This pandemic year 2020 has been unlike any other I’ve known ever in my lifetime and I find myself wanting to record it here because it’s been hard to remember events that have happened without the usual rhythms of life to mark them. I’m sure one day I’ll think back on this year and not remember it all.

It has been a year that’s pruned and revealed. A year I’ve let my hair grow out grey which in itself is fine (the pandemic gave me the reason I’ve been wanting to un-attach myself from the long bi-monthly hairdresser visit) but speaks more about an increasing willingness to just let things be, not to fight or make happen.

One of those lessons was the end of my Artist in Residency at Winterbourne House & Gardens which finished with no big fanfare of an exhibition to top it off. It all came down to me valuing my personal experience and the work I made without outside validation or income for it. A pill which took some weeks to swallow but I found closure through filming a home-spun exhibition myself and then saying goodbye and thanks to the project.

I miss my arts center job enormously (it is mothballed for a year) and was/is so sad that many, many colleagues will have gone and moved on to pastures new post-redundancy. I love working there and the co-workers are a large part of that. On a positive note, some of my textiles group regulars transformed into a new Zoom Textiles weekly meet-up which started in March and is still running every week.

At first in the shock of Lockdown we crafted thematically together but as time has gone on we’ve found freedom to do whatever we each please (or nothing) and I’ve made a group of new friends.

My garden sustained me enormously this year; offering me a different creative focus to art making, a place generally uninhabited by other members of my family so I could find some aloneness and space to think and feel.

And of course the excitement of growing things to eat and decorate our house with. I hope to focus more on my own garden as a source of art inspiration in 2021.

We were lucky enough to get 3 trips in this year in between Tier restrictions; Ilfracombe in March before the pandemic, Portmerion for a few days in Aug and a week in West Wales in September, plus 3 trips to family in Norfolk varying from overnight to an hour and a half. I’ve not enjoyed being constricted in that way, unable to travel where and when I’ve wanted to, especially where my elderly parents are concerned.

Our front door often revolves as one child comes back home and another leaves for a spell; I was very anxious in April when our son left to live solo having been home for some time (broken leg etc) but he was ready (pandemic or not) to get going with his life again. He found a great job and flat/s and the summer was good to him. Tiers 3 and 4 have put him back on furlough so the future looks uncertain atm.

Having my daughter here all year (she came back in March just before she finished her degree) has been an unexpected bonus- we fully expected her to move straight on to whatever life has to offer her in her next chapter (probably abroad) but I won’t lie that I’ve enjoyed having her home.

We have completed three Domestika embroidery courses together and shared a new-found love of sewing and printing too. We have also discovered a love of jigsaws and tried to do Zumba regularly (Sunny Funny Fitness for the memory archive)

After she galvanised me in August to get started, we completed the NHS Couch to 5K in Dec and I have been running 3 x a week since. I’m the most surprised about this!

In May I began my most complex knitting pattern ever Blomsterjakke Flower cardigan and seven months later finished it in December.

I read a lot – 21 this year – I made a special effort to keep a note of them as I always forget. I managed to stay in Book Club but it’s not the same on Zoom.

And I also started learning French on Dualingo and to date I’m on a 223 day streak. I loved learning French at school and of all the places I yearn to travel to, France is always in the top three so it’s an investment and it’s keeping my brain sharp.

Like most people in the arts, my work bottomed out suddenly leaving me at first with time to happily indulge in things I’d been meaning to do (cue big studio tidy, AinR work, work inspired by our Asia trip in 2019) but as time went on I had to face how I feel when I’m not working and that was much harder. I thrive when I’m creatively associated with people (teaching, visiting galleries, learning) I felt blocked in a way, that I couldn’t breathe in nor breathe out in a creative way. And eventually the “Who am I, What do I do’ gremlin comes a-calling and I had a few bumpy weeks of the blues. I solved it in part by starting a gratitude journal to remind myself just how fortunate I am. But also some of my existing projects gently re-ignited, albeit it digitally, so I had some creative contact and some income which both helped me feel more me.

I said yes to every bit of passing work which meant a huge up-skilling in my knowledge and ability to use imovie, Zoom, film myself, speak to camera coherently and how to edit and produce films which are enjoyable to watch. I was at a loss at the time (I never wanted to get on camera) but in hindsight it’s been great for me and proved to be a necessary stepping stone. I filmed my own on-line painting (a plate of tomatoes) course, started a You-Tube channel and next year I have two new projects kicking off – both digital, both with new-to-me partners.

My life plays out visually on Instagram fairly regularly but I have returned to this quiet unattended space much more regularly this year. It feels like a quiet place to collect my thoughts and a diary of sorts so I can capture events in time and explain them more fully.

I wrote this for me and my archive but if you’ve taken the time to get to this end here then the least you deserve is my wishing you a very Happy New Year.

The garden still has some treasures to be found worth painting – I have left flowers to go to seed so that there are interesting seed heads, the ornamental quince has fruited and the Marigolds soldier on regardless and all of these make lovely things to paint on this sunny day.

Here it is 🥁🥁🥁 My first online painting project for you to do at home in your own time – handy for another Lockdown. And the great news is that I’m offering an Early Bird discount – the first 12 people get access for just £12 💫

A couple of people suggested I give digital teaching a go, so I’ve massively upped my skill set over the last few months and recorded a painting project which you can do step-by-step alongside me.

