Category Archives: Art

Our Last Hope

You may think that this is me playing at doing something I fancy but it really is our last hope.

The crowdfunding page has been up for 4 days and not a single donation ūüė• so here are the links for those of you that would like to help – if you can afford a few pounds, that would be great, if not, please re-post; very many thanks in advance and thanks to those that have already posted the original appeal on FB:

Seven and a half years ago, after recovering from a major depressive episode and other personal issues, I moved 250 miles South, away from the people and places that I knew and loved. I had no money and many of my friends all over the world bought pieces of my art to help me to buy things that I would need. and three close friends made the actual move possible. ¬†With only a weeks’ notice, no savings¬†and coming into a job that didn’t pay enough to get a mortgage; my¬†friends pitched in and helped me to rent a house and move – I couldn’t have done it without them!

Since then, I have made a lot of lovely new friends, some of whom are now like family, and met my husband¬†and over the years, we worked hard to repay debts that had been brought into the relationship. We lived a simple lifestyle¬†but just as we’d got to the point where things were finally getting settled and straight, I was made redundant. ¬†I took it as a chance to recover from the stresses of the job and to focus on my studies and it turned out to be a fantastic blessing because after four years of marriage and not being able to conceive, I discovered that I was pregnant!

Now, I was earning good money in the job that I had been made redundant from so I had encouraged my hubby to take a risk and accept a one year contract working for a youth charity that meant a great deal to him.  He was finally doing a job that he enjoyed, was intellectually stimulated at work and giving something back so he was extremely happy but before our beautiful baby-girl was born, his contract came to an end.

I applied for short-term contracts (up to six months) in my field but found that I was unable to secure a position once I told potential employers that I was pregnant Рeven after being told that the job was mine.  I decided to change direction and do something more rewarding and was able to secure a part-time position as a youth worker.  It pays very little but it was enough to keep us from sinking and despite not yet being fully recovered from developing HELLP Syndrome towards the end of the pregnancy, I am still applying for suitable roles within my field as a quality manager.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want to leave my baby-girl with a childminder and I certainly don’t¬†want to go back into a highly stressful career again but I will do whatever is necessary for my family – who wouldn’t?

When my hubby’s contract was coming to an end, one of the organisations that he volunteers with¬†encouraged him to apply for a full-time position and he is now eight months into the recruitment process and just awaiting a start date. ¬†In the meantime, he is doing temp work on less than ¬£250 per week, our savings have disappeared and it could be another 6 months before he gets a start date. ¬†He applies for jobs that pay more – although he realises that it wouldn’t really be fair to start a job and then push off when the start date comes but he is only thinking of the family – but there isn’t much locally that is suitable.

To add insult to injury, our landlady has given us notice on the house. ¬†We have 7 weeks to vacate the property. ¬†With my hubby in temp work, me on maternity leave from a very poorly paid part-time job (and not entitled to statutory maternity pay), we haven’t a hope of privately renting and certainly no chance of buying somewhere. ¬†That means that we are facing homelessness with temporary, emergency accommodation whilst we wait for social housing.

Now, I had been toying with the idea of starting a business for a long time and realised that our current circumstances could well be fate giving me a kick up the backside so I wrote the business plan and have set up the crowdfunding page etc.  My next job is to write some funding bids.  I have to be working or we will have to re-home the puppy, the cat, the chickens and our other furries before we are made homeless Рthat is how desperate our situation is now.

My weekly shop costs about ¬£30 and it is subsidised with vegetables and bread from a food bank, as well as my Mum giving us¬†food to bring home when we visit. ¬†Those visits have been paid for by car boot sales and over the next few weeks, selling things that I have made at Christmas fairs. ¬†If it hadn’t been for the generosity of family and friends, we wouldn’t have even had enough clothes for our baby-girl.

