Happy New Year art lovers!
Hello 2020, as we enter a new year and a new decade it is a big time for me to reflect on my creative journey in art, business, family and life in the North East of England.
Wow! what a decade and what a long way we have come. Ten years ago Ross and I just bought our first house together. Young and full of ambition our business was thriving, peaking with a win from the Women in the Networks, North East England's "Best Creative Business" award. I remember writing my submission business plan with my ideas for the future. The main one being our own gallery by the sea!
Then our children followed in 2010 not one but two, yes twins and one of the most challenging years of our lives. Born prematurely we spent 12 weeks with them in SCBU (special care baby unit) at the RVI which at the time we thought was the hard bit. Then we brought them home with oxygen tanks and all, which really was when the fun started. All this while trying to keep the finance coming in through our art business. I took a year out from painting and creating. My babies were enough for me at that time. When you take a step back from something you love in this way and pour it into something new there is always the fear it will never come back to you. But I was wrong and it did come back. Life is just busier, much more fun and I have accepted that I may have an untidy house for the next decade!
Over the years that followed I eased myself back into creativity with Ross and I both working part time and juggling the kids between us. We managed to keep the business turning over doing art festivals and fairs, and a supplying our cards to shops around the country. The RSPB being our biggest stockist at that time.
In 2016 I was selected to paint two Great North Snowdogs for a Wild in Art Trail around Tyne and Wear. This was a new avenue for me but it looked like fun so I jumped at the chance.
That year I also held one of my biggest solo shows to date in the Bridge Gallery at Tynemouth Station. I re purposed 10 vintage deckchairs into pieces of art. It was a huge challenge and interesting space to fill, it certainly took me out of my comfort zone! My deckchairs caught the attention of Coast magazine and I was featured as their coastal character.
As we neared the end of the decade Ross and I both turned 40 and we talked more and more about where our business was heading. I was increasingly outgrowing my studio at the Mushroom Works and getting fed up with the commute. Our converted garage / stock room was needed for scooters, bikes & camping gear and we needed our spare bedroom back. We were bursting at the seams. One Christmas was actually spent with boxes of stock in the middle of the living room because we had run out of space! It was time to make a change.
In October 2018 we found our perfect property in Cullercoats. Just a few hundred metres from the bay it was close to home, family and friends. Perfect in size and location but not in condition. It took three months of renovations, an accommodating builder who was happy to work from my crazy biro sketch ideas. A sagging roof and two steel beams later, our new studio gallery was born!
We opened our doors in March 2019 and haven't looked back, it was a busy year with all the newness and setup that is involved in running a gallery, quickly followed by my involvement in Elmer's Great North Parade. Amazingly I was selected again to paint two Elmers and was blessed with the fantastic location at the Dome in Whitley Bay for Elephish. I was blown away that Elephish's design won the public vote as the favourite on the trail and got a T.V appearance on Look North. It was a truly wonderful highlight for me that together my Elmers raised a combined total of £15k for charity. If ever there was a feel good feeling that was it.
Today I am in the wonderful and privileged position to have my own little creative hub at the coast. It's something Ross and I couldn't have achieved without the support from our family and friends (you know who you are) and now we are thankful for the continued support from our local community in Cullercoats. They have welcomed us with open arms.
What will the next 10 years hold I wonder? I will contemplate this some more and write my next blog post on my resolutions and thoughts for the future. Thanks for reading and following my creative journey and I hope you stick with me for my next adventures. Joanne x