Review of the Year – 2021

It’s been a bit of a year to review, to say the least!

We started 2021 in lockdown and it seems rules and restrictions will be with us for a while yet as we continue to navigate Covid-19.

Despite the devastating impact the pandemic has had on businesses of all shapes and sizes, I have managed to find some silver linings from the last 12 months.

It goes without saying that I have been grateful for every single commission I have received over the last year, no matter how big or small. It’s been particularly lovely to see weddings finally go ahead after the chaos and upset of last year.

creative calligraphy

Being paired with a calligrabuddy

The European Pointed Pen Collective (EPPC) appealed for people to join its calligrabuddy scheme in 2021 to encourage and inspire practice and I was matched with Joanne Taylor from Jo Taylor Calligraphy. You can read more about our envelope exchanges here.

Producing craft packs for The Cultural Spring

I sent out calligraphy craft packs on behalf of The Cultural Spring as part of both its Spring and #CreativeAutumn workshop programmes, so people could build up their calligraphy skills at home via activities sent out once a month for three months. The Cultural Spring has been praised for its work during lockdown and has just received funding to secure it work in Sunderland for a further three years. It will continue to work in South Tyneside through its charity arm.

I’ve also produced packs for The Shipley Art Gallery as part of its Spring Wellness project and Art Diamonds at Gateshead Libraries in the last year.

workshop packs

Online learning with The European Pointed Pen Collective

It started with Copperplay – Personality and the Pen with Devon-based calligrapher Scarlett Blue in February and ended with Weaver Writing with Bonnie Noehr in October. I’ve also done Double Stroke Capitals with Rachel Yallop – all online, with the benefit of recordings to look back on for a limited time. For more about the EPPC, click here.   

Wish You Were Here – The Cultural Spring

Twelve postcards over 12 weeks was the challenge set by artist ? and it was a great way to get me to pick up my calligraphy pens during lockdown and home schooling  

Delivering my first online workshop

Oh, the irony of finally getting around the hosting an online workshop just as my in-person classes were given the go-ahead to return in the Spring. I was pushed out of my comfort zone by 17Nineteen as part of its heritage crafts programme.

The return of in-person workshops after lockdown

There was definitely cause for celebration when my weekly classes and weekend workshops resumed in April – albeit with restrictions in place. Both myself and the venues that host my workshops have worked hard to keep everyone safe over the last seven months and we continue to keep a close eye on the latest guidance.

I’ve welcomed some new venues in the last year, including Darlington Hippodrome, Nightingale’s Niceties in Spennymoor and Newcastle Arts Centre – a space I’ve been hankering after working in for a while! I’ll be returning there in March 2022. For full workshop listings for next Spring, click here.

I’ve also been able to honour commitments from last year in the last couple of months, including workshops for the Northumberland Federation of Women’s Institutes (WI) and the Upper Wharfedale Arts and Literature Society and a talk for Jesmond WI.

Looking ahead to 2022

Things feel a bit up in the air again at the moment and I’m happy just to still be in business.

I’m keeping everything crossed for a ‘normal’ start to 2022 – my workshop programme is planned out until May and I have a few commissions in the diary already.

I will, however, be trying to pace myself and bring a bit of balance to my working week.

I’ve been looking at Arts Council England funding for both my own personal creative practice development and project grants for my groups. I’ve also signed up for a few different business workshops – getting back to basics and pressing ‘reset’ a bit I think.

There are exciting things ahead – the Lindisfarne Gospels are coming to the north east in 2022 and I’ve been asked to deliver some community calligraphy workshops in the run-up to their arrival.

South Tyneside has also been named as a Priority Place by Arts Council England and Sunderland Culture continues to do great things in my home city, so hopefully there will be more opportunities opening up for artists in the area.

I’ll also be celebrating my eight business birthday in May!

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