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Optimism for the future

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post. Things got busy after Collect and in the run up to Craftworks in May. It was a logistically complicated show to do, having to hire a van and drive around the country to pick up furniture from the Hub in Sleaford then head to London. Design-Nation put on a good show and we had some amazing work as part of it. Being the first year of that show it was a bit of an unknown for us and there were teething problems with the show itself. It’s been a learning curve so far this year.

Since then there have been a number of things to organise for the autumn and beyond with group stands and showcases to coordinate for Decorex, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Made London plus the application process for next years Collect and the beginning of thinking about DN’s presence at the Association of Cultural Enterprises Conference next March. Sometimes my head feels like it's spinning in all directions and things take a while to fall into place. It’s always a relief when they do. 

The film making element of my work has dropped off but at some level I’m not missing it at the moment. My new role has given me more purpose and connections and I am reassessing what I want to do going forward.

One of the main things I’ve always enjoyed is visiting shows and makers' studios, understanding what people are up to and how things are going. People trust me and are honest with me. At the moment things are tricky for lots of people especially financially and I’m conscious of not wanting to put people in positions that aren’t going to benefit them. I want to see people do well with their practices. 

It’s been great to get out and about recently to catch up with makers and friends. I’ve visited various exhibitions and shows including Beyond Boundaries at the Footprint Gallery in Jackfield Shropshire where Zoë Whiteside showed some of her ceramic animal sculptures. Whilst visiting the Hay Festival I caught up with my friend Jo Davies who was exhibiting at the Chair Gallery in Hay. I unfortunately missed this year's Craft Festival. 

I’ve also been to the Birmingham School of Jewellery Industry Awards night invited by my friend and lecturer Rebecca Skeels. It was great to catch up with her and Zoe Hillyard from the fashion and textile department plus bump into Mari Thomas who was awarding prizes to students having studied there herself. I caught up with Deirdre and Emma from Craftspace too, a great Midlands based organisation who are putting together the Made in the Middle exhibition.  It was also great to meet Rebecca from Benchpeg who gave an inspiring speech to the students and there were so many parallels between her journey and mine. The last point she made was to be nice, which I wholeheartedly agree with. 

This was shortly followed by visiting Ceramic Wales at Bodrhyddan Hall in north Wales where I caught up with several makers including Lucy Baxendale, Julie Fewster, Jill Riley, Jack Durling and Charlotte Morrison. I did make a couple of purchases, too tempting! 

At the end of June I visited Cambridge on a hot sunny day and looked around the city visiting  several galleries including Cambridge Contemporary Arts and Cambridge Contemporary Crafts both of which had on show the work of many people I know. The main reason for my visit though was to go to my friend Katharina Klug’s studio warming party. She has built a fantastic space in her garden and even I was envious as I don’t need a studio but I would quite happily live in it! It was nice to catch up with her and meet her family who were over from Austria, there was good cake! It was also lovely to see Emma Lacey there too. 

On my way back from Cambridge I stopped off at glass artist friend Adam Hussain’s in Coventry as he was taking part in Warwickshire Open Studios. It was great to catch up with him and hear about his wedding plans. 

This weekend I went down to London for the day to visit the Institute of Making’s Festival of Stuff with the awesome Kira Phoenix K’inan. It was at their new Stratford campus on the Olympic park in a massive new building next to the big red helter skelter. We tried liquid nitrogen ice cream, controlled a space rover replica, rode a Brompton bike and watched various demos. It was great to catch up with the team there who I first did some filming work for maybe ten years ago (which is scary!) on a project called Light Touch Matters, an EU research project. We also ran a couple of Making Matters events with them where we got makers to come and have a play day. I’m hoping something like that could happen again, fingers crossed. 

This week I’m visiting Blowfish Gallery in Stourbridge and at the weekend I’ll be heading up to Sheffield to visit my friend Stella and go to Goldsmiths North and Selected Spaces where loads of people I know will be showing. I’m looking forward to that!

I know a lot of people in the Craft sector and my new role has connected me with lots more makers and organisations. But the sector is struggling at the moment financially and my hours have gone down. I’m hopeful now with a change of government things will improve and optimism can return, but it will no doubt take time.

I currently have spare capacity and have been keeping an eye out for other part time work that plays to my strengths. There have been several roles advertised however I don’t think they are quite right for me. In an ideal world if some sort of relationship, networking coordination role existed where I’d get paid to connect and support makers and work with organisations and galleries I think that is the direction I’d like to go in. Just putting it out there! :)

Considering I was a very quiet and shy child and find social situations awkward I do manage to be able to connect with people and connect makers together, which has surprised me. I’m just authentically me, I’m not trying to pretend to be something I’m not and I think that is why I am trusted by makers. I understand the precarious self employed life and why it's hard not to take things personally when your work is an extension of yourself. People say some weird shit to makers at shows! 

Anyway, I’ll see where things go and if anyone spots anything which might be suitable or if you are looking for someone in that kind of role, do let me know. I just want to make things happen, support makers and help get them out there! 

Until next time, mind how you go 🧡

7 July 24

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