Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

where did time go? where is summer?

Spring and summer came and exploded into work action, but sadly not actually spring or summer weather. Here we are a couple of day’s from midsummer, and i’m still wearing the layers of jumpers and thermals i did all winter. It is getting boring, and yes depressing! Stupid weird weather. However life has not been boring, it has been mad busy, too busy, i’m finding my brain working less and less, every day is different, which is of course very interesting, but it takes a lot of energy to remember where i am supposed to be, what i’m doing and have i prepped? Even lists of lists can’t save me from the chaos ! So Tuesdays and sometimes Monday’s I’m tutoring Pottery in Inverness, with many different groups, small children, grown ups, teenagers, people with different degrees of support needs. Mondays or Friday’s I’m staffing the community shop, gallery, gift shop information point thing/ project. Thursday’s i have 3 regular classes in my own Pop Up Pottery, which may be over subscribed or may have no-one turn up, which is a bit random, but folks are starting to get the hang of booking or contacting me if they’re not coming, which makes juggling prep and activities a bit easier. The rest of the time, I’m all over the place and very busy doing various roles with the community development work, i get paid a small amount of hours but actually do around 5x more work than that. Sometimes i’m resigned to pushing on & keeping things moving forward, doing what it needs, other times i’m tearing my hair out with frustration and on the verge of going on strike. What i actually do with that is; marketing, social media, websites, events, volunteering days, coordinating, reports, write ups, buying in retail goods, staffing the desk, forest officer liaison, cleaning, grass cutting, venue hire bookings, sales records, budgets, maintenance plans, H&S, policies, risk assessments, enquiries, design, advertising, overseeing employment contracts, tenders, planning and on and on. I certainly learn a lot of new things, this last few weeks i’m having to get my head around timber harvesting contracts, road building, path design, tree seed collecting, drainage and so on, and on.
I’m also scrabbling around trying to create some sort of art or pottery for me to sell, to earn some much needed pennies. Bruno’s leg operation vet bill at Easter will take months to catch up from, it’s very frustrating running around running community businesses, and helping people with their businesses, when i lack the time and capital to do much with my own. Running the Pop Up Pottery was almost a protest, to try and claw something back for myself, but it is taking a long time to get some actual pots made that i am happy enough to say ” look, this is what i make”, often the pots are random bits and bobs made during the process of demonstrating to students ( students is the wrong word really, class attendees, participants, punters? ) . I am frustrated that i still have a lot of pain in my right arm if i try to draw or paint, but thankfully i can throw pots for a reasonable length of time before it plays up. I do love clay time, i love working with all these various people, some of them are so lovely, enquiring, creative and just downright nice people. It’s inspiring seeing the clay, and the workspace through their eyes. It is a fantastic workspace, great to be free to do all the pottery processes in one place. Though i’m sure i spend more time cleaning between classes than i do creating!  Better dash, doing a class with some elderly folks from the local day care centre shortly, demonstrating throwing a pot is still stressful for me, i loose the zen oneness with the pot when i talk it through and it is more likely to go wonky.
Here are some photos from this last two hectic months….20150502_170150



Sun beams through the floor sweeping dust.20150514_14571120150611_105932 - CopyDora dog sometimes visits and wants to catch the mice that live around the place. I hope she doesn’t!20150611_110658 - CopyA busy morning class.

I WAs lucky to get a trip to Knoydart to learn more about community forestry and woodfuel businesses, 3 weeks on i still haven’t had time to write my proper report for the company. Thankfully the sun came out that day, because it involved an open boat trip, which was great !

Here is Piotr, our Forest Officer and comrade in juggling all this work stuff. This is a wood fuel processor which is the sort of thing we need to get, from somewhere, with no money.20150530_133210

This is a rather lovely log cabin that got made as part of a training course, this is also the type of thing we’re planning.



Then one morning we woke up to find that someone had managed to crash into both of our cars parked up on the roadside, and no sign of any information or note. So that was all a load of stress and hassal, polis etc, ongoing, trying to get cars repaired and deal with insurance etc. In a small community like this it took nanoseconds for everyone to know everything that had happened, who what where, and that’s that, enough said. It’s all sorting itself out.

then the blue bells came out at the community wee wooded walk, how pretty, all i see is work to do though ( workparty on 28th to deal with grass, paths brambles etc, all welcome ) 20150607_123005-EFFECTS
my indulgence and therapy during busy overworked, overloaded times like this, is my garden, growing veggies, and chickens! these are our new chickens that joined the family in June. I wuv them. It’s great after a hard day at the office to pop to the bottom of the garden and sit with them a whiles.20150511_08492020150605_13485420150608_165736
Then this book arrived, that i’d done the cover for and organised the printing of, a local chap had done a load of research into the men who were involved locally in WW1, lots of interesting stuff. Logistics of pulling the book together less so. Will be putting all the info on a website as soon as i get time. 20150609_08320620150610_162437Meanwhile, the craft/art group who set themselves up as a separate group to run our community gallery & shop ( with 20% space for our community organisation fundraising & a visitors information desk as part of the reduced rent deal ), well after 2 months they’ve decided they can’t make the rent, so just when it’s getting busy with tourists, we’re thrown in the deep end having to take it over and iron out everything, anyway our sales are good, visitor numbers are good, but it’s no fun trying to market something that no-one can even agree on a name for after 3 years ! My favorite proverb is ” these are not my monkeys, this is not my circus”, but sadly it usually still falls back to me to deal with whatever circus seems to have appeared.

Here is us at our official road opening ceremony. this is the new access road to the community forest. we’re all a bit soaking wet, and if i look drawn and exhausted…yes. Still it went well in the end and a lot of folks attended despite the relentless heavy rain.
20150605_Cutting the ribbon_2287 - Copy20150605_Cutting the ribbon_2296 - Copy20150614_114035
therapy! the handmade poly thing is growing veggies much faster than the cold greenhouse this year.20150523_183259 20150611_204812 - Copy
then there was a papermaking workshop in Inverness last weekend.
20150613_105045 - CopyBehold the chickens again! how cute they are…. must dash. Hopefully more coherent ramblings soon.20150608_165822-EFFECTS


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This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in Blog.

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Hen hugs are the best.
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