Earlier this year I was in a new town, feeling slightly lost and without connections. I was volunteering at a local charity shop to avoid being a total hermit, drawing and painting at home all day long. If I hadn’t been helping out at that charity shop, I might not have heard about an opportunity to join a local gallery. The shop manager said I should apply! So I thought why not? I’ve got nothing to lose!
Now here I am four months later, a proud member of Gallery Twenty! The gallery is based in the incredible Getliffe’s Yard in Leek, Staffordshire, and run by a collective of artists, who all have a shared responsibility for the business. I moved to this beautiful town exactly one year ago, from one of the most creative locations in the country: Bristol. To discover such a kindred creative community here in Leek – albeit on a slightly smaller scale – has meant so much to me and my art career, especially at this early stage.
During my time in Bristol I actually studied and completed a music degree, specialising in singing and songwriting. Art and music have always played crucial roles in my life, and I could never let either of them go. Nevertheless I realised art is truly where my focus lies, and where I want my career to go. I am 25 years old now, and often feel like I’ve wasted so much time going this way, and that way, and round in circles. Add to that the fact that I don’t have an art degree, I often find myself questioning whether I deserve to be here at all. Yet amidst all my self-doubt and indecision, lies my reason to express: some spark of value that I could bring to my audience – to you – to say we’re all in this together, we’re all connected, and it’s ok not to have everything figured out!
Everyone at Gallery Twenty immediately expressed how I bring a “breath of fresh air” to the group with my mixed media illustration work. I was also able to slot into a role straight away as the social media ‘coordinator’. I spend a few hours each week gathering photos of everyone’s gorgeous work (and the extremely photogenic Getliffes Yard), scheduling them into a cohesive order, and writing some engaging captions – or attempting to anyway! Check out the gallery’s Facebook page and Instagram profile to follow along with our journey, and see some examples of the work we offer.
The gallery only opened in October 2017, thus it is so exciting and eye-opening to be part of such an innovative business at this early stage of its life. We get to decide what’s best for the gallery as a team, and we also get to deal with all its problems – including emptying the entire space to replace the floor! All of this is exactly what I need to feed into my own business and brand, Sunray Sister. I am determined to take my work – and my marketing of that work – to the next level; creating something that provides meaning to other people; to make a difference in other people’s lives, and remind them of the little moments of magic in everyday life.
Part of our recent developments at Gallery Twenty include sharing more about us, the artists behind the business. We currently have laminated artist statements on display inside and outside the gallery, and here is mine:
We are also taking it in turns to be the featured artist of the month, and it’s my turn first! So I hope you have learnt a little bit about me from this article; whether you are new here or have been following my journey from the very (not so long ago) beginning. In future I will write more about the rest of the team and their work; we are even setting up a blog to go on our new website. For now though, to finish off this post, here are a few photos of my work in Gallery Twenty:
All of this work is currently exclusively available at Gallery Twenty, and the occasional local market, the next of which will be this Sunday the 2nd of September in Leek. I do also have an Etsy shop where I offer portrait commissions.
You can find me back here on the 1st of September for my August Happy Highlights post (my regular monthly reflection of all the little things that made me smile), and then on Monday the 3rd for another written ramble with a few pretty pictures which I call a blog post! Until then, make sure to come and say hi on my Instagram profile where I share the progress of my 365 day art challenge.
Stay creative sisters!
Peace and love,