Directing a Lino Workshop
I don’t know what came over me in 2019, but I had art on the mind and a fire under my arse. I said goodbye to my uni friends and travelled home for the Easter holidays, determined to kickstart some practical art experience. I had taken some art classes with Tom Boyle, founder of the Lancaster Atelier of Fine Art, the year before and reached out to him to see if he knew of anywhere that might be looking for art workshops. He pointed me to the floor below his studio where, literally down the stairs, lived a quaint café called the Herbarium. They frequently have local art on the walls, sell tasty local coffee, and serve them in beautiful locally made ceramics. I took a breath and sent a carefully worded and very hopeful email. To my surprise, pretty quickly we were organising the details of a workshop.
I trekked from my partner’s flat, backpack heavy and stuffed with art supplies and a squished sandwich for lunch. There were some difficulties starting (the café was closed when I turned up, and I had to make a few frantic calls) but once things got going I spent an exciting weekend meeting new people and sharing my enthusiasm for printmaking with a variety of people. It was so heartening to hear that by the end of the workshop people were keen to go get their own printmaking sets and explore more themselves.
So the weekend had been a success! I tried to keep costs low for people attending, and the café took a share for the room I stole from them, so I didn’t leave with a lot in my pocket but it was enough to cover the train tickets. We organised another workshop for the summer, during an arts week in Lancaster.
It was a sweltering summer full of hazy memories and seeing my old friends again. It was also the weekend of Lancaster Pride, and the small city was thrumming with sound and colour, and now happy lino printers too! This time I brought my own artwork with me too, hanging it up and, for the first time, having to figure out a price list in case anyone wanted to purchase a print (spoiler; no one did). I ran 4 2-hour workshops over the weekend, hastily wiping the tables down and washing the rollers in between each one. I hadn’t done something like this before, and I really threw myself in, trying to adapt when things didn’t go to plan. I’m proud of myself for doing it! I’m a big overthinker and worrier, but I managed to push past that and instead focus on the people who turned up and their excitement.
Safe to say I learned a lot by doing this. On day 1 I learned that things can go wrong. But its ok, take a deep breath and work it through. I was taught through experience that for this sort of environment its good to be flexible, tailoring each workshop to the people who turn up, have a couple of backup plans. Stick up for the work that you've done, and maybe organise how much you'll be paying for space before the workshop is over, or you'll end up awkwardly bartering politely about how much your time is worth. And finally, this was a huge step towards me feeling confident in my skills. I was young and inexperienced, I still am, but I certainly have added more skills to my arsenal after this amazing adventure.