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2015 - A monumental year!

Updated: May 1, 2018

Migrated over from my old site as it gives a good round-up/overview.

I've read a host of blogs this week apologising for posting achievements from 2015.  I'm not apologising, I work blooming hard and its great to think back over some of the wonderful things that happened in the last 12 months and take stock: not in a boastful way, its more about jogging my memory so I can recapture a moment with a smile.

2015 was monumentous for me in ways I could never have expected...let me try and sum it all up...

January/February- I was expecting a slow start to the year: I had a knee operation that meant I kept my diary empty for a few months.  That was the 6th of January, on the 7th ran a competition to win one of my Online Silk Screen Printing workshops and R&A Collaborations launched the film they had made of my creative process.  Woah I thought 'I'm still bandaged up, I can't cope with this...' turned out to be great timing & I had a great distraction from any operational aches and pains.

Your response to the film 'Establishing a Rhythm' has been marvellous [I can heartily recommend R&A Collaborations as fantastic folk to work with] and your support/well wishes got be through the long dark month of January - I am very grateful.

Thankfully it was only my knee that was injured and I could still type and teach online: In January & February I ran Developing Sketchbooks and Drawing for Textiles Online workshops with students world wide taking advantage of the internet to push forward their creativity :-)

Now Mark and I like to dream, we like to plan and scheme of owning a house abroad, usually fuelled by a bottle of wine or two...we have a couple of friends who sold up recently and bought themselves an amazing place in France which they have renovated and run as a B&B [La Maison à côté de l'Église] Inspirational!

This, coupled with endless hours convalescing in front of 'Place in the Sun' on telly and the thought that life is fleeting, we both pushed on though with our mad capped plans...

By the end of January we were signed up for Italian lessons and constant updates from Rightmove Overseas!

March/April - Early March brought the fantastic news that 2 stitched pieces had been selected for viewing at the Royal Academy Summer Show. Woo hoo!  I am steadily getting back into the studio having already trained myself to use my left leg/foot at the sewing machine - I needed to prepare for my first few shows of the year: Foxlowe Arts Centre and Reading Contemporary Art Fair.

On the 11th March Mark and I took a quick trip out to Italy to view a few of the houses we had seen online - one in particular had our attention and we wondered if it would live up to our expectations - do you know what? It did! We put in a slightly cheeky offer and it was accepted!! La Vecchia Scuola [the old school] is a blank canvas for us to put our mark on, near a village and on the edge of the Majella national park.

Physio on my knee was going well in March and I was able to drive again.  Mobile again I started running masterclasses at Janome HQ near Stockport, South of Manchester - oh I love it there! Its sewing machine heaven: a purpose built sewing/teaching space.  I can focus on teaching, you can focus on learning and enjoying a creative day with a bunch of like minded folk.

May/June- We signed for our bolt hole in Italy on the 11th May: a day filled with adrenaline and excitement not to mention much waiting about in the notary's offices.  We have 3 little olive trees and wild boar [cinghiale] that dig up the garden! We are still pinching ourselves :-)

Flippin heck! We did it - we really did it!

I had a wonderful time exhibiting and demonstrating our making skills with Tone Von Krogh Ceramicsat The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, Devon: I met with numerous lovely visitors and galleries there - there was Artenax who now stock my hand painted and stitched lampshades and Harlequin Gallery,who have a brought collection of my artwork.  Katie Honnor from was an absolute star in Devon and stood in for me on my stand when I needed help.

Ellis had a collection of AS level exams and Callum came back from his first year at Newcastle university [I think he needed to come home to give his liver a break!!]  I took Callum to the new house to task him with a spot of painting...ummm..... a slow process!

July/August- The beginning of July saw reams of visitors attending Holmfirth Artweek.  We opened the house again as a gallery and invited Artists and makers to exhibit.  I love the whole event: a percentage of sales goes to Macmillan Cancer relief; we get our home in tip top shape and the house is buzzing all week....I had a few days to recover and I trekked down to Oxford in a big white van to Art in Action...July is great for events...I love this one too! I was exhibiting next to Jane Cox Ceramics & we had such a laugh...another few days to recover, I packed in some multi vitamins and packed again for the Netherlands where I was teaching at Hawar and also in Amsterdam: Mark joined me in Amsterdam for my birthday & we had a super duper time in the Dutch capital.

