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Getting Going Again

Last year was an amazing year in many ways. I do always try and pull a positive out of most situations, but it was hard going there at some points. Overall as a family we did okay, and work wise for me I am so shocked at those successes in 2020, given the year. SO, why then has it taken me so long to get going in 2021? I thought I'd just fly out of the door on January 1st! Instead it's definitely been more of an amble, with several long pauses. I actually started writing this on the 12th, its 3 days later, and that kind off sums up the stop and starts of 2021 so far.


There feels like there's a bit of a Corona wall that I'm facing. Getting over 2020 was the goal, and then 1st January 2021 was not the magic fresh start we'd been hoping for, so I need to orchestrate that myself. I've been reading, listening to some podcasts (Katherine May , Gabrielle Treanor and Talk Art amongst others) talking to other artist's and it seems I'm not alone, but I really want to overcome this. I need to clear my head to just get out into my workshop. Procrastination is necessary, and sometimes that down time is crucial in developing ideas, but now I need to get out there (in my studio). I know its really easy to run out of time at the end of a year with loads I want to do and deadlines building up, and this year I want to be more organised and strike a happy balance. So these are the steps I've taken to get back into work.....


1. CLEARING THE DESK - Chaos to Clear surfaces!

Sometimes, especially at the end of a project, my desk is so full of recycled materials, deconstructed objects and tools that I can't even find my favourite scissors - the ones that actually cut without being persuaded! So what usually starts as an unenthusiastic and begrudging clear up often gathers momentum and fuels a resort for the next collection of work..

Image - before and after a workshop clear


2. PLAYING

Part of clearing allows me to rediscover what I have in the workshop. If donations come in half way through making a body of work, I don't always have time to stop and add objects to stock. So when I do have time, new systems of categorising can appear ( I am a total geek about everything being in its place in an organised-chaos fashion). I've just rediscovered my Pot of Death - butterfly wings, dead bees and moths and ladybirds. The pot can be a bit smelly, but its stunning. One way around it not freaking me out so much is that I've now discarded the bodies, and just keep the wings, and I can handle the jar without shuddering so much. (Just a note, that all of these are found dead insects, or donated, or recycled from decorative objects that are no longer wanted. I NEVER buy them from farming businesses, or kill them).

Image - sorting feathers, textiles, butterfly wings


3. REVIEWING LAST YEARS SUCCESSES

There are several things that happened last year, as a direct result of Lockdown that were unexpected and momentous for my work. I used the Artist Support Pledge, an initiative by artist Matthew Burrows MBE to focus my time and create small pieces to sell on Instagram and then reinvest £200 for each £1000, in other artists work. I met SO many artists and new customers through this initiative, it really, really helped me feel connected.

I also applied to the Online shows and festivals of Tutton and Young, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, and Digital Craft Festival . To be selected was amazing, and again, the way these shows helped me continue to sell, connect with buyers and new audiences was huge.


4. SETTING GOALS

Last year I spent more time on thinking about my practice as a business than ever before. This was prompted by the endless amount of courses and business advice that have been available as a byproduct of the Lockdowns. I joined the WebinArt program, and took part in a Design Trust course through the ever supportive Design Nation. My husband bough me the the Design Trust planner for Christmas and the importance of setting goals for the next year has really struck a chord, especially as who knows what is going to happen and when, and so taking control of the things I can do has been really helpful. I have set a 90 day goal ( mainly around work I want to make - aiming for a new collection!) and have plans for my website, photography, social media and FAMILY!


5. TAKEN TIME and REFLECTING

Actually, I hadn't really considered this until I'd reached this point - (I'm about to post this and go into my workshop), but the last two weeks have all been about reflecting, digesting and consideration. Instead of beating myself up for not doing, I really have been! I am now so inspired to start making, with all the admin-esque stuff done, I am going to sink into creating and making with a clear head and a confidence that was lacking a couple of weeks ago.


This has been slightly more of a ramble than I planned, but I'm gonna leave it, so I can check back on my progress and maybe next year I will remember that reflecting and thinking is not procrastination but essential!


Image - feather bases of wall pendants and Always There Even When You Are Gone


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Image © michaela mcmillan 2020    |     Photography by Paul Lapsley 

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