Working the way I do, I am always looking forward to the next exhibition, planning the next project, writing funding proposals and workshop outlines for months and even years ahead, I rarely get the opportunity to look back, consider what has happened and think about how to build on the successes and challenges of the last year. This winter I made sure I did. In December I took a week’s retreat in quiet, hillside cottage in Staffordshire to think, plan, reflect and watch the clouds. Since then life has been a whirlwind so it is now mid February before I’ve had chance to write a proper review of the year.
2016 started with an ending… the last couple of weeks of my solo exhibition Narrative Threads at the National Centre for Craft & Design which opened in November 2015 after 11 months artists residency at the gallery. It was hard to say goodbye to the exhibition but the ending gave me chance to reflect on it for my funding review and the visitor comments made it all worthwhile.
Wonderfully intriguing exhibition. Wonderfully presented.
A very moving emotive exhibition.
Fascinating execution of some clever conceptual ideas.
Selected works from the exhibition have been shown in Salisbury, Unit Twelve, Leicester and Northern Ireland as well as the Knitting & Stitching Shows. I now have a confirmed gallery to show the entire exhibition in 2019 and potentially other shows in 2018 too.
Hot on the heels of the exhibition completion I started Urban Growth, a new project with Interlace. Bethany and I ran an exciting, energetic and exhausting youth project to create a new permanent concrete and textile artwork in my former studio building Makers’ Yard. I worked with two local charities to fund and manage the project, making important and valuable connections with local communities.
The early part of the year also saw me moving out of Makers’ Yard studios and return to working at home, although not until I had a loft refit completed to store all my materials and teaching resources! I no longer organise my own workshops in Leicester and have reverted back to freelance teaching in locations across the country. 2016 was a quiet teaching year for me, I only travelled as far as West Dean College, Leeds University, Shrewsbury, Wakefield, Solihull, Bletchley Park and Dublin (to name a few).
Bethany and I continued to work really hard throughout the year with Interlace exhibitions at the Knitting & Stitching Shows in London, Harrogate and Dublin as well as new work selected for Made in the Middle. MitM opened in December and our huge new installation piece Halo won a prize which was a great end to a very intensive year for our collaboration.
Interlace. Photo by Ashley Brown
It was a good year for prizes as I also won the Fine Art Quilt Masters competition at the Festival of Quilts in August with a piece from the Criminal Quilts collection originally made for my Narrative Threads exhibition. The recognition for this prize has been great, giving me lots of press coverage and masses of teaching requests which is making sure 2017 is very busy indeed!
The prize money has meant I have been able to invest in creative and professional development including retreats, residencies, training and research visits. I celebrated my win with two glorious weeks in Cornwall before the frenetic few months of the Knitting and Stitching Shows.
Winter has been quieter, a conscious decision. I had a lot of teaching until the end of November but since then have taken some time out to spend on developing my own work and seemingly constant funding applications, including a successful Arts Council bid to work with Gillian McFarland throughout this year as joint artists in residence at Leicester University Genetics Department which means 2017 is getting off to an exciting and busy start!