2023 – a year of opportunities?

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 This year I decided to say yes to every art opportunity which came my way. So, halfway through the year I thought I would pause and to review what has happened.

First, let me say that many years ago I used to sell children’s books. I loved that business. It brought together my love of books, art, children (mine were young at the time) and running a small business. I had the freedom to be with my children when they needed me but met some wonderful mums and dads who wanted to give their children quality literature from birth to age 18. It was fun.

One of the things I learnt in that business was the idea of obtaining 100 “no”s. What does that mean? Well, if you set a target of trying to obtain 100 “no”s, on the way you will gain quite a few “yes”es. Those “yes”es in turn will become opportunities for selling the books.

These days I prefer to focus on the positive. I know that in order to obtain the “yes”es I will have to make lots of applications but rather than count “no”s I prefer to count “yes”es.

So what has happened this year? I did apply for a few open competitions in the world of print. I can only assume that my work was not what they were looking for because I didn’t hear back from any of them, but I also understand that when you have hundreds of people applying for a particular competition or exhibition, trying to get back to everyone is not easy.

I didn’t apply for quite a few shows which I really should have. Every year I tell myself I should apply at the open submissions event with the Society of Women Artists and every year I manage to miss the deadline. I probably need to look closer at myself and figure out why. I do know I hesitate to apply for anything held in central London simply because I don’t like going there. I also know that the more I make myself go to London the easier it will get, but I have allowed myself to become more and more afraid of what could go wrong rather than focusing on what could go right. Silly me.

So, what has gone right?

Well right at the beginning of the year, I took part in a pop-up evening at Dorking Halls with Dapper & Suave, AKA Jason and Rob. It was fun, there were a fair few visitors and the atmosphere created by these two lovely people was wonderful.

In February I ran an art exhibition for Ginger Cactus Art (GCA) at Denbies Wine Estate. We had lots of visitors, some lovely comments and a few sales.

In March, despite saying I wasn’t going to do it again, I took the opportunity to have a stand at Sandown Park. Sales were not great, but I was approached there by a glass manufacturer who want to use my artwork turned into glass splashbacks for kitchens and bathrooms. So I consider this a huge win.

April saw me taking part in AppArt; an annual event which I really enjoy being part of. The organisers have been putting on this event for years now and they know what they are doing. The operation is slick and they are wonderfully professional in dealing with both artists and customers.

I also agreed to attend a number of events with Jason and Rob, the lovely people who are Dapper & Suave. The April event was at Denbies and was well attended. Sales were OK and the other stall holders around me were great. It was a really enjoyable day.


Still in April I was invited to be a guest artist at an online event organised by an outfit called The Bloomz. I had some misgivings right from the start but stuck with it throughout the entire process and wished that I had listened to my gut. Some of the people in that group were absolutely charming, really supportive and a pleasure to meet. Others were not. A number of people told me after the event that I should have found out more about it before agreeing to get involved. They were right, I just wish they had said that before I agreed to take part, but lesson learned. I will do my due diligence before agreeing to anything like this again. Still, I had promised myself to say yes to every opportunity this year.

However, the enormous amount of time and energy taken up with this event meant that I had to turn down the annual art fair with the Dorking Group of Artists (DGA), a group I have been a member of for many years and an event I really wanted to be a part of. Never mind though, there is always next year’s spring show and I will take part in the autumn show this year.

My next mistake was to take part in the art fair at Goodwood. It was a horrendous experience which resulted in me, through absolutely no fault of my own, being kicked out of the upcoming fair coming at Epsom racecourse in October. The same man runs both events and decided that he would rather kick me out than admit to, and deal with the appallingly bad behaviour of his friend. However, it did make me realise that these big art fairs in racecourses across the UK are no better than vanity galleries and when I put my accountant’s hat on and looked at the figures I saw just how much time and money I have wasted on this type of event. If you know me well I always like to find the silver lining in every situation.

Also in May I attended a pop-up evening at Dorking Halls with Dapper & Suave. Visitor numbers were poor and sales not great either but it is such a pleasure being with them and meeting other artists too that somehow no one minded!

June is the big event I run each year and, boy, did it take it out of us this time. In May I asked the GCA members who were taking part to come and help my husband and I erect the marquee. There were nine of us, all over 40 and a fair few over 60. It took us the best part of the day to put the thing up and Mr S and I were left to put down the flooring and put up the hanging systems. We really have had to admit that we are getting too old for this. Visitor numbers were low, not just for us but across the whole county and sales were down, too. However, we did meet some lovely people and had some interesting conversations.

As I look now to the rest of 2023 I am reminded that I will still say yes to things which come my way but I will be far more careful about reading contracts, checking each event is something I do want to be aligned with and asking many more questions before I get involved with new or unknown opportunities.

I will be showing my artwork in a gallery in Leatherhead from 1st July, which is very exciting. I will be doing another Dapper & Suave event at Denbies in mid July, and then currently I am due to have a break during August and early September to work on GCA stuff, although I will continue to teach (journal- and printmaking) in my studio – classes can be booked via my website. And I will be busy again in the autumn with Dapper & Suave, DGA, SAOS and the GCA event.

So, if anyone knows of any interesting opportunities, either for me personally or for GCA – please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.


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