Boo hiss, those pesky folk at the Royal Academy couldn't quite open their minds wide enough to accept textile pieces this year - never mind: you win some, you lose some, I'll give it another shot next year.

Ellis got some fabulous results for her AS levels: 100% in Art - really is that possible??? She's planning to do Civil Engineering at University [here's the thing...she loves being creative but doesn't want to make it career as she feels it might take the joy out of it]

After a few injuries the year before, Callum was invited to start training with Yorkshire U20's Rugby team and continues to play for the university side.

Our summer family holiday destination was a done deal!  We had a kitchen to build and plenty of paint to splash about in Italy!!! We did also make sure the beach was still intact!!

September/October- Back to college and University plus a further instalment of Developing Sketchbooks online. Mark & I started a new term of Italian lessons - we are far from star pupils, but we're trying and enjoying the new experience.  For my own teaching & tutoring, being a student myself is incredibly beneficial as I can always connect with the particular concerns of learner.

Then I had to brace myself for a marathon of shows: 6 in total without much breathing space in between: The Art Market, York; Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair; Hereford Contemporary Craft Fair; Harley Art Market; Holmfirth Art Market & Landmark Arts Fair - I guess I didn't expect to be excepted for them all and I was aware the first half of the year was quiet: note to self... 6 shows in a seasons is TOO MANY!!

But heck, I survived it and had some great times with friends at events, I met loads of fabulous visitors and customers - A massive THANK YOU to everybody who came out in support. xxx

Instead of cluttering our hallway with all the boxes of stock as they returned home I set up Mountfield Hallway Gallery...Mark says I should consider this for the rest of the house on a permanent basis...our hall has never been so clear and tidy!!

In Italy we had a bit of heating installed which was very welcome in the chilly October evenings - the landscape in Abruzzo isn't all that different from here in Yorkshire but villages are on top of hills rather than in Yorkshire valleys.  Expect some Italian inspired work in the future :-)

November/December- November saw the last of my Janome masterclasses for the year & the 2016 programme is already out and some classes are already half full: wowsers!!!!  Over the buffet lunch we always have a nice chat - I make cake and over the year I have been challenged by an array of dietary requirements - I have tried and mastered gluten free, dairy free, vegan confectionary and amazed myself at the success - students always request the recipes which are duly shared but the suggestion is that I start to also post these on my blog!

My little sister Kirstie came over to the UK from New Zealand through December and we had a family trip to an old haunt : Well next the Sea we spent all our summer holidays there as kids and its still a wonderful location.

I worked up to the wire on Christmas Eve to get the last of the orders and commissions completed [I do still have 2 big pieces of work to crack on with though!] but its a treat spending time in the studio.  With a couple of fan heaters on and its soon toasty in the winter months - over the year I've had a few rejigs in the space: improving the storage, using space in the eves; its perfectly streamlined and allows me to easily jump between painting lampshades or scarves to drawing or sewing.

That gap between Christmas and the New Year is always wonderful - real down time & this year we took time to explore the local ski slopes in Abruzzo.  Callum pointed out this morning that Christmas is one of the shorter holidays with an awful lot to cram in - purchasing, festivities, visitations etc....before you know it the New Year is upon us.

Phew  - this was a mammoth post for me. It was a mammoth year - its been good to recall elements of it & I haven't really touched on developments in my creativity : I know that 2016 is all about a big push forward in my artwork, when my studio focus is creating work to exhibit at the Knitting and Stitching shows in the autumn.

2015 is a year our family will never forget - the impact of it will be seen through the rest of our lives as we aim to get that work/live balance in check and spend quality time with family and friends for years to come.  Its not beyond the realms of possibility that 'The Old School' may make come back as there is the potential of running summer schools/retreats there.  I have already got a sewing machine out there so watch this space...and those summer schools are happening and driving in their second year :-)

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