Nottingham born and brought up in Barnsley, I left Willowgarth High School in 1994 with decent grades, enough to do A level qualifications at Barnsley College. I always found art and being creative came easy to me although my love for animals were just as strong. Being torn between the two I decided to follow what came easy and graduated in the year 2000 from Leeds University with a BA Hons in Design.
My specialisms were photography, Jewellery making and print making. I will try and dig out some of my old work from my folders upstairs at some point and include them in this space. I loved my time at University as it gave me a massive platform to experiment with. My ultimate aim and goal would be to have my own jewellery and photography pieces on sale in art and craft shops – and posh coffee shops in cute little villages in the dales…. So following my dreams when I graduated I bought a huge shed for the back garden and converted it into a studio.
Not trying to make excuses but regular life meant not much time to spend in my studio and working full time in social housing took most of my time and energy. My work never made it into the cute shops. I attended several job interviews for design jobs – although at the time if you managed to get a job as a photocopier in an office that dealt with anything to do with design was considered a bonus. Junior design jobs were not paid the best wage, so I took a job working in a domestic abuse unit which paid much better wages.
So to cut a long story short and not to bore you with years and years about my life, in 2007 I started my own business in the pet shop trade. From a market trader, to a small shop and now to a large double story premises running an exotic rescue centre alongside the shop. For the last 10 years this has taken all my time, energy and sometimes took me away from he important things in life such as friends and family.
With a few ‘wake up calls’ in recent years me and my life partner/fiance/business partner/punch bag/shadow….Adrian decided that enough running ourselves into the floor, working week after week with no time for ourselves. We have another 8 years left on our business lease and dont want to be rid of the business, just take a backward step away.
The decision to make two of our staff members, managers meant that we could off load most of the decision making and stock ordering and start to enjoy time off. Although I still deal with the finances, staff rota and cover the shop in staff absence.
Beginning of this year 2018 we purchased a caravan to use as an escape so Adrian could pursue his hobby in fishing and we could use the time to get away from the business and relax. This is where I found things hard…relaxing! I am unable to sit and do nothing and initially found ‘chilling out’ to be a mental torture. I needed a focus, something to do to occupy my mind and searched inside myself to find what it was.
Cooking? I brought across my cook books, looked through at all the gorgeous food, put the book back on the shelf and ordered a take away. I was never good at cooking anyway.
Biking? I brought across my bike to the caravan, went out, realised how much it hurt my backside and just how unfit I was and realised I would never be making the Tour de Yorkshire team.
Photography? I brought across my camera, couldnt find the battery charger, forgot my tripod and realised I had lost a load of equipment over the years.
Then one day I was walking around the caravan park and came across Simon sat peacefully under an umbrella in the sun, sketching a landscape on an A3 pad… and wham!!! There it was…the relight of the passion. The inspiration was there. Perfect. I used to be able to do this kind of thing. So a trip to Hobby Craft was in order and I came back armed with a large bag of goodies excited to get started.
At this point in my life I consider myself to be in a VERY fortunate position where I am to take time away from my main job and enjoy the important things of life, although I have gone through hell and back to get here!