May was a colder one than usual here on the south end of Vancouver Island. There goes my British side talking about the weather again. It is going somewhere, I promise. During rainy days sat on my couch, I stared dreamily at my camera equipment packed up on the floor under the window, meticulously planning my warm weather rebirth.
(You know the one 'the next warm day, I'm going to *enter something fun you probably still won't have the energy to do*'. Maybe you don't know the one. Is it just me?) Regardless, there I was, sat planning all of the adventures my camera and I could have when the rains finally gave way to the start of summer. I turned to Alex (my wild idea sound board, partner in childish mischief and in everything else.), and said 'I'm going to go to markets this year and take pictures'. It was a mini revelation in the making. A win win. I got to combine my love of photography, art, connecting with creatives, and wandering around markets.
Over the years, market season and all that entails became my comfort zone, and I missed that. This time three years ago I was frantically designing, making, planning, and getting organised for what I hoped would be a busy market season. I loved (and sometimes didn't love) the start of the season; wondering if my display was rain and wind proof, if my prices were fair, if people would like my new designs. So many unknowns.
My favourite part, especially as the season went on, was always those few moments of calm between setting up and the flood of humans descending (which hopefully they do!). A chance to breathe before you become the 'face of your brand' for the next 8 hours.
Four years of markets spent in this flow of creation, design, and planning. I loved creating wire art jewelry, spending my days touring round markets and art shows selling my wares. I was fortunate enough to do it full time. When the pandemic hit I pivoted to part time online, retailer, and gallery sales, and part time work at a local pet store. I was making it work and feeling lucky to be able to carry on working and doing what I love at a time when that wasn't possible for such a large portion of the population.
Then I got hit by something else that took a bit more pivoting; a really sucky neurological disorder. My days of wire art, silversmithing, and almost everything else that involved motor skills, were cut down at the root. One of the most difficult aspects I added to my 'to mourn' list was the connection I had built to the art community on the island.
If you've met me in real life, you may have got the sense that I'm ridiculously stubborn. Not that I didn't have a fair few months of feeling very pathetically sorry for myself, but pretty early on in that process, my stubborn side began to bubble up and started grasping aimlessly around in the dark for another way to exist. While I couldn't move in the way I was use to I could still move; I still existed and that was all the foundation I needed to build upon. It was then that I turned to my camera and found my creativity wasn't lost, it just had to learn how to express itself in a new language.
Last year, when I was brain dumping and trying to conceptualise what I actually wanted do with my life, I had written in my bullet journal that I wanted to photograph 'Art in action'. I knew that artists were most alive and least aware of themselves when they were in the flow of their artform, I had lived in that flow for years and knew I wanted to give the world an insight into this intimate connection usually reserved for solitary studio spaces. In creating, artist's faces contort, the tongue comes out (for me at least), and they emit this aura of pure joy that, if you're lucky enough to be in the same room, you can feel vibrating off them like a child at the fairground after one of those big colourful spiral lollies and a bucket of candyfloss.
Learning to express myself through a new art form was a really good outlet for me (I also took up watercolour when I found I could still hold a paintbrush and make abstract movements on paper, it took away the sting of not being able to sketch, or draw in any detail.). Over the past year I have been developing and investing in my photography. Ever so slowly I began to realise that the joy I once thought was only reserved for my passion for jewelry making, was present when I was capturing other artists' passions too. The first studio session I did gave me that same spark I used to get when I was creating, and it felt like a piece of the puzzle I had mourned the loss of, had suddenly returned. Over the last few months I have had the honor and joy of working with so many talented artists, crafters, and creatives. For the first time in a while I can honestly say I'm excited about what the future holds, and what I will be able to create with the help of Vancouver Island's creative community.
If you're still reading, thanks for being here! I'm this much of a talker in real life too.
If you're an artist, crafter, or creative, I'd love to work with you! Get in touch and let's curate your brand's perfect image refresh!