I often use this time of year to finish those things that I have kept putting off. In my day job that might be writing a stack of reports or clearing out filling cabinets. In the studio it is adding sleeves and labels to finished pieces and making bags to store them in. I love every other process that makes up my art. I love washing screens, I love sewing in ends and I love sewing down facings. Adding labels and sleeves and making bags - nope. But it needs doing and it gives me the opportunity to reflect on the year and think about the year ahead.
2017 has been a quiet 'art' year for me especially compared to 2016. The year has been spent mostly making work for the two exhibitions I have with Helen Conway in 2018 so I haven't really had much new work available to enter as many 'Calls for Entry' as I did in 2016. I was disappointed that a new piece, Liverpool Street Salford wasn't selected for Fine Art Quilt Masters in the summer as it would have been really neat to be selected three years in a row. But I was absolutely thrilled that an older piece, Ruins 1, was accepted into Quilt-Art-Quilt in Auburn, New York. I was even more thrilled when it won Best in Show and was sold. I have two other pieces exhibiting this year. Ruins 7 is touring with Quilt Nation and Happy Today? is touring with SAQA Layered Voices. Both pieces were made and selected in 2016 but opened in 2017. But that is all. A quiet year.
Behind the scenes however I have been busy. The stats for 2017; 1053 hours in the studio in 2017 compared to 964 hours in 2016. That means an average of 20.25 hours per week compared to 18.5 hours a week. During that time I have finished 21.58 square metres of art compared to 18.87 square metres in 2016. Go Leah! In 2016 I made 9 'major' pieces and a couple of small pieces. In 2017 however I knew that I needed to make more small art for the 2018 exhibitions. Challenging myself to spend 100 week day evenings just making small art was a great way of making that happen. I made 52 small pieces during that time. In addition I have made 5 big pieces of art and have made 3 small pieces for the international fibre group I joined in 2017 Cloth in Common. Not a bad haul for the year but I still have a lot of work to do for the second exhibition in 2018.
On paper I should have been able to spend more time in my studio and produce more art in 2017. I left my day job in August and should have been able to put in extra hours whilst looking for a new job. But my mother-in-laws sudden illness and passing turned everything upside down. There were days when I was just too sad to stitch but, once again, my studio and my art have provided great comfort to me. As have our family and friends. Thank you.
And so to 2018. Mine and Helen's first exhibition will be at World of Glass in St Helens from 17th March to 4th May. I have one piece left to finish for this. Our second exhibition will be at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery from 26th May to 1st July. I have a somewhat intimidating amount of work to do before then. Beyond that I need to decide what Calls for Entry to pursue. I also want to apply for gallery space for a solo exhibition(s) in 2019. And I need to find a day job. Should be a quiet year.