Tag Archives: creative

The Dreaded CV , Going it Alone, International Women’s Day

The Dreaded CV – sometimes you just have to rest

‘Sometimes you just have to rest’ by Miki Rogers Digital illustration using watery colours and pencil sets of naked plus size woman by a stream with her hand in the water
‘Sometimes you just have to rest’ digital illustration Miki Rogers

In October 2021 Mr R and I finally succumbed to CoronaVirus. Officially we’d both managed to avoid it, even though at the very beginning of the pandemic I’d been ill enough to need paramedics, with all the symptoms of CV except a temperature. At that time your temp was a main test criteria, before the heady days of Lateral flow tests and PCRs.

I’d dreaded getting Covid after my lovely friend, Zetland Radio presenter and star of The Mighty Redcar Julie Donaldson succumbed, and sadly died on Halloween 2020. I’d messaged her everyday after she went into ICU, and it was, and still is a huge shock and loss that she’s no longer with us, her wicked sense of humour, boundless support for local communities and fab taste in music though will remain.

We had the jabs. Having an Autoimmune illness, I was first at the gate, and I truly believe, bearing in mind how ill we both were, I wouldn’t have survived. I was beginning to think, I definitely had it early doors so had some kind of natural immunity. ….Nope.

I’d recently gone it alone after leaving my job of 8+ years (more of that in a bit) and – feeling a renewed sense of independence, when a dear friend had a close family member die , I decided support her at the funeral – driving alone to Kent and booking a last-minute AirBNB. The funeral was a sad and celebratory affair, and my friend – a bar owner, battled through the wake which they’d held at the bar, but was clearly ill. From the stresses of her dog having had a terrible accident, her Mum dying and a car crash in quick succession, we thought.

In reality she’d contracted Corona Virus – from her brother’s Girlfriend who was supporting her before the funeral, and so I and all my friends who were at the funeral got it too, then my husband, and I managed to pass it onto my daughter’s partner’s parents, a source of shame for me at the time as they’d been totally isolating up to the point we all had dinner together.

Luckily we all got through it, after a good 10 days of both being really ill, a couple of takeaways and a doorstop delivery from Morrisons, Chris now totally over it, me left with a very odd sense of taste and recovering from chronic fatigue on top of my normal chronic fatigue. I think we had a close call. As I write, what seems like the end of an unsavoury and sad period of time overshadowed by the terrible atrocities in Ukraine.

Going it Alone – back to Freelance

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed this website having had an overhaul and name change from Ruby & Blue to mikirogers.co.uk. – I’ve gone back to working freelance …

I’d left community curator job in September, and felt unsure of the future but was dedicated to making it alone. My disabilities had deteriorated, and I’d been diagnosed with Hypermobile Joint Syndrome – an aspect of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a confirmation of Fibromyalgia connected to the illness and widespread Osteoarthritis. Clearly all of these illnesses had been there all along, and I’d started having treatment and odd diagnoses aged 8, but the combo of CV on me both physically and mentally, with the added treat of menopause had sent my illnesses into the stratosphere.

When I returned to work in Spring 2020 after being furloughed, my place of work and work conditions had changed, and even my job was about to change.

I’d been working for the previous few of years mainly just getting on with my own projects and reporting in. It was an exciting time full of possibilities, and I had a great oral history / music project to work on with the amazingly talented Patrick Dineen, funded by Great Place. and with images by my fabulously talented photographer friend Kev Howard taken at the very doorsteps I was dropping off recording equipment for interviewees. I found myself working in the project between my home and these doorsteps, Md online, which I found suited me well.

Through these oral history interviews about their experiences of living in and around the formerly thriving Steel town of Redcar, Patrick produced ‘Not in a room of our own’ a soaring piece punctuated by these voices. Listen here:

https://soundcloud.com/patric123/not-in-a-room-on-our-own-the-social-life-of-steel

From there, the changes brought my mental health and neurodivergence into sharp focus. The lack of directly supporting communities I had taken hard and what was on offer was neither a replacement for this, nor something I could work with. My working relationship deteriorated, and after being encouraged to do so by many supportive friends and colleagues, I called it a day on the job I had previously adored and had much pride in.

