I have had to draw a lot of strength from many sources this last year and who knew that one of them would be a wild weed called rosebay willowherb! This lamp was the last thing I made before the fire, the last plant I studied deeply and on the morning of the fire it wasn't long before I realised the significance of that. You see it's also called fireweed, named so because it thrives after a fire. It became my power flower.
A few weeks after the fire me and Sarah (who also lost her studio) went out filming in the fireweed. Well Sarah filmed and I drew and watched the seeds floating off into the evening air.
When the plants go to seed they are unruly and messy just like the upheaval we were facing. Having lost the studio, everything seemed so up in the air. We were visiting prospective places every day - the shop unit, the business park, the mill space, the old garage, the office and even the dusty old Sunday school. Everyday we were trying on these new futures for size. What about this one? We were like the seeds, not knowing where we would land. Would it be among friends? In fertile soil? Or would we get caught in a spider web or in somebody's hand as they made a wish? Either way every plant represented thousands of possibilities and it felt good to be floating on the breeze together.
I included some of Sarah's gorgeous photos in my Something I have noticed journal. which I wrote in the dark, cold days of January and February while I was waiting for my surgery. It was SO healing, re-living the year, celebrating the high's and tending to the lows. This journal is all about how nature pulled me through, I poured my heart and soul into it. There's heartbreak and also joy and it feels very special to me when people read it.
Some months after all our ponderings about floating seeds, one of them took root in Topland Country Business Park in Mytholmroyd and some weeks later (thanks to the WONDERFUL support from my amazing community crowd funder) I was able to get get back up and running. It was a huge relief to be back in business but I never quite felt right there. It suited my business needs in terms of space, practicality, storage and helpful folk with fork lift trucks but it just felt a long way from home, too big, cold and fluorescent and far away from the heart of my community. I missed my dear studio buddies, Julia, Sarah, Suzi and Olive and our shared lunches and inspiring chats. I missed my short walk to work that left me free to take the longer meandering wanders around the valley that are so important to my work. I longed for the golden light and the window film shadows. I wanted to be back in the middle of town, I missed our post office so much and being able to pop to the market to buy a cinnamon bun on a Thursday - ‘bun day’ was a long time studio tradition. I had created this new space quickly and with urgency and I’d done the best I could but I really missed being in a space that had gently evolved with my love and attention over a long period of time and one that I knew I wanted to stay in.
Well my friends I have news! I have being dying to talk about it for AGES but I was so scared it wasn't going to happen. In September I'm going to be moving my studio back to the centre of Hebden Bridge, right in between Northlight Studios and Brooklyn Studios at the end of Valley Road.
It's going to be in an old mechanics garage which, at the time we looked round was in a right old state, but the owners, who are architects have been doing it up for us. The big wooden doors you see in this photo will be my windows and there will be a new floors and ceilings and walls.
I'm going to be sharing the space with a group of lovely printmakers who will have their individual studio spaces there and also run a community print space where people will be able to use some beautiful old print presses that they have been donated. It will be lovely to be around other artists again. We look happy don't we? That's because WE ARE!
My space will look a little bit like this! I can't wait to make it mine, to put some wallpaper up and some window film on those south facing windows. Hello again window film shadows!
THIS wallpaper will be the first on the walls!
While I have been waiting for this new space to get built I have been mostly working at home on new designs. This has suited me well while I recovered from my op and gradually got my energy back. I've loved working with these plants; fireweed, hogweed, knapweed and ragwort and even introducing some creatures. This design will remind me of this time, new life and growth.
I've called it Wild Edge and it has begun it's production journey. I will be going to the factory on the 20th September for colour mixing day and I'm excited because Sarah is coming with me. She is going to film the colouring process for our fireweed film. The wallpaper will be printed on the 5th October.
I've also been designing a window film to go with it and this should be ready to order by tomorrow if all goes to plan!