Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Looking back on 2014 and Looking forward to 2015

Well, 2014 is nearly over and what a year it has been! I had moved to Berlin, Germany with my partner in 2012 and there we met some of the nicest people I have ever met, making some wonderful lifelong friends along the way and sharing some amazing experiences. I feel very lucky to have been able to live in another country, to work in a foreign language and learn about a different culture firsthand. It completely opened my eyes and was a great experience. 

This March my partner proposed to me! He had spent months helping to design the ring, which is based on my artwork. The band is slender white gold and there is an organic cluster of 7 diamonds- one for each year we had been together. It also reminds me of stars and as I love watching a starry sky, now I just need to look down at my hand :). I love the ring- it's perfect and he couldn't have got it more right!

We moved home to Ireland soon after and I thought I would miss the luxuries and conveniences of city life- being able to pop downstairs to the cafe that we lived over to get a coffee when my caffeine craving hit, meeting up with friends- in particular Mikael and Sandra, the amazing shops, galleries and museums, everything being on tap and on demand, the low cost and yet high quality of living and mainly living in a country that is run efficiently with a government that isn't full of monkeys that are robbing you blind (of course there are monkeys in every government but the Irish government is particularly bad!) 

Of course we missed things in Berlin- cycling in the Summer through the city, beautiful and scary thunder and lightning storms, the lovely community in the area that we lived in with the great food markets where people shopped locally, the huge mix of different nationalities and cultures and I missed my friends (great friendship is priceless and I am convinced that it adds years to your life!) and the brilliant transport system and general freedom that the city offered. 

But everywhere has it's pros and cons and we had grown out of the city, and city life. We missed home- the amazing landscape with it's green fields, woods, cliffs, the sea, the clear starry skies that you only get in the countryside, the great food that makes West Cork a foodies dream and such a popular tourist destination and of course our family and friends. When we went back to visit, we got to see the country from a new perspective and appreciate it a lot more. We could see that although the Irish people are being screwed by their government, this is a rich and bountiful country that has a lot to offer. The wealth is in the land- in the landscape, in the tradition, in the music, in the people. It is our home. 

We brought our little cat Poppy back with us- at the end of the 26 hour journey we were all exhausted! After a year and 3 months of living in our Berlin apartment, Poppy finally got to see more nature than the communal garden in our apartment building. She is now the happiest cat we could have hoped for and runs, leaps and bounds around the countryside. 

She explores the forest and comes home smelling of pine trees, she catches mice and even catches little shrews for Mia...the latest addition to our little family. We have now had Mia for 6 months and she is an equally happy cat (napping on my feet as I type this!).  

In June my Grandma passed away which was a sad time for my family but at 91 she had lived a great life and lived to a very good age. As we had grown up with my Grandma at the bottom of the lane calling in to her when we got home from school and having knitting sessions with her where she taught me to knit, crochet and follow patterns when I was young, I felt a great loss when she was gone. I loved hearing her stories about her past and think of her often. 

In July, a month before our wedding, my partner had a bad accident. He had to have surgery on his leg to remove a small but dangerous piece of metal that had fortunately just missed his femoral artery and had ended up deep inside his thigh. He was in hospital in Cork City for 3 nights and spent over two weeks recovering at home. Everyone kept telling me that you don't appreciate what you have until something happens but I already did appreciate it and was ready to marry this man. I feel so incredibly grateful that he has made an almost full recovery. 

The countryside of West Cork is really breathtaking. Where we live (about a mile and a half off The Wild Atlantic Way) we open our door to views of the sea and mountains, with a forest about a hundred yards away and family nearby. This was the ideal location for our wedding reception which we had in August with only our closest family. The most amazing thing that has happened this year was marrying my best friend, my perfect match and ideal man. The 8 years that we have spent together have flown by and we have grown up together. I love the man that he has become more every day- creative, talented, clever, interesting and always interested, always learning. And of course I think he's absolutely gorgeous with his Scandinavian looks (half Danish, very Viking!) ;). I look forward to growing old with him and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. 

So, that's the highlights of my personal life in 2014. My creative life has also had an interesting year. Aside from exhibiting in Cork City in 2020 Art Gallery and in the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen, I exhibited in London and Paris for the first time. I worked on various commissions which included my first wedding stationery commission. 

I printed my first range of digital cards which are stocked nationally in Ireland and also in Berlin.  

I created some new work- both illustrative and fine art. I also had some of these designs printed on metal.

'Blue Butterfly'

'Sea Pottery'

I updated my designs that are available on various products from my Society6 store, and also joined Nuvango and Casetify. 

As you will already know if you're reading this, I love to blog! From January- October 2014, I interviewed a hand picked selection of amazing creatives based all over the world for the Artist Features section of my blog. Of these 23 talented individuals I am pleased to say that 7 are from Ireland (there's a lot of homegrown talent here!) Other creatives are based in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Finland, Ukraine, America and South Africa. 

I then created 5 Christmas Gift Guides featuring work by a selection of creatives from my Artist Features. The guides contained 97 different products by 14 creatives. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is and am happy to say that I have work by half of these designers and artists- which includes 7 of the featured items and several more pieces from the same designers. 

Here are just a few of the things that I own and love..

I bought this beautiful necklace by Catherine's Studio to wear on my wedding day in August..

One of three beautiful dishes I have by Mairi Stone...

A beautiful card by Katharine Watson that I have on my studio wall..

I love this print by Jane Ormes (as does Poppy!) and my Mother in law framed it for us for Christmas..

2014 has been a busy year for me! This year my focus has been on family and friends and I have learnt that money isn't the only thing that brings wealth. Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2015,

Lily x