I could spend the next seven weeks breaking my back to do the house and garden up to try to get our deposit back. ¬†We did a lot of big jobs at our own expense over the years – things that were the landlord’s responsibility but they never had the money and as some of you may remember, left us for 8 weeks with an electrical circuit that wasn’t earthed when we moved in;¬†with no heating or hot water for over 3 weeks a few years ago through January and February and more recently, took over 8 weeks to have a collapsed bathroom roof and ceiling repaired. ¬†Incidentally, they wouldn’t pay for the full job to be done and left us with damp, mouldy walls and rotten skirting board so I stripped the bathroom, let it dry and re-decorated just so that it was safe for baby. ¬†With that in mind, I expect that it would be best to just clean it and spend my energies starting my own business and sorting out where we are going to live.

What is left of our savings will pay for a deposit and move but if I can’t get the funding in to start my business, we’ll be homeless within a month anyway so it really is critical that I get the funding in to start the business.

The business will not only be a way for me to sell my own pieces¬†and to raise the profile of other artists and craftspeople but we will also be able to provide workshops in order to share our skills and knowledge with people who want to learn. ¬†Most importantly, 25% of those workshop spaces will be free to individuals who are in some way disadvantaged and would not normally have the opportunity. ¬†I certainly won’t get rich from it.

Getting back on track

Since being made redundant, it has been difficult getting my routine right.

The first obstacle was the soul-destroying and time-consuming hours¬†of job seeking and applying for positions that I knew the recruiters wouldn’t look twice at me for as¬†demanded by the Job Centre when I signed on in order to make sure that my¬†stamp (National Insurance) continued to be paid.

Just as I was regaining control of my life, had started working part time and we were a good way through the application process to become foster parents, I discovered that I am pregnant and found myself being violently ill 7/8 times a day, extremely fatigued and on an emotional roller-coaster caused by my raging hormones.

Consequently, my plans for my studies, the house and the garden were all thrown out of the window. ¬† This was particularly difficult to deal with because I have always been extremely well-organised. ¬†I’ve had to be. ¬†In order to build rabbit hutches adn chicken coops, keep on top of the housework, do the gardening, make time for me, make time for us, have time for leisure and pleasure and make time for friends on top of working more than full-time; I have always made the most of my time and energy.

Of course¬†not being able to do anything for so much of the time¬†meant that even on days when I was feeling almost human, the tasks around me were so overwhelming that I didn’t get any of them done. ¬†I’m lucky though because although I have been feeling somewhat isolated and as if my life was spiralling out of control, this hasn’t led to a major depressive episode.

I am feeling a lot better now and only tend to be sick once a day most of the time and have even started to make progress with some of the tasks in the house.

Unfortunately, I am dangerously close to the completion deadline for the whole of the first module of my BA (Hons) in Creative Arts¬†¬†with 2 assignments left to do and at the start of this week, had to complete 4 assignments for my Nutrition and Health qualification. ¬†I realise¬†that the latter is not as important as the degree, partly because I started it because of our ambitions to become foster parents which has been put on hold for a year or so and partly because it is a Level 2 qualification and as such, doesn’t have much impact on my future career prospects. ¬†That said, I decided to focus on that one first for several reasons: firstly, I had 4 assignments to complete¬†as opposed to the¬†2 outstanding on my degree – one of which is almost finished; secondly, I knew that if I knuckled down, I could probably manage an assignment every 2-3¬†days, whereas the degree work would take a few weeks; and lastly because the sense of achievement that I would get from completing (and hopefully passing!) the course would spur me on with the degree.

I really enjoyed studying for my Foundation Diploma in Art, Design and Media a few years ago, despite my experience with the internal verifier at the end. ¬†I had a great tutor who was extremely supportive and I loved the structure of the course, within which I was able to experiment and find my voice. ¬†The degree has so far been very difficult because I have felt that the tutor has not bothered to read the written work that I have submitted – perhaps because it isn’t mandatory but I write it in support of my work and to give him an insight into how and why I have produced the body of work that I have for each assignment – so I really need to feel some sense of achievement from completing the level 2 course to spur me on!

April,¬†May & June will see me focussing on the house in preparation for baby’s arrival in July. ¬†I have no plan of action at present and don’t intend to worry about it until after I’ve finished my studies. ¬†After that, it ill all be about baby and the next module of my degree which will thankfully bring a new tutor.

