Yesterday I had the pleasure and honour of hosting creative industry representatives from the British-Irish Council at the studio!
The British-Irish Council was founded in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, with the intention of promoting the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the peoples of the islands. The Council covers many areas of work, one of them being Creative Industries.
I was approached by the local Business Development Manager for Creative Industries to be part of the BIC study visit, and naturally I was thrilled to be selected as a successful example of a Manx creative business.
It was a real privilege to welcome the group into the yard and to chat to them about how my business has grown on the island in the last 18 months. It was all quite relaxed and I think we could have talked for hours!
Many thanks to Mike Reaney for asking me to be part of their island tour.
Want to hear something weird?
I'm scared of drawing.
Yeah, stupid, huh. Especially with being an artist and all. But it's true. I have been since I was about...15 I think. I get stage fright. I have all these wonderful ideas for designs and fantasize about drawing them up, but then if I have a bit of time to do it, I procrastinate out of fear that I'm crap at drawing.
Which, actually, I'm not. My brain is just a bit mean and tells me that I am.
Thankfully I cajoled myself into some sketchbook time this week, thoroughly enjoyed it and even went so far as to paint them too! I'm hoping to turn these into digital decals.
These new vases will be available at The Flower Studio on Bucks Road in Douglas, from now 'til Mother's Day! Big thanks to Heidi.
I've been intent on focus and productivity since my darling other half set off on a 3 week solo trip to Australia and New Zealand this week. It's a big experience for him, and I'm excited for him, but it's hard not to wish that I was there too! So, I'm making more than I normally might, in an effort to avoid daydreaming.
Silver linings and all: the studio is open on Saturdays again for a while!
I've always had a soft spot for the month of February. It probably has a lot to do with it being my birthday month, but it also signals the start of Spring. The weather may still be cold but the snowdrops will bloom and you can see traces of daffodils and wild garlic intrepidly bursting out of the earth.
This first week of February has been particularly beautiful. Blue skies, little wind (that's significant for us!) and even warm sunshine! Perfect walking and exploring weather.
It also felt like an especially productive week in the studio, with a big batch of work started for Manx National Heritage, and a photoshoot with Phil Kneen.
Back in December I nipped to Manchester for a weekend with my boyfriend. It was my first visit, and I'm smitten. The Northern Quarter is packed with tiny coffee shops, indie boutiques and music venues. I'm itching to go again!
My highlight was a trip to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. I've been following them online for a couple of years (even before I left Australia, I believe!), so it was a real thrill to finally visit in person.
In the heart of the Northern Quarter, the centre is home to 30 resident artists & makers, including potters, jewellers, painters and designers. Needless to say, I was in creative geek heaven. Along with the gorgeous makers' studios and shops, there is also a cafe, workshop room and small exhibition space! These guys really have their heads screwed on. Oh, even the building itself is beautiful - a converted Victorian market building, complete with many of its original and quirky fixtures and fittings! The place just gave me butterflies.
A few other Manchester recommendations...
Oxfam Original Shop: I picked up a 100% merino jumper here for just £15! They have a brilliant hand-picked selection of clothes, shoes and accessories for men and women.
Night and Day: Music venue that serves great food during the day (it's across the street from Oxfam Originals!)
Takk: an excellent Icelandic-inspired coffee house on the edge of the Northern Quarter. I rarely drink coffee as I'm VERY fussy with it, but their blend was delicious AND they know what a piccolo is.
Bonbon: A tiny hole-in-the-wall artisan chocolatier and café, making the very BEST hot chocolate that I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. It's even dairy-free?!
The Deaf Institute: Spread across 3 floors, with 3 bars, a kitchen & a roof terrace, this venue absolutely delighted me. We saw a Bill Ryder-Jones and Saint Saviour gig - the music hall is on the top floor, in what looks like a big attic room, complete with kitsch wallpaper and chandelier! After hearing the good people at BBC Radio 6 Music talk about the Deaf Institute for so long, it was seriously fun to be there. (The music was great too!)
Trof: Under the same ownership of The Deaf Institute, the Trof is another rambling venue with several floors of vintage and reclaimed decor. We only had breakfast, but it sounds like fun throughout the week, with open mic nights, quizzes and a Sunday roast!
Oooh...take me back...
Our tiny island was pelted by hailstones, sleet and snow for most of the last week. Somehow, miraculously (to me, at least), this tiny pink rose bloomed outside my studio. I spotted a few before Christmas, but the wind tore them apart before I could save one. I think that anything capable of flowering at this time of year is magical.
I'm working on some vases to display in a local florist's window for Mother's Day. My latest batch of clay is particularly soft, making tall items even harder to make! I took it a bit slower this week and feel quite pleased with the results...
Larger pots mean more space to paint! I'm testing out some new illustrations and reinventing existing ones.