of my life in a small village in Tanzania, East Africa. Our village sat on a plateau and was huddled around a healthcare community where my father worked as an engineer, sourcing power, water and infrastructure for the hospital and its equipment. My social worker mother immersed herself in the local culture and its rhythms of life. In our village, there was a strong sense of community and creativity. The Tanzanian people exuded a natural joy and weave the arts into everyday life, surrounding themselves with bright colours and bold patterns, song and dance. 

I spent my teenage years in Melbourne, Australia, during which time I was surrounded by many people struggling with a variety of wellbeing and self-confidence challenges including; anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, abuse and identity crisis. 

At the age of eighteen I travelled back to Tanzania with my parents, where my mother was involved in an AIDS pandemic project seeking to provide housing for orphans and widows. 

During this trip, I witnessed an African community where many struggle to have their basic needs met; such as food, shelter, healthcare and sanitation. A place where struggle is tangible and yet joy and creativity abound. A place where singing, dancing and visual arts are prevalent in everyday life.

As I reflected and contrasted these two starkly different ‘worlds’ it became clear that my mission was to bring wellbeing, healing and joy through community and arts – wherever in the world I may be.

After returning from my trip to Tanzania, I began regularly spending time with a gifted art-therapist, life-coach and spiritual director, named Bronwyn Checkley. Bronwyn provided a safe space for me to share my inner world; to heal from past losses, to learn healthier ways of thinking and being in relationships and to develop insights that would align me with my values and beliefs, leading to my vocation. 

Through group work, Bronwyn connected me to a small community who have become my dear friends, a like-minded circle of trust with whom I have mutually supported and been supported by for more than a decade. Both in group work and individual sessions, Bronwyn has journeyed alongside me with deep skill, care and attention; listening and responding and supporting me to listen to my own inner wisdom. This process has led me to live and love more authentically and connect more deeply with myself, others and the world around me. 

It wasn’t until I began exploring my Celtic heritage that I learned another name for the kind of deep work Bronwyn offered me: Anam Cara, meaning ‘soul friend’ or ‘soul friendship’. Anam Cara is a traditional Irish phrase. The word friendship in this context describes a compassionate and loyal mentor or guide, described by writer Christine Valters Paintner as:

“…A person to whom you can confide all of the inner struggles, someone who will help you find your path… There is a sense of genuine warmth and intimacy in this relationship and a deep respect for the other’s wisdom as a source of blessing “

– Christine Valters Paintner ‘The Souls Slow Ripening’ 2018

The Celtic tradition of seeking out an Anam Cara was not specifically for those suffering or facing challenges, having a ‘soul friend’ was valued and sought out by anyone who desired to live a more meaningful and intentional life. For men and women, young and old, from all walks of life, people would connect with an Anam Cara to deepen their relationship with themselves, others, the divine and the world around them. 

Although I believe it is healthy for an Aman Cara or ‘therapeutic relationship’ to ebb and flow like the tides with the seasons, I also know from my own experience that this kind of deep work of connecting with oneself, in the presence of another, holds immense value in every season.

I resonate deeply with the sentiment that wellbeing and development practices are for us ALL. Not only for the difficult times when we are seeking out healing and wholeness but also for when we are well and dreaming, with the capacity to celebrate and be championed as we reach for the stars. 

Journeying with a genuine and skilled art therapist and life coach has brought insight and clarity to my experiences, challenges, hopes and dreams, and changed my thinking and understanding in ways that continually enrich my life. 

There is a quality to having a person in your life, who is removed from your everyday contexts, someone who is there just for you, with all their attention and goodwill focused solely on you, your life, those in your life, your values and longings, and the gift you are to the world – supporting you to know yourself, be yourself and explore what is possible. Someone who listens deeply, engages deeply and supports you to succeed.

Having a trusted person who holds space for you to fall in love with the gift of life, with all its goodness and pain, sorrow and joy THIS changes everything – THIS is what we seek to offer through The Lamp Post Studio.

Perhaps our paths will cross one day. 

Heidi Franklin

“We all need other people to invite, amplify and help us discern our inner teacher’s voice

— Parker Palmer, Author, Educator & Activist