The photo is of the delicious meal of our own home grown potatoes which we sat down to eat in the garden at the weekend after some hard work at the allotment. As a consequence of the amazing weather over the past few months, hot sunny days but with plenty of rain as well, our little plot has gone mad. I had neglected it recently and I was really rather overwhelmed and daunted by the state it was in when I took some friends visiting from Scotland to see it recently. However a good watering and weeding made a big difference to both the look of the place and to my conscience and the crop of potatoes from just two of the many potato plants we have growing away in one of the raised beds, made all the labour worth while. Neither my husband or I have ever grown potatoes before and we were whooping with delight as we dug potato after potato from the soil. They tasted so delicious, I have vowed never to buy shop bought potatoes again.
I haven’t posted on the blog for quite a while as for both myself and my husband it’s been a really busy and demanding few months. We’ve had difficult decisions to make and new challenges to rise to but we have got through each stage and the risks we have taken seem to have paid off. Both of us for quite different reasons decided we no longer wanted to work in the separate educational establishments we have worked at for many years. I have become so busy with my own printmaking, with printmaking workshops and with lots of local community activities over the past year that I just don’t have enough time to dedicate to teaching art and textiles in secondary school anymore. My husband has decided to leave a school taken over by people who have a very different idea about what education in school should be and he has thankfully found a really good job in a school much more in tune with his way of thinking. So after months of uncertainty his courage has paid off and we have a happy ending.
As we enjoy this wonderful summer it is a time to de-clutter our minds as well as the house and reflect back on the first 6 months of the year. Here are a few highlights.
The smiling ladies in the photo are a lovely group from the Humberside region who came for a ‘Birthday Workshop’ in June. One of the group Emma, emailed me originally with a simple enquiry as to whether I could run a workshop for a few friends. After quite a lot of emailing backwards and forwards we eventually agreed on a ‘Creative Printmaking Workshop for five people including the Birthday girl.
The fact it was a ‘Birthday Workshop’ gave me an excuse to have a birthday cake and I was able to ask a highly recommended local mum/cake baker if she could bake a cake for the event. I was grateful for a casual comment from another mum on the walk back from school, when she suggested a glass of something bubbly would go down well and on the workshop itself the moment when the cake and 6 glasses were brought into the room was a fun finale to a really great workshop.
Another highlight of June was taking part in Sheffield Design Week. Myself and three other Sheffield Printmakers were asked to join forces with graphics and illustration students at Sheffield Hallam University for a ‘5 day challenge’. We were given the theme ‘Process’, and the image above is one I particularly like and is a detail of my ‘Apple Tree’ wood and linocut print with another of my prints superimposed onto it, simple! Selected images were included in the exhibition at the end of the week which was in a container outside Sheffield Station along with the other artists work. For the challenge I worked with David Andrew Hill who is an MA student studying Illustration and we decided to teach each other a skill we use in making our work that the other was unfamiliar or unconfident with. I had recently upgraded my laptop and was using the latest Adobe photoshop with I was unfamiliar with so I received a tutorial in this, while David was introduced to wood-cut printing. We spent a day working on our respective newly learned ‘processes’ of making images together in my studio and then continued on our own using the new skills we had acquired. My final work was based on manipulating images of my prints and experimenting with different processes of layering and editing images.
The final highlight I will mention here and in some ways best of all was the Street Market ‘Party’ I was jointly responsible for organising in Hillsborough Park on 5th July. The event was timed to coincide with the Tour de France passing by the fringes of Hillsborough during it’s Yorkshire Stage. Nothing had been organised to celebrate the fact and as I have also been working at promoting the creative talent of Hillsborough through S6Platform – a community interest group – I jointly set up with neighbours, it felt like the perfect opportunity to celebrate the talent of Hillsborough at the same time. I got together with Karen Sherwood of Cupola Gallery and over a few months we organised the event which was a steep learning curve for me as I had never done anything like this before. My side of things included encouraging local creative people to be involved, rallying volunteers to help, social media promotion, talking to local people, shops and businesses about the event and providing banners and flyers and a rather hastily painted poster for the event. The day itself dawned cool, grey and misty and we gathered at 8am to begin filling balloons with helium, putting up bunting and putting pitch numbers on trees in the park. By 10am the park was filling up with cars arriving and stalls being erected. The grey mist had cleared and the sun was shining. Here are some photos of the event taken by the talented Nynke Wierda.
There have been many other high points to the first half of this year that I could have written about. Open Up Sheffield, Le Tour, The Printing Sheffield Exhibition. But perhaps they are for another blog entry. Anyway, I am off to work on a new woodcut! I’ll be back soon to talk about all the exciting things lined up for the Autumn. I can’t wait!