You’d think there couldn’t possibly be anymore for me to write about the summer. But it just kept on coming! I’d thrown myself into so many things it just got more and more exciting. I wrote a blog post asking; Could I be the next Cumbrian Artist of the Year? Where I explained the brilliant news; that I had been shortlisted for the award! Being shortlisted meant I’d been given the fantastic opportunity to exhibit in Carlisle. But it also meant I had another exhibition piece to organise. This was much easier, as I submitted the piece I had already made for Greystoke “At a Crossroads in Life.” I’d made new planks for piece down at Ullswater (which was still on display at the time) so I gave the original a touch up and sent it off to Carlisle for the exhibition. Which was held at the University of Cumbria’s exhibition space; Vallum Ditch Gallery, Cumbria Institute of the Arts.
Again I had the novel experience of handing over my work to someone else, and this time it was to be curated amongst the other shortlisted artists. I was so disappointed I couldn’t make it to the exhibition. (Unfortunately by this point we’d made the move down to Bristol and I’d started my new job.) And I was even more disappointed I couldn’t attend the opening night, especially when that Instagram Post went up and I found out some rather exciting news… I’d made it into the TOP 5 artists! I couldn’t believe it, I was so honoured to be recognised like that. Although I felt like a celeb that couldn’t make it to the awards ceremony- I was really disappointed. I would like to take this opportunity now though to thank everyone involved in C-Art, Young C-Art and congratulate the well deserved winner Adam Story.
C-Art ran from 10th September- 25th September 2016. After all the years seeing these yellow signs about at that time these ones were finally pointing towards my art work. What an amazing feeling. I had some great responses to the work, families sending me photographs with them in it etc but my favourite one of all was from a complete stranger. A lady called Norma. She found my contact details from the catalogue and emailed me this wonderful email-
Whilst on one of our favorite walks, the Ullswater shoreline at Pooley Bridge we came across some puzzling signs and realised they were the C-Art signposted at the beginning of the walk. Being in our middle to late 70s we are not really “into” modern or conceptual art but on reading your text all became clear. Having been born in 1942 and spending 6 years in the sixties in Australia we found your installation not only moving but very thought provoking. Like any example of good art I felt better after viewing it. Well done you. We wish you much happiness and success in your future signpost 2017. Grab everything in life that comes your way and make every day count (but I feel you already do.)
Yours most sincerely
Thank you so much Norma! We shared emails back and forth where she later said she told her book club about me. I was overwhelmed with happiness reading this email the first time and even more so now. Such kind words, so inspirational-thank you Norma, and thank you to all those who wandered down to see it when it was up!
Looking for a Sign?, Rachel Fenwick, 2016
“The first year I came to work at Ullswater I saw an installation by the lake by an artist called Robyn Woolston. It feels incredibly humbling knowing that during those five years I have now graduated in Fine Art and can say I have had my very own installation by lake. A very proud moment for me.”
C-Art Artist- Rachel Fenwick
One last thing to announce! Through Eden Arts I submitted an entry for a competition to be awarded ‘Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year’. And I’ve only gone and been shortlisted! Which means I now have a week to summit a piece of work to show at an exhibition in Carlisle to be in the running! #howexciting
So now onto the next big thing! I’m throwing myself into all these opportunities this year, (even though I am starting a new job in September!) Another thing I had up my sleeve was being part of C-Art this year. After volunteering with the organisation last year, I wanted to get involved myself. C-Art is Cumbria’s largest visual arts project; it began as an Open Studios event, whereby artist’s open their studios across the whole of Cumbria to the general public. Obviously I don’t have a studio though. So how am I involved? Well the project now coordinates ‘C-Art in Extraordinary Places’ as part of the trail. So I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be involved in the project as an Installation on the ‘Ullswater Shores’ titled ‘Looking for a Sign’. I am in the catalogue! I best get making! #edenarts #C-Art #ExtraOrdinaryPlaces
Another fantastic event I never got round to writing about was the C-Art Open Studios trail in September. I’d played a role in production of the event, (through some volunteer work I’d done at Eden Arts), so it was an exciting time for me see it come together. I could put a face to the names of people I’d been been selecting for Eden Art’s Facebook ‘Artist of the Day’ and faces to the names of all those bios I’d proofread in the catalogue. I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to as many as I’d like to have done, but it was an eye opener and something I’m considering participating in myself next year. Maybe not in the Caravan though!- maybe one of C-Art’s extraordinary places. Fingers crossed.
As well as that exciting news from Rheged I also had a rather exciting meeting with a lady called Christine Hurford that opened up yet another opportunity for me. Whilst volunteering with Jo at C-Art, I was told there was an exhibition on downstairs in the Old Fire Station. (The office space for Eden Arts is located in the Old Fire Station- Penrith.) I went along and was really surprised to find the exhibition displayed eerie photographs of a previous obsession of mine- abandoned buildings. I began talking to one of the Artists- Christine about how she gets into these buildings- from previous experience I know the difficulties you can be faced with. It’s well worth it though. The photographs were fantastic- cleverly mounted onto fencing well recognised as a symbol to keep out. The images Christine Hurford and Jane Peet exhibited in ‘Dereliction’ complimented one another’s investigation into the unknown brilliantly.
As the conversation went on, Christine became interested in my own art practice and later revealed she’s soon to have another exhibition at Greystoke Church- which she wondered if I’d be interested in showing some work. I was, of course, honoured to be asked- having something to work for gives any artist the drive to start making again. So as I set off up the stairs with a spring in my step, I became even more excited when I then remembered something that’s been playing on my mind for a while now. A family member of mine had posted something on Instagram about my Great-grandparents (her grandparents.) It was a newspaper clipping commemorating their 50th Wedding anniversary- and what church where they married in? – None other than Greystoke Church, Penrith. What are the chances? I’m not from Cumbria; I move here for work each summer and it’s only recently that I’ve found out that my ancestors lived here in this area. I’ve been considering making some art about this happy coincidence- and well now I have no excuse.
There’s still a lot swirling round my head about being in The Lakes and the swings and roundabouts of life but just as a last blog post for today I wanted to share my exciting news that I’ve started a new volunteering venture with Eden Arts- working currently on the C-Art project. I’ve only been there two weeks and already I feel a huge sense of achievement. At the moment I’m helping out with the social media and blog aspect of the project. Learning the ins and outs of programs like Hoot-Suite; setting scheduled facebook posts and tweets. But for me the real value of this experience is getting back out there, learning new skills, meeting new people, finding out that Cumbria actually does have quite a lot going on art wise and most importantly reminding myself that art jobs are available nationwide and I can do this!