Find my cards here
Drawing for a cause
One of the issues facing people throughout the pandemic has been the sense of isolation many of us have had to cope with.
I’ll talk about getting back to work later, but for me it’s been a really tough nut to crack, even though I had my husband at home when he wasn’t working as a key worker, and my son living with us, as just as lockdown was announced he was between homes and then without work as a chef.
Personally, I lost my purpose for a time – furloughed from the job I love, unable to work with communities, missing my daughter who had moved in with her then boyfriend’s family to keep me safe, and unable to do markets. This time last year, I was about to do a March market then had very little until a rare market in December. I filled my time making scrubs for friends working on the Covid ward of a local hospital, setting up a community group locally, and later running a Christmas Window project in homes around the town. In-between I worked on the Middlesbrough Mela mandala project and shared my love of crochet, teaching people online whenever the opportunity arose.
For people who have had to shield like my parents, this period will I’m sure, go down as one with never-ending days and realising the simple things are those we miss the most. Hugs, holding a hand, watching a band, having endless cuppas and chats in real time, laughing together.
Saltburn Community Response, a group set up in our neighbouring town of Saltburn-by-the-sea wanted to tackle these issues while making some much needed funds for the group.
The group have been outstanding in the way they have worked to help people during this time, working alongside Saltburn Solidarity Foodbank, setting up community cupboards and running trails in the town that people can safely follow while out on their walks during lockdown.
The group commissioned me to design three postcards, each one a positive message of hope, which could be sold with some of the profits going to their cause, and I was happy to oblige. I’d been teaching myself to use the Procreate app do develop my digital drawing and designs over this time on my Ipad and withe help of Lisa Bardot and her amazing online workshops – one of the benefits of endless days without work
I used this do design the three postcards which I had printed locally by Teesprint in Middlesbrough. the timing for this was perfect, with sunnier days on the way and the opening of my friend Tracy’s Eco Hub and Zero Waste shop The CutBack gave me a bricks and mortar outlet in Saltburn ( they also sell my teas and all manner of eco wonderfulness)
Each card benefits the Community Response group, and it feels great to add something positive and help out at the same time.
I’m selling online too, through my ETSY shop and you can find that here. I hope you like them!
Back to Work
It’s so great to be back at work – at Tees Valley Arts
We’ve been slowly working away from home working towards being back in our space at The Palace Hub in Redcar and preparing for the opening of our Honest Shop and Gallery.
Ongoing lockdowns and changes to rules for both retail and cultural venues mean plans we had in place for an opening earlier in the year with a new show and the fab Honest Shop have been a movable feast, but we’re looking forward to a safe Mid-May opening.
In the meantime, I’ve been working with the hugely talented composer, producer and lyricist, Liverpool’s Patrick Dineen on an Oral History project – talking to the communities around the Steelworks and people who live in and visit Redcar, about their experiences of the town and what it has and had to offer.
We’ve had to tackle the thorny issue of interviewing people in lockdown., which we’ve managed with the use of Zoom (which we all should have taken out shares in during early 2020!) and using field recorders (also made by a company called Zoom, but unconnected as far as I know) – so I’ve spent much of the last couple of moths at people’s doorsteps.
The Honest shop is our latest big project – taking its lead from the Honest Shop project set up by Grizedale Arts who have been supporting us, our shop echoes other similar projects being run across the world from Japan to Australia.
Our shop will sell items made and grown by local hobby and community makers, and the stock will change on an ongoing basis depending on what people can provide. So far we have links to a whole range of local community groups including the Barefoot Kitchen who will bring orchard produce, and all manner of food based packs and items to purchase.
We still have space for community groups interested in selling craft items handmade from natural materials – email me for details firstname.lastname@example.org
In September I was lucky to be able to go Sea Swimming with the Saltburn Sea Tribe – in the North Sea just off our coast here, buoyed (see what I did there) by the idea that it might be good for my worsening Fibromyalgia and Arthritis.
My first foray into the surf was admittedly a freezing one and we had headed down long after dawn, the temperature in the car reading at 6 degrees centigrade.. cold by anyone’s terms. Initially the bitterly cold water on my warmest body parts was a real shock, but after getting my shoulders in and swimming along it was a huge thrill to be in the water. It was a gorgeous day, the sun still low in the sky with just us, the birds and what lived beneath the waves as company.
The serenity of the calm sea in the distance, alongside the awareness of its obvious power in the breakers and the feeling of insignificance and grounding in such a huge body of water was really overwhelming and quite surprising.. I’d been swimming as a kid, but as someone who has mobility problems, the utter freedom of moving in the huge sea, the former rusting Steel Works in the distance was not lost on me. It was magical.
Never one to do things by halves I was wearing a 1950s style swimsuit, retro bathing cap and swim shoes. As we emerged from the water to wrap up tight in woolen hats, huge towelling robes, drinking hot tea and coffee, I knew the experience had been a positive one. I felt elated and my pain at least for a time after the swim was reduced.
Back in the car park, I met a photographer friend, Ian Crockett who showed me some photos he’d taken of us, saying he wouldn’t be publishing them unless he got us to agree. He was particularly please with a closeup he had got of a swimmer in a red costume – the closeup made through use of a really long lens making the image appear to show a lone swimmer in front of the Steel Works ( which are in fact a few miles up the coast) … In a red costume .. me!
I’m hoping to be back in the briny this spring.. maybe I’ll have a new swimming cap but I’ll still be wearing my red costume.
And here it is. ( thank you Ian for allowing me have this image) So proud of myself.