Well this year has seen another big change for me – I’ve moved to North Norfolk! I know – ‘you’ve only just settled at Cockpit Arts’ I hear you cry. It has been a tough decision but once I share the story behind my move I hope you’ll agree there was only one way to go…
Made in Cley
We moved a few times as a family while I was growing up. But the place we always came back to was Norfolk. Cley-next-the-Sea to be precise. It’s a little village that sits alongside the marshes approaching the sea. Open skies meet the reeds along the raised bank that meanders to the rugged stony beach.
Wild in winter, golden in summer, I grew up running in to the sea, picking berries, watching the sun set on the windmill from our garden.
My siblings and I would wait for the school bus on the steps outside Made in Cley, the pottery in the centre of the village. We felt pretty comfortable jumping up and down the steps, hanging off the handrail, giving the onlooking potters heart attacks as we tripped and skipped over the cobbles. Made in Cley had become familiar to us as our parents became friends with the group of potters and jeweller. A creative bunch who landed in the early eighties to make beautiful functional pottery and had great parties.
The gallery was always an amazing place to me. Historically the old village shop, original shelves, counter and drawers made a perfect setting for the contemporary stoneware, handthrown in the workshops off from the gallery.
What really fascinated me was the jewellery. Quay Proctor Mears made all the jewellery on show and it was inspiring. The most enticing of it all, the chunky wooden blocks on the counter containing row upon row of rings and bangles. You could pick them up and try them on! Joy!
Fast forward a few years and a couple of moves, we’re back in Cley. This time as a teenager working at Picnic Fayre, the busy deli on the corner. I started working in the Made in Cley gallery too. My favourite tasks? To polish the rings and bangles in the blocks on the counter. Choosing how and which pots to display on the shelves. Watching Quay as she would measure a customers fingers and discuss designs.
A creative journey.
It took me a little longer to finally realise that Jewellery was my future. Once I realised I had found my vocation I persued it with everything I had. An expensive craft in an expensive city, I threw myself in to study in London and learning about the Jewellery Industry. Sometimes doing three jobs at a time I made sure I was always learning, whether it was workshop experience, gallery selling or making cocktails! Who knew I would be there seventeen years later!
A long held dream was to have a studio at Cockpit Arts. When they started the LCN programmes it was a way of accessing their business coaching as a non-member. I became more determined to get a studio there. I didn’t manage it the first time. I wasn’t ready looking back, and they would have seen that. I worked harder and eventually found my design aesthetic. I got my work in to exhibitions and galleries, building a name for myself.
I spent a year working on my second application to Cockpit – building a strong collection, getting professional images, working on my CV and Artist Statement. I wanted a yes this time and made sure they couldn’t say no!
Then, at the end of 2019 I got the answer I wanted. I’d been accepted and was offered a space in Holborn. A dream come true! I could move in the Spring of 2020, hooray!
In the meantime, Quay had been making moves towards her retirement after 38 years of being the resident Made in Cley jeweller. She had been mentioning for years how nice it would be if I could one day take over from her.
You see what’s coming?!
Like buses. You feel like you’re waiting for ever and then two opportunities come along at the same time. Chuck in a global pandemic for luck and two amazing opportunities become unreachable and confused.
I delayed my move to Cockpit until September. I was worried about meeting payments while shops were closed. I had temporarily moved to my Dad’s in Norwich during lockdown and worked from a little table top, learning to photograph my own work and embrace the urgent rush to online selling.
I needed a plan. I wanted to experience all that Cockpit could offer having finally acheived this ambition. But I was being offered something that would mean I could work and make a living from the place I have always called home. So I talked to Quay and the potters and we agreed they would wait for me for a bit.
My studio at Cockpit is beautiful. It has light from every angle. High ceilings, white walls, incredible studio mates. I couldn’t have imagined how much I would fall in love with that place. Which is why I haven’t given it up. I moved to Norfolk a month ago now and I’m loving my new space and all the joy being at Made in Cley brings me. But I’m keeping my Cockpit studio for as long as I can. I’m going to work there next week on my website (I’m building a new one, watch this space), visit my suppliers and catch up with fellow jewellers in the area. I’m going to take part in the Cockpit Summer Festival in June which we hope upon hope will be a physical open studios event. So for a little while I’m going to be based from Made in Cley and Cockpit. I’m sorry if it sounds greedy but I’ve waited a long time for these things to happen and I didn’t expect it all to come at once! So I’m making the best of it.
Riding the waves of change…
Now my commute has changed from masking up on the underground, to cycling past the reeds on the marshes.
So much is familiar but the journey I’ve taken to get here makes it new and exciting. I’m looking forward to working on new designs and sharing them with you. To getting to know Cley as a grown up with a craft and a business. To being the person who might inspire a local kid in to following a creative career.
All the support that I can get to make it a success is invaluable. Thanks to Cockpit I’m getting support in making these changes as well as with building a creative living in a time of great challenges. And thanks to the welcome I’ve had from the other makers and visitors at Made in Cley I know I’ve made the right move. I’m home!