That’s what I’d said to everyone – come celebrate. I’m having a party to start the Open Studio weekend. Come along!
No one actually knew how big a deal it was. For me, it was huge. I wanted to mark my natural progression from sharing the show with someone else, to running my own shebang. From being the one with the timid voice, grateful for any tiny crumb of recognition, to being the one up front. I wanted to say – this is it. I’ve built this, from nothing, through sheer determination alone, and I’m doing it and you can’t stop me, and nor am I going to stop myself.*
Obviously, the way to do this was a party and a killer outfit and bare feet.
But, you know, it’s not easy having a party if you don’t actually enjoy parties. Or at least, you usually do when you get there, but you also own a badge that says I’m sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come, and that’s it in a nutshell. So when it’s your OWN party – so important to you, so meaningful – phew. You have to take the preparations bit by bit and hide your passport.
I bought something to wear, which is the understatement of the decade. Gosh, I love that outfit. It has pockets, for a start. I gave myself an hour to find something in Anthropologie. It was like a sartorial supermarket sweep. I tried on a million dresses at lightening speed. No. No. Yes… but, no. No. No. No. Yes, wow, I’ll have that anyway. No. No. Yes? To the assistant: Yes? OMG YES, madam. Credit card. Done.
You would think that actually making the work would be the scariest part, but people, that’s easy. That’s what I do. I had heaps of it, all ready to show. It was fun, dressing up my kitchen to be like a gallery, and it looked so pretty you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t want it to be pretentious/fancy/posh and arty farty. Heck, there’s enough of that in the world already, and it’s not me, anyway. I wanted friendly, fun, and cheeky but serious, which is basically my motto. I wanted something for everyone, lots of magic and plenty of style.
I loved the mixture of more expensive paintings propped next to sweet £5 decorations to pop in an envelope and send to a friend. The sort of thing I paint for fun of a rainy afternoon with the radio on. And indeed, over the weekend I sold all of those little things to delighted customers stocking up on their present drawers.
I kept a few kitchen things hanging around, because you know, cooking spoons are quite beautiful to look at.
And as famous as I might one day become, I hope and expect to be always selling treasure from a cardboard box. That’s the way I roll.
I ordered flowers from Annie’s organic cutting garden, just up the road. They were so beautiful, and meeting Annie – a fellow rebel with a kindred spirit – was meant to be. When she suggested she arrange the flowers in my paint water pots, that was it, I fell in love with her. Take my money now.
And you can’t have a party without people, and I know some lovely ones!
Oh, boy, I smiled and talked so much to so many friends my face began to ache.
And then I made a (very short) speech.
And then I was saved (and embarrassed) by an impromptu speech by Roger, who knew me when I was 10, and who travelled miles specially for a glass of champagne, and to celebrate with me.
Then we did studio tours, and carried on as the sun went down, but more on that, and the rest of the weekend, in Part 2 tomorrow.
Thank you for coming, everyone. It was great to share it with you.
*There was a point when I almost did, around January. But now I have an outfit to wear again 🙂 Anyone want to go out to dinner?