Love is a cup of tea brought to you in bed in the morning, and that is how most of my days begin. As the newly appointed Lead Trustee for Education within the Guild, I check my emails there, just in case something needs urgent attention. My life has quite a lot of ‘departments’ and I try to spin them all, so that none of the plates falls. We live in the middle of nowhere, in a very old house. There are few unexpected visitors, so housework takes a back seat to gardening, stitching, book arts, Guild work, C&G tutoring and family.
Most of last year was taken up with building a new studio. Simon and I are a good team – we renovated our house ourselves, so building a wooden structure seemed do-able. It was, with the only setback being a bruised thumb when we put the heavy top on the large table. It is thrilling to have a space I can spread out in. Who knew a stainless steel sink, bought for a song from eBay, could be so exciting?
There is room for a small sofa, so Simon joins me for a cuppa at 10.30 everyday and we do Popmaster with Ken Bruce, scoring between 3 and 27! Biddy Baxter, our 11-year-old rescued Sprollie has her place there too, with an old duvet cover detracting from her devastating beauty, but protecting the old quilt. Wales can be very muddy!
I’d like to pretend that the mess is due to having just got back from the Guild’s fabulous and hugely enjoyable AGM, but I have to accept that I am a natural ‘piler-upper’ of things. There is order in the piles, (except the one of AGM ‘acquisitions’). There is the Contemporary Quilt Journal challenge with wadding and backing fabric all paired ready for the year, and the file of completed mini quilts. There is the homemade ring-bound book in which I am trialling stencils along with some collage papers to add as well. There is the little pouch containing my travelling paint set and a tiny sketchbook for when the mood takes me. I did a bit at AGM and felt very proud of myself! I do, of course, intend to sketch daily. I do, of course, fail in that endeavour, but not hopelessly.
I enjoy filling sketchbooks and often refer back to old ones for inspiration and information. I belong to a book-arts group and pursue various aspects – there is a pile of grandchildren’s paintings ready to be made into a Coptic bound book and there is the pile of pages and images for the altered book I am making. The biggest pile is made up of things laughably known as ‘waiting to be put away’. They will be very soon, as I have a big quilting project in the mulling stage and I always ‘set fair’ before I start anything major. I also have a ‘poem a day’ book which I savour on studio days. Words are important to my work, be they song lyrics, poetry, quotes or my own invention.
Going back to the AGM, this was my first as a Trustee as I was unable to attend Newcastle last year. It was a very rewarding experience. The atmosphere is like a big family gathering, (yes, I know that can be … challenging … sometimes). There was something happening throughout the day and the volunteers who organise and manage the event were so efficient and so good humoured that I was in awe of their energy, and their commitment to their fellow members. I helped out here and there – the book stall was fun – helping people buy superb quality quilting books at phenomenal prices – what’s not to like! At the Gala Dinner, members scrubbed up rather well in shades of red to celebrate our 40th birthday. As a Trustee, we are expected to sit with members and not huddle in an exclusive clique. I sat with some really interesting members, but I was that awful person who makes everyone shift seats, so that I could ‘mingle’. I hope they forgave me as I so enjoyed the many conversations. I think it is an important part of my role to stay in touch with members thoughts, feelings and opinions. I learnt a lot and made some good connections. Nottingham Campus was described by the taxi-driver as ‘space city’ and he was not wrong! I sketched the building I saw from my room.
The view from my studio is a little different. I love it.
By George Newson, Lead Trustee for Education.