Around this time I met the wonderful Catherine ’Katnipp’ Kay, an illustration superstar with her fabulous Katnipp illustration, online vlogging and digital empire, all run from a couple of floors above my former place of work on the Seafront in Redcar.

I introduced her to illustrator and educator friend Frances Moffatt, who was in the process of setting up the inspiringly wonderful School of Illustration with partner Nick Moffatt, and I’ve been reaping the benefits of our support and friendship together as well as attending workshops set up by the SoI. Fran and Cat have helped me to work on my own Illustration practice and supported me in the changes I needed to make to go freelance with my work.

I was also contacted by the creative and community powerhouse that is Donna Freeney of Pimms and Needles, and have been providing tea blending workshop with the fabulous women who attend, plus there’s been work on a couple of top secret projects.
One I was asked to help put a bid in for and project manage, the other my own project working with some of our bigger cultural powerhouses and our communities here in Teesside. What an exciting time!

International Women’s Day – my take

International Women’s Day 2022 is Tuesday 8th March here in the UK, so I thought I’d start with some of my illustrations of women and nonbinary people I know or admire, starting with the fabulous three at the top:

Edith- my dear friend and sister, owner of refill shop and eco hub The Cut Back and eco warrior woman in her own right, alongside Edith’s eco sidekick, my very own singing squirrel Sadie Joan, and my co-director supporting Edith, Saltburn Solidarity Foodbank Doyenne, and my other sister from another mister, Lynn JP.

Closely following are Dolly, Greta and Frida … not much needed to say about these three, but if you don’t know about Dolly Parton’s work for communities, go have a look at the Dolly Parton Foundation.

Row three is all about those wonderful people I’ve met online, and now consider friends….

Fantastic body positive maker, beauty practitioner and designer Lou Worrell to the left : https://instagram.com/_loulala and queen of all things colour and pattern, Siobhan Murphy to the right who, alongside the whole crew kept me entertained and enthralled during lockdown on Interior Design masters. I’ve loved watching these two go from strength to strength. https://instagram.com/interiorcurve

They flank an image straight out of my brainbox which I’ve now attributed to glorious body positive LGBTQ+ skater Courtney Shove aka @fat_girl_has_moxy on Insta.

You’ll see I’ve included non binary people, and my approach to Femimism is an inclusive one. The issues we face are the same for cis women, trans women and non binary people who either present as fem or deal with women’s health issues, and I’ve run the Community Craftivism group Women of The Resistance Teesside For the past few years on this premise.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias supporting equal pay for women across the world. I’ll be joining by doing some work for Break The Bias, but also wanted to support Ukraine, so you’ll see me illustrate my take on work by Ukranian Folk Artist Maria Prymachenko. The museum dedicated to her work in Ukraine was, in the last few days destroyed by Russian forces.

Drawing for a cause, Back to Work, Sea Swimming

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 projects@teesvalleyarts.org.uk

Sea Swimming

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.

Lights, Camera, MELA !

Find my Mela Workshops HERE

A couple of years ago I was asked by Middlesbrough Council to work with another artist and with loads of groups, making 100 (I kid you not) hula hoop sized textile Mandalas to be displayed around the park at Middlesbrough Mela. No mean feat.

 

This year the amazing Middlesbrough Mela  – this celebration of Asian culture, of music, taste, colour  and sound could not happen in its normal home of Albert Park- at the centre of the town – because of Covid restrictions… so what is a group of creatives to do? Take the Mela online!

 

Making films isn’t entirely new to me, but making films in my workroom at the back of the house in between the dog barking, people delivering and an assortment of DIY going on outside certainly was a new experience.

We began our journey with a meeting of the fellow artists on the project .. Leader Lisa and JR from the council had assembled a fantastic group of creatives both local and from further afield.

The project sits around an online and physical children’s book, which in the tradition of the Mela would bring in a story that picks up on Asian tales, written by Umar Butt, who also translated  it into a range of languages, and beautifully illustrated by Becki Harper. It tells the saga of Sara the Tortoise who loses her home and all her friends, picking up on themes of migration and asylum but in a totally child-friendly way.

