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Can you tell us about your experience of being part of the Starter Studio Programme for silversmiths and jewellers? My time, so far on the Starter Studio Programme has been great in many ways: being part of a studio full of like-minded people; having the opportunity to develop my skills as a designer-maker; and having the time to really get my business off the ground. It has been a huge challenge at times having to juggle my time spent in the studio creating a new collection of work and understanding the financial side of things, as well as getting to grips with being business minded as well as a creative maker - this has at times been tricky. However, I feel 100 times more confident than I did last year, I have developed a range of jewellery that I am really happy with and have kick-started my career in the craft industry. At Yorkshire Artspace you are thrown together with people at different stages of their career and this is great in that you can gain knowledge from one another and bounce ideas around. It is such a supportive environment set within a wonderful building full of interesting people working in many different disciplines.
What do you feel you have been able to achieve whilst being part of the programme which you would otherwise not have been able to achieve? The support I have received whilst being on the programme has been invaluable, I have been lucky enough to have my mentor Rebecca Joselyn who I am in touch with on an almost daily basis and who I discuss things with whenever I need to. She has been great at helping me build my confidence and to focus on my strong points. There are also the other mentors around who are all happy to help and give advice, which is always handy! This year I have already attended my first 2 craft shows, which have been very successful and have more lined up in the next few months. I couldn’t have done this without the girls that I share a studio with- we are all such good friends, we help and support one another and it makes being in a shared workshop so much fun! Every week Cameron Maxfield is there to give us guidance on technical skills and he has been a brilliant help to me with tool making and some design inspiration! For the businessy side of things we had the Starting Out course in our first year run by Mir, who is an endless supply of knowledge and is there for all of us whenever we need her. If I hadn’t been on the Programme I don’t think that I would be in the position that I am now, I feel very lucky to have got my place in the studio and will be forever grateful for all the wonderful people I have got to know whilst being here.
And what do you hope to do after completing the programme in October this year? In my final year I have developed my technical skills and business acumen and feel that I am in a strong position to continue to build on what I have learnt and achieved when the programme finishes. My focus for the next year will be to continue to push my skills, create new ranges of jewellery to take to craft fairs and exhibitions and to get my work into more galleries across the country. I cannot imagine doing anything else and although it can be a little tough at times, I am sure all of us in the starter studio will go on to have very bright futures! I think I would say to any future programme beneficiaries: work hard! Embrace being part of this studio and take full advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn from all the amazing people that you will be surrounded by but most of all, just enjoy it! Cathy
Cathy will take part in Yorkshire Artspace's first 18th May Jewellery Day selling event at Persistence Works Studios, 21 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS. 23 designer jewellers will display and sell their work from £15 upwards, between 11am and 5pm. In collaboration with MADE North gallery.