Farewell to 2020

I thought it fitting at the end of this most momentous and eventful year to write a brief post to mark the close. What a year it has been!

I began in January trying to balance teaching, supporting my elderly, very unwell mother in a care home and working on what would be the best piece I had ever made, culminating in thirty five years of experience and learning. I remember it being a period of extreme stress and anxiety ending in a huge sense of achievement when I looked at the finished piece. I was able to enter it for the 2020 Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship and Design Awards in the Senior Enamellers and Enamel Painters category. I had no expectation of an award but I was so happy to have made something that I felt worthy to enter.

Magic Carpets Flying over the City of my Dreams Silver Award 2020 Goldsmiths’Craftsmanship & Design Awards

In February I was invited to the Award Ceremony at Goldsmiths Hall to receive an award although at that time I didn’t know what. I assumed Bronze which is the lowest and you cannot imagine my joy and excitement when my name was called and I heard I had won silver. This was definitely the high point of my year!

The year carried on and it became increasingly obvious that things were really serious. I managed to keep teaching both my Jewellery and Enamelling classes almost to the end of term, just missing the final class. It was a sad day packing up for the final time and not knowing when we would be able to return. It felt like the end of an era as I had taught the Jewellery class continuously for fifteen years, originally as part of the local Adult Education and then privately after I was made redundant by them and purchased all their tools and equipment. At the time of writing I don’t know when I will be able to return and I do not underestimate the extreme difficult in putting together a viable class from scratch. We will see but currently this feels a long time off although I have a small hope that maybe we may be able to run for the summer term 2021.

Overnight my entire life was cancelled with galleries closed, shows cancelled and classes shut down. I was also unable to visit my mother although in truth I had been avoiding that for a few weeks before because I was concerned that I might take the virus into the home. Both my son and I were regularly attending classes in a London so I had a very real fear that this was a strong possibility. Of course at that time I had no appreciation of how the situation would deteriorate.

The one bright side was that I was in Lockdown with my husband and son. The weather was mostly good so we were able to spend a lot of time working in separate areas of the garden, coming together for lunch on the patio. I discovered the benefits of shopping in my local farm shops as opposed to just the supermarket and my shopping habits have changed completely as a result. It is a much nicer experience, especially once they opened up a take away coffee stall meaning my son wanted to join me for the ‘outing’. You come to appreciate small things like time to chat in the car, beautiful scenery, music on the radio and a good cup of coffee at the end, not to mention delicious local food and easily the best bread I have ever tasted!

Life continued until the second week of April when I suddenly heard my mother was ill. She died the next day from covid. I don’t know what else to say about this except to say how grateful I was for all the support especially from husband and son plus Jyppy the dog of course.

The week before I had began a series of posts with weekly Staff Meetings by way of recording the situation and also trying to provide some light relief for readers and supporters. These followed the work by the Head of Security and Head of Emotional Support (dog), Chief Food Taster and Technical Officer (son), Head of Maintenance (husband) and Chair, Designer, Maker, Publicity, Website, Everything else, (yours truly). These continued until the end of the Lockdown.

The loss of my mother in the very distressing and horrible circumstances prompted a period of intense creativity for me and resulted in a lot of new work in new directions. It seems I always respond to upset by turning to my studio to work.

Many of these pieces above arose as a result of the ACJ invitation to submit work for an exhibition entitled Glasshouses. This led to a hugely inspirational vein of work that occupied me for much of the summer.

Wisley Botanical Gardens Necklace

There have been technical challenges to overcome too and I am pleased to note that I have made progress with my photography set up and photo editing which is making life easier. I have made videos for technical information and talking about my work. Oh the glamour of doing a voice over under the duvet in the bedroom, hoping the postman doesn’t come and set off the Head of Security! I now have an email list and have done my very first newsletter. All need more work to improve but I have begun! I even launched an online shop on my website. I have to be pleased when I actually stop to think because I have had to learn a lot of new skills! I have also been really focusing on further improving the quality and finish of my enamels and jewellery. For me I think this is the most important. The strive for perfection is continuous and never ending.

This year is one when I think we have all come to appreciate small things like lunch in the garden with family, a walk with friends, and visits to the gardens of National Trust and Wisley RHS. When we have been able to meet people it has been very special. I hope we will never again take these small things for granted. I am hugely grateful to all of my friends and family that have supported me at this time. Thank you.

Galleries were able to reopen briefly and it was good to be able to meet customers in person. I even managed to do one Christmas market which was a local event. It was really lovely to do but hugely tiring for me as a person with limited hearing coping with masks. My normal technique of supplying random answers until the other person stops looking confused didn’t work so well as a stall holder!

What now for 2021? Well I am working on a new special piece which has lots of new challenges and is another new development for me. I am really excited by this and so grateful to be able to work in my studio and have that to focus on each day. I look forward to coffee and more farm shop visits with my son whilst he looks for a job. I enjoy my daily walk with husband and dog and days out to National Trust gardens. I feel lucky to have my family with me and we all enjoy walks with the Head of Security. I really appreciate my followers, former students and of course everyone who has bought my work. Thank you for being with me and for reading my rambles. I wish you all the very best for 2021 and hope for a much better year for us all. Here is hoping that life returns to some semblance of normality soon and that we can continue to appreciate every small thing that improves our day.