After some great Zoom meetings (who knew Zoom would be such a thing) and loads of watsapp discussions between all the artists and project leaders we came up with a range of activities;  Dance , mask making,  printmaking, windsock creating, yoga and banjo making on the website, alongside my two workshops (see the workshops at the end..)

And off we went – Filming our little instructions as we went – I bought a tiny light rig and phone holder to stand above my table to do mine, attached to a wooden box. A real Heath Robinson affair. After lots of head-scratching download / upload fun, all the film clips went to film-maker Paul to create his magic. Meanwhile we artists and a willing small socially distanced gang of helpers were making 100 free kits to go with each film – that’s A LOT of free kits!

On top of this, I’ve started making my own films, the first one can be found here: 

So here they are .. I’m really chuffed with my films and amazed by the others, the story and Umar’s storytelling too.  Get yourself to the Mela website and fill your own world with colour and magic…

Wrapped Mandala ( using the basis of god-s eye wrapped sticks)

https://youtu.be/53OhjN9zbcQMela Granny Mandala (a mandala based on granny squares)

 

insta: @boromela website : https://middlesbroughmela.co.uk/lets-create/

 

Rosie Lea and Weekly Wonders

Gosh! It has been a while since I posted on here, but SO much has happened! Will tell you more at the end, as I do a little recap of the year!

Let’s start with a little Rosy Lea. As you know if you follow my of my rose-tea-1920-1080-6003blog, my love of all things tea has led to me starting my own Ruby and Blue Tea brand, with a nice little range for sale in Maison Belle, and soon to be for sale in two cafes, one in Redcar and one in Chaloner Street, Guisborough. My latest tea for the tasting, I have actually called ‘Rosie Lea’ after the Cockney rhyming slang for tea. It’s a gorgeous blend of rose buds and petals from Tuscany, which can be drunk as a tea on it’s own or added to your favourite leaf tea to make your own blend. I’ll very soon be able to give you the whole lowdown on the available teas on my dedicated tea page, but for now, I’ve added all the details of this delightful and refreshing tea. To go with, I’ll be making some rose inspired makes for the shop, and will have pics as soon as they’re done.

10898230_558608530942062_53106454900584494_nOver the years, I’ve done lots of classes of all types with all ages, and I particularly enjoy the classes I’ve run at Leven Crafts, because I love the space and the ladies on the shop, Ruth and Lorna are two of the most delightful and supportive people I have met. Happily I can report that from February 2014, I’ll now be running a weekly class, which will run Tuesday evenings in school term-time from 7- 9, and my great friend Geraldine will be doing them with me too. Here’s the poster with all the info and further details of exactly what’s running can be found here. tuesday classes flier

Creativity by the seaside..

Whenever you open up a new set of workshops..

..no matter how successful your previous ones have been , there’s always that trepidation that no-one will turn up.. always, but especially when those workshops are in a new format and at a new venue . This is  what keeps you on your toes. So, to the new art workshops I have planned with the lovely G; we had bookings before we had even advertised , which is always a great and it’s been lovely to see the support we’ve been given so far. If you want to know more about workshops, click here.

The new venue just happens to be on the Seafront on the North East coast at Redcar, and after a recent ‘creative retreat’ by the sea, where I got to rekindle my love Redcar-content-headerof water-colour, I already have ideas to include a water-colour class for the next round of workshops, and happily have people interested in taking the workshops up… That view is too good to waste!

CREATIVE BRAIN…Untitled picture

What is a surprise is when you find out on where on the internet your work or your workshops have appeared. .. This week there was a little link to our workshops on the blog ‘Creative Brain’ .Lots of articles about creativity, with a decidedly intelligent twist..

I only discovered our link because of a Twitter post , but it’s great to see other people appreciating what you’re up to and as I have a real fascination with how the brain works , having done my thesis of ‘creative thinking in underachieving boys’ this blog was of great interest..

If you’re interested in the ways of the brain, a great book to read is ‘Frames of Mind’ by Howard Gardner, all about multiple intelligences and how we’re all intelligent, but in different ways…(one of the many reasons I love creativity, is it’s accessible by everyone) I’ll leave you with that and with my favourite quote:

fish