I submitted the third of the four assignments for my level 2 in Nutrition and Health this afternoon so I just have to wait for the feedback on that before I crack on with the last one – happy days.

 

 

 

The journey continues

It has been a while I know but here I am!

I didn’t place in the talent show, fourth place but to be honest, I was so nervous because it was my first and pleased that I was there at all. ¬†The star judge was Lisa Scott-Lee¬†from Steps!** Correction, Tina Barrett from S Club 7 (Mr PinQ corrected me – I was never a fan of either, can you tell?)

Anyhoo, a few weeks later, I attended an Executive workshop at the National Career Service.  It was really good and offered some great tips to getting back into work or getting the job that you want.  They are actually a charity and the service that they provide is superb Рif ever you need help getting the right job, I highly recommend looking at what the NCS has to offer.

I signed off early in November, I’ll pay my own National Insurance. ¬†I needed to get control of my life back. ¬†Job searching and applying for things that I am sifted out of as “over-qualified” or, “well, she won’t stay long” for 5 hours every day was soul destroying.

I cracked on and started making. ¬†I made a stock of¬†SLS free soaps, SLS and SLES free argan oil shampoos, strawberry jam, lemon curd, onion marmalade, redcurrant jelly, chilly jelly, chilly jam and scented candles. ¬†Mr PinQ and I made our way to the Christmas Fair to sell our wares and when I left the stall to sing with the Theatre Company, he’d sold loads. ¬†It turns out that my sweet Irish boy is great at selling the products that I am great at making so I left him to it.

I have been offered a job as a Youth Worker, despite my lack of experience, starting in the New Year for 8 hours a week which suits me fine. ¬†I also have three possible short-term contracts in Quality coming up. ¬†Whilst I don’t want to go back to being a Quality Manager permanently, I’ll be happy to do a bit of contract work.

The degree isn’t really moving. ¬†I’m feeling pretty demotivated to be honest. ¬†The tutor didn’t seem to read my written work initially. ¬†There is no mandatory written work but I like to do a piece on my research, development and outcome as was required at Diploma level because if nothing else, it’s a damn good record of the creative process for me. ¬†He makes comments that if he’d read what I had written, he would have seen in my text and realised that I was already aware of. ¬†In assignment 1, I wrote about 10 pages on the methods that I had used for creating some glass sculptures because although the finished pieces weren’t what you would consider to be “stacked construction, the methods were – such as my crow and kiln carved pieces below:

The latter being a continuation of a theme, a new way to represent the sea as first seen in my original sculpture at Diploma:

The Wash

He actually stated that the pieces weren’t obviously “stacked construction” and that I should write up the method so that the observer would understand that.

This is why I don’t really believe that he reads what I spend hours writing and it has left me really flat and uninspired – to the point where I didn’t even bother to put together a photo album of pieces from my last assignment:

It was “modelling in clay and plaster” and I started thinking about the Escher staircases and M√∂bius strips and ended up with a development of an impossible circle from clay to a plaster carving and some accompanying drawings. ¬†I also made a couple of Unicorns horns from white sparkly Fimo which began as a legend that I created for the granddaughter of a dear friend a year ago. ¬†I sent one to her via her Grandma with a letter explaining that my Unicorn rescued a baby one who had broken his leg and that whilst under our care, had lost his baby horn (like you lost your baby teeth) and that it needed to be kept safe.

I submitted photos of the Unicorn’s horns and a copy of the letter with a full explanation of the legend and all that my tutor had to say was that I had taken the form of a Unicorn’s horn too literally.

Funny that. ¬†The little girl that it was intended for would not have grasped the point to an abstract of a Unicorn’s horn so a literal representation was really the only way to go.

