I was running a workshop at Gartmore House near Stirling as the lockdown was building. Little did we realise what was in store.
A Tourism Event I was due to attend on 17th March was cancelled at the last minute the night before. A talk and demo to be given to a local group on the Wednesday night was cancelled, a workshop planned for a group the following Saturday was cancelled. And so, it went on. I started panicking about finances as two or three participants in workshops I had planned here at Biteabout Farm for the following few months contacted me and asked for refunds. So, an email was put together offering refunds, but asking those who could, to reschedule at a later date. Thankfully most of them did.
I am a maker of willow sculptures and baskets, as well as a felt maker, but a large part of my income comes from workshops. This has changed. I stocked up my Etsy shop, advertised this on Instagram and Facebook alongside my availability for commissions and slowly things started to trickle in. An exhibition of sculptures due to open at The National Trust’s Priorwood Gardens in Melrose was postponed, but luckily a good customer bought a couple of pieces for their garden.
Our garden, which has been lovingly tended throughout lockdown by my husband, now has obelisks of climbing beans, willow fencing panels to shelter tender vegetables and bird feeders in the trees. All inspired by the orders and commissions for other’s gardens. My big seller on Etsy - small birdfeeders made corn dolly style around fat balls.
But life is not just work. I have a young son, now at home isolated, bored and my job, his home schooling. So, my main focus has become him. I try to see it as a positive – much of my work before was workshops and events at weekends and in holidays – now I get time with him.
However, things are slowly changing. My exhibition in Melrose has just opened and I already have some interest in commissions. My husband can start to create the frames for these. School holidays are coming and my son can see more of his friends. I am planning how I can have small groups attend a workshop here at Biteabout Farm in the Autumn. An event planned for this weekend has gone online. Sales in my Etsy shop continue. Things are looking up again.
The St Cuthbert Exhibition runs from Sunday July 15th until September 14th in St Mary's Church, Wooler.
As part of this exhibition, Durham Cathedral are loaning the Story Telling Felt Cloak for display.
To accompany this I will be giving a talk on Wednesday 18th July at 7.30pm.
Also a workshop on Saturday July 21st.
Many thanks to Susan Burke for this article...
The willow sculptures I created with volunteers for the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership are now all in situ at various locations on the 5 km Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve Nature Trail. Starting at the Window on the Wild with a willow Lapwing you can follow the trail behind the castle towards the coast, then up to the bird hide at the Lough, through the dunes and back down the Straight Lonnen. The willow sculptures include a group of Brent Geese, an Arctic Tern, a creche of Eider Ducks and Ducklings, a group of Swallows, a Short Eared Owl, a Fritillary Butterfly, and a Helleborine Orchid.
Many thanks to all the enthusiastic and talented volunteers who helped to create them and many thanks also to Andrew Craggs (Senior Manager, Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve) and his team for siting them.
It is 20 months since the completion of my cloak for St Cuthbert. I was invited to the preview of The Treasures of St Cuhtbert Exhibition at Durham Cathedral on Friday and was so excited to see my work on display at last. It is one of four artworks commissioned for the exhibition and they can all be seen up until the end of September, (but possibly longer, that is still to be agreed). The exhibition of the treasures is stunning, and has been worth the wait!
'Discover art in the outdoors. Beautiful rhythmic willow sculptures created by Anna Turnbull hidden throughout the woodland.
Living in Northumberland, Anna draws on the costal scenery and wildlife around her home for inspiration. In 2008, she started to work with the many varieties of coloured willows grown locally for basketry and the traditional techniques, and started to experiment with the idea of creating willow sculptures. Captivated by the pure organic form, colours and textures of the willows, her passion for creating the unexpected was ignited.
As visitors walk through the woods they will see a variety of woodland creatures emerging from the trees. A bird swooping upon its prey; a squirrel startled as it scurries up a tree; a pair of red deer engaged in combat.'
Inspired by the flora and fauna of the National Nature Reserve I have designed a series of sculptures to be created for Lindisfarne's Nature trail. We had the third of our six planned volunteer sessions making the sculptures yesterday
Mobile - 07557326797
My latest commission - Specially designed to fit the very precise measurements of this under eaves shelved space. Quite a challenge!
I have enjoyed making these Autumn inspired willow vessels. Playing with creating organic shapes, and adding felt into the weave has been very satisfying.