It’s a digital watercolour painting project comprising 13 videos to guide you through every step of making a still life painting of tomatoes on a plate. I demonstrate every step and there are two project options so you can find the right challenge for you.

You will learn how to stretch paper, how to use masking fluid, the Flooding and Salting techniques to create watercolour effects, the Lifting Out technique and advice on how to sketch, add hi-lights and shadows, what materials to use and how best to finish your painting. Created to offer you a moment of creativity – it is for all ages and stages and there are no expectations of you other than to have an enjoyable time.

All this to keep forever for just £15 by emailing hello@claireleggett.co.uk.

Exciting news coming soon… an online painting project from yours truly: A step-by-step, at-your-pace, video-based painting class for just £15 (with a special price of 💫 £12 💫for the first 12 sign ups) – that’s less than £1 per video. And you’ll have access to it forever. 13 separate YouTube videos, each one explaining every step of the process, as we paint and create a still-life together (tomatoes on a plate 🍅 or apples🍏 in a bowl, it’ll be up to you). I still have a few uploads to complete and then all will be revealed…

I feel like I took a deep breath back in March to brace for what the pandemic might mean for me as a self-employed artist who gets her kicks (and most of my income) from face-to-face collaboration and teaching.

And I think I’ve been holding it ever since, which can’t go on, so as part of my exhalation I’m releasing all the products I had made and squirrelled away for The Big Event Which Didn’t Happen (my Residency show @artist_winterbournehg)

There are 3 scarves all designed and printed by me – Swifts, Hoya and Alyssum scarves, £18 each inc p&p in the UK ( postage quotes for other places) They are up in the Textile Art tab if you’re at all interested.

It’s been hard to ease back into a working pace this week because:

1) I have a post holiday, slow vibe,

2) My daughter Lucy has taken over my studio to do a print project of her own – which I love! – the project and accommodating her 😉

3) I’ve been shoved up in the corner under the roof while this happens :)))

Just back from a lovely break surrounded by nature in West Wales.

We enjoyed lots of slow time – I love how waiting 10 mins for a kettle to boil on a gas stove really stops you in your tracks and makes you breathe.

We walked a lot – fields, beaches and nature reserves. Lottie enjoyed these to the utmost.

It was just an all round great embrace with nature, a change of pace and place.

Back in May I finished my Artist in Residency at Winterbourne House & Gardens but was unable to hold an exhibition of all the work I’d completed due to the pandemic. Life is moving on and although Winterbourne is now open again, it has been reorganised and any possible exhibition still looks a long way off.
So I have set up the work at home and filmed it. It’s part exhibition of works (paintings, print, textiles and embroidery) and part artists talk where I tell you some stories behind the paintings or processes I have used.
I hope you might have a watch – it’s on YouTube here and it’s completely free to view.
I have updated my website to show all the work and a lot of the products I had made which were destined for sale in the shop during the run of my exhibition, if you fancy taking a look www.claireleggett.co.uk

Eleri Mills is one of wales most successful artists.

We swung by the Ruskin Craft Center on our home from Port Merion – I’ve got to say that seeing some real art in a real art gallery was so soul-filling after these many months of Lockdown.

I didn’t realise how much I respond to seeing art in real life until we were walking around and I was literally soaking it up – I went around twice.

Apart from the recent denial of such pleasures, I enjoyed this so much because Eleris work really talks to me.

It is full of mark making and those marks translate to say something about the landscape which inspires her but also can be abstract and I like that.

She also develops those marks into stitches put directly through the canvas.

And these are often running stitches but can be a gorgeous hue or an eye catching luxe thread but they serve to continue to talk about the landscape in an even more tactile fashion.

It’s an approach which really inspires me.

I also loved her use of scale and the way she played with diptych and triptych approaches to drawing over several sheets of paper either to expand the same scene or to make companion pieces.

It reminds me also to never stop drawing or dipping my soul into nature to feel grounded and alive.

Eleri Mills – Egni: a decade of creativity is running August – November 2020 at Ruthin Craft Centre, The Centre for the Applied Arts.

Last week, we originally we had a weeks camping planned in Wales but they cancelled us at the last minute (campsite was a mud-slide) so we condensed our holiday into the only two days that Port Merion could accommodate us.

But what a lovely two days it was! 

Port Merion is is a village built in the style of an Italian village but in North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.

It’s quirky, pretty, tucked away from the rest of the world and you can stay in the houses you see or the hotels. 

There is love and attention to architectural detail everywhere and that is matched by the abundant natural habitat and views – it’s an all round winner in my opinion. 

It’s one of my all time favourite places to visit.

We did all the walks – (coastal, woodland and ‘the other one’) marvelling at wild Bee-Orchids, the range of colour and type of naturally growing Hydrangeas and the size of the sea (high after a stormy night) and size of the sky (BIG skies).

You can read a fuller history here if you’re interested.

Copyright notice 2020

All images, text, and content on this site are the sole property of Claire Leggett and may not be used, copied or transmitted without the express consent of Claire Leggett.

If you wish to link to this site or to a post from this site, please ask first before doing so and then give appropriate credit for content.

Any other inquiries please email me at hello@claireleggett.co.uk

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