Currently working on “Casting in Plaster” which started with an exercise in casting rubbish and hasn’t really grabbed me but I have eventually come up with a bit of a post apocalypse/Mad Max sort of theme. ¬†Pics to follow when complete.

ttfn

xx

 

 

Days Off

I try to always book my leave around Bank Holidays, I know that I still get the same amount of leave regardless but a week at each Bank Holiday makes it feel like I am having more full weeks off in a year.¬† I don’t think that I have ever been more ready for time off than I was on Maundy Thursday, 2 April 2015.¬† It was an early finish, 11:30 ish and I had the afternoon all planned out, including a nap.¬† The best laid plans… The Engines BU were working until 16:00 but all of the Team were contracted for the early finish so I stayed in the office just in case.¬† It did have a bonus though because the IS guys had the time to sort out the VPN on my work laptop.¬† Consequently, I didn’t go to rehearsal that night because I was too exhausted so the first part of my leave didn’t quite go to plan.

After a fabulously refreshing 14 hour sleep (inorite!) my break began.¬† Unusually for me, I managed to get loads of rest.¬† Don’t get me wrong, there were some mad flurries of activity but at last, I found myself able to relax.¬† I know that sounds daft but for so long, I have either spent holidays getting things done or just collapsing that this break has been a real treat.

Don’t get me wrong, Mr PinQ and I have done absolutely loads in the 12 days that we’ve been off but I feel great.¬† So great in fact that after a fab day in Bath and Brizzle yesterday before ice-skating, I was shattered this morning and really didn’t want to go back to work.

I extended my holiday by a day!

After getting up at about 10:15, we had a major housework day.¬† Despite it knackering me to the point of a three hour sleep in the early evening and being shattered now, I’m glad that we did, the kitchen and bathroom are gleaming.¬† It is more obvious there because they were the two rooms that got trashed during our gardening marathon.

We spent three and a half back-breaking days digging up plants, weeding, re-landscaping, fencing (with wood and bamboo screen, not foils), laying anti-weed matting, re-planting, potting and covering the garden with bark chippings.  It looks beautiful.

I decided to cut back the bamboo.¬† Little did I know!¬† Oh yes, I am well aware of how tough it can be when it is well established but after ruining a garden fork and spade on the first day, I certainly wasn’t expecting to then ruin a second fork ten minutes after getting it home!¬† So. a few text messages later and we had a chainsaw on loan.¬† It failed.¬† Yes, that’s right, I said that it had failed.

I decided to try to undermine the bamboo’s foundations with a chisel and a lump hammer and it tried to fight back.¬† Battle ensued.

Over three nights, I hammered and chiseled away at the roots and got over three quarters of the way through it.¬† Where the spade, two forks and a chainsaw failed, my trusty lump hammer and one of my old, cheap chisels prevailed – although I think that i t is fair to say that bits of me still hurt, seven days later!¬† On the fourth day, whilst I was at the hairdresser’s, Mr PinQ borrowed a grub axe from the gravedigger that lives across the road and got out the final root-ball.

Boom.

20150409-Finished Garden (1) 20150409-Finished Garden (4)

Now that the garden is all pretty, we re getting four new chooks on Saturday!  Charlotte, Dorothy, Evelyn and Florence РYAY!

Incidentally, I will now be doing Gold at ice-skating on Monday nights – DOUBLE YAY!

 

How f***ing rude!

Day one at the Glass Hub meant a lot of time slightly stooped over the bench, cutting glass etc and as a consequence, my back was a little sore yesterday.

There were two other people on the course, neither of which could be bothered to turn up at a decent time yesterday.  Whilst I was waiting, I was stretching.  When the woman from Hong Kong with the superiority complex arrived, she told me that it would help if I lost weight.

I’ll give you a moment to process that.

The architect was struggling to get his piece done on time so to help him out, I measured out two litres of water for his plaster mix.¬† He decided that I am not competent (all of my years in a laboratory were clearly wasted), poured the water away and measured it out again.¬†¬† WTF?!?!¬† Then he couldn’t de-mould his refractory mould, so I helped and washed his boards so that Helga and KT didn’t have to.¬† He couldn’t be bothered to say thank you.

I went outside and phoned Mr PinQ before I punched someone.

