Well, this year has certainly been less dramatic than the last one.
With Covid-19 restrictions still in place for most of 2021, my last review of the year featured remote learning via craft packs and online workshops.
So, it goes without saying that one of the highlights for me this year has been a return to in-person teaching under normal conditions.
A return to normal in-person teaching
I’ve taught almost 40 workshops, alongside my weekly classes, in 2022.
The majority of these have been at my regular venues, but some new opportunities opened up with the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the region.
I was commissioned by Northumberland Archives, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and Gateshead Libraries to run workshops inspired by the ancient manuscript.
Some of these took me out into the community, working with service users at North Tyneside Art Studio and Changing Places to help improve mental well-being.
The link between calligraphy and mental wellness is definitely something I want to explore further and I have a list of organisations I’d like to work with in 2023.
Welcoming the Lindisfarne Gospels back to the north east
Seeing the actual Lindisfarne Gospels has to be a highlight too.
My weekly classes both attended the exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in September, as part of our Inspired by Lindisfarne project.
We received a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England (ACE) to create work inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels.
As well as visiting the exhibition, we worked with paper artist Yvette Ja to learn bookbinding skills and drew Celtic knots with Carrie Dennison.
We then created individual artistic responses to what we had seen and learned for an exhibition that will tour South Shields and Sunderland next year.
Business growth and personal development
I took part in a couple of courses this year that gave me the confidence to apply for the ACE funding in the first place.
The first was Make the Most of South Tyneside, a series of workshops aimed at creatives in South Tyneside, run by Create North and the South Tyneside Cultural Partnership.
The second was Crafting Connections, run by Creative Fuse North East to help craftspeople and designer/makers in the region explore the innovative potential of their businesses.
Sunderland Culture also ran some excellent online sessions on applying for ACE funding.
I’ll be tapping into more help and support like this in the coming year I’m sure.
More heart-warming stories behind the commissions
I’ve had some lovely commissions this year too, marking all sorts of life events!
I’ve written honorary graduate certificates for the University of Sunderland and updated the book of honorary graduates for the University of Northumbria at Newcastle.
I’ve updated church memorial books and penned wedding stationery.
Some of the stand-out commissions include adding information to a memorial book for a retired US Air Force Surgeon, whose wife is originally from the UK.
Another was a pre-Christmas proposal taking place in New York.
Bring on 2023!
I haven’t made any grand resolutions for the coming year.
I’ve pared back my workshop commitments after a busy autumn/winter 2022, but there are still plenty of dates to choose from!
I’ll also be keeping an eye out for more business and personal development opportunities and looking to expand my network – my LinkedIn profile is in desperate need of an update!
But I’d be happy with more of the same over the next 12 months – and getting to my ninth business birthday in May!