Friday, 29 December 2017

Reviews and Resolutions

Mull of Galloway, my birthday weekend away this year

It's that time again to reflect and think about the year that's been and the one that's to come. I've just re-read my post from last year and it's interesting reading how I felt then compared to now and also what I remembered writing compared to what I did write. It was a positive post and after looking back on it I think that overall I've carried that positivity through 2017 and more or less stuck to my aims/resolutions.

Drawings from Inktober 2017

Drawings from Inktober 2017

Drawings from Inktober 2017

One of my aims was to prioritise my personal creativity and I think I've done that pretty well this year. I've taken part in several creative challenges over on Instagram including a 100 Days challenge (do a creative thing each day for 100 days), Inktober (an ink drawing everyday in October, following a series of prompts) and Make it Christmas (a different creative textile challenge each day in November.) These challenges help keep the focus on creativity, offer new perspectives (sometimes I hated the prompts but they made me think!) and give a good reason to do something everyday. I also found they encouraged me to try new things and helped me not to get stuck in a creative rut. Although I found it hard to keep going through the challenges I also found I missed them when I'd finished and it's very satisfying looking back and seeing the project as a whole. Yet another benefit is that it brings you into contact with other creative people and can spark some really interesting exchanges. I'm going to start off 2018 with another challenge, the 64 Million Artists creative challenge for January. Why not join me?

Felted vessel, made as a birthday present for a friend

Feathers collected on holiday

Beautiful big skies on Westray

I also had a good creative year with my personal practice, showing my work in an exhibition with Daniel Cooper entitled 'Sky High' at Farfiled Mill this autumn and being selected for the 'Draw the Line' exhibition at Surface Gallery, Nottigham in April. I've been experimenting with different media and developing ideas and techniques, including natural dyeing and paper making (inspired by running some paper making workshops for Prism Arts.) My exhibition 'As the Crow Flies' at RSPB Geltsdale which ended in the early part of this year was an important 'kickstarter' for me and helped give me the confidence I needed to move my work forward. I've also been writing about my work more here on my blog as I've got more confident and I've found that very satisfying and useful for reflection. I'm going to be exhibiting at RSPB Geltsdale again in 2018, this time with my partner Nick Robinson who'll be sharing some of his poems. I'm really looking forward to our show 'Wingspan' which will open on 25th February. I've started a newsletter too this year so if you want to keep up to date with my news and exhibitions the subscription link is just under my profile.

Natural Dyeing: Solar Dye jars

Exhibition poster

Work in progress

Like all years 2017 has had it's highs and lows; the last three months have been quite stressful and even more busy than usual. I've taken on a new role as Lead Visual Artist at Prism Arts which is really exciting and I'm enjoying it but it is also quite challenging and different, it's taking me a while to adjust! It also means that I'm 'properly' employed 4 days a week now, squeezing my already limited personal practice time even further. However, as with all things it's a question of balance and I'm confident that in 2018 I'll manage to tweak the balance a bit more effectively. I've run lots of interesting workshops this year including sessions at RSPB Geltsdale and the lovely Eden Workshop in Plumpton. I really love running workshops so part of my balancing act is ensuring I have time to run them and enjoy them.

Bird portraits workshop at RSPB Geltsdale

Machine Embroidery workshop at The Eden Workshop

Paper making workshop for Prism Arts Studio Theatre West Coast group

In last years post I wrote about the increasing importance of the natural world to my personal and professional life. This is something I've continued to recognise, embrace and enjoy. We had a great week up in the Orkney Isles in May which resulted in several pieces of work and which is still inspiring me, along with our other holidays and days out in the wilds. My garden has been a riot of colour this year and using the plants I've grown to dye with has been a very rewarding experience and something I want to continue to work with.

The river Caldew, near our house

Tufted ducks at Talkin Tarn

Beautiful moss at the Wood of Cree

My second aim for 2017 was to live a more local, kinder life. After the madness of 2016 politics I felt I had to withdraw from that world as it made me feel so useless, ineffective and upset. I decided to focus my energies on the things that I could change and on making sure my actions were positive. I haven't done anything especially amazing but I've tried to support local businesses, be conscious about what I'm buying and where/how it was produced and to above all be kind and considerate to everyone I've dealt with (I've definitely not managed that every time but I'm trying!) This is something I believe in very strongly and will continue to pursue; if we all make an effort to be thoughtful, considerate and kind we can create truly caring and inspiring communities. With that thought, I'd like to wish you all a very happy, peaceful, kind and productive New Year!

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