Other than that, the weekend was fabulous.¬† I stayed at the Wellhouse Manor Hotel in Melksham again in my old room and the staff remembered me form last year!¬† One asked if I was doing my glass thing again.¬† That is incredible customer service, it is 12 months and one week since my last stay and my hair is completely different – hell, I’ve worked with guys who didn’t recognise me at the Christmas do because I had lippy on!

I brought home a pot-melt and some sawn billets to make a stacked construction piece with and I have four pieces in the kiln, including a kiln carved piece that was my special bit – I wasn’t booked on “Controlling Flow” but on “Kiln Carving” but there hadn’t been enough take-up for that weekend so I got a little extra.¬† The other two managed two pieces each.¬† I rather expected to only come away with one or two this time because I didn’t have a specific piece in mind, I just wanted to go with it (I won’t go for the obvious pun here!).

I had a mega lie-in this morning.  It felt great having an extra day off work.  I love my job but I was badly in need of a little break so I had Friday, Monday and I have this coming Friday off.

I took H to have her cast off on Friday morning, we did lunch, walked the greyhounds and then I toddled up to Melksham for my lushy little treat. and a weekend of creativity.¬† I was introduced by KT as “Our resident artist”.¬† How lovely is that?¬† When I was leaving last night, I asked Helga if it would be okay to fill my travel mug for the drive home, she seemed shocked as she said, “Of course, you don’t have to ask.¬† This is your home!”¬† I love those ladies so much.¬† It is really nice to be greeted with a warm smile, hug and a kiss and made to feel like you’re at home, rather than just a customer.¬† If that weren’t enough, they have given me a real love for glass as a sculptural material and every time I go, I learn so much from them.¬† They are devoted to education in glass and they are so passionate about their work that you can’t help but fall in love with it.¬† The beauty of glass work is that there is something for everyone, fusing, slumping, kiln carving, kiln casting, blowing and lamp work.¬† You don’t have to be able to do everything but you can have a go.¬† Treat yourself to a Christmas workshop if you fancy a taster at lamp-work, blowing and fusing, it’s great fun!

This afternoon, I clad the old chicken coop & run with ship-lap in the pouring rain to keep the guinea-girls dry.¬† The rain is relentless today and I felt really guilty for not doing it when the weather was nice!¬† I gave myself just enough time to change into my skating gear because I was soaked to the skin but I’ve just checked on them ans they are all dry and toasty on the ground floor, not just in the coop – and that’s before the new floor goes in!

I passed my bronze tonight!¬† Go me!¬† Silver will be a challenge because of the back cross-rolls but I am stepping through it nicely and did some more cherry-flips tonight so it might not take me as long as I’m expecting.

Sleeps now, I’m a tired bear.¬† See you all on the morrow xx

Squeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m so excited!

One of the competitions that I entered was the Parker Harris V&A “Inspired by” competition.

I had an email today from the Morley Gallery in London:


CONGRATULATIONS YOUR WORK HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR
Inspired by… to be shown at Morley Gallery London
Thank you so much for putting forward your work for the Inspired by… exhibition. We had an unprecedented response to the competition this year, with over 440 submissions, and it was with great difficulty that the judges made their final selection for the exhibition.
‚Äú..it’s been fascinating – very high calibre of entries this year..‚ÄĚ
Gill Saunders V & A Curator and ‘Inspired By‘ Judge
 

“ It was a very difficult job to make a shortlist as they were such varied, interesting works!
As always there were lots of surprising responses to the collection which is great to see –
and reinforces how inspiring our museum can be. “

Alice Sage Curator Museum of Childhood
 

‚ÄúIt’s always very hard to choose a number when so much hard work has gone into the work…‚ÄĚ
Adrian Deakes V & A Curator and ‘Inspired By‘ Judge

 

I submitted three and it doesn’t specify which so it may well be all of them!¬† I have emailed them to clarify.

I am SO excited!

Did I say that already?

These were the photos that I submitted:

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Who’s up for a trip to Londontown late May/early June?