Inspirational Learning Journeys

We never stop learning. We certainly never stop learning in the 52 Stitched Stories community. Lockdown seemed to propel us into learning journeys that were spontaneous and very welcome at such a difficult time. But while most of us were going off in all manner of random journeys involving drying tea bags and foraging for plants to dye with (to name but two) two members were busy studying away on their respective art courses. Both girls are shining examples of life long learning and powerful role models to their children as well as the rest of us. I asked Judy and Clare to tell us about their studies in the hope that it might inspire others to get back to the ‘classroom’.

Judy is a very active member of our community and pops up regularly. Like me, she has four children so life is very hectic. Nevertheless, as soon as her children were grown up she took her chance and enrolled in a journey of studying that appears to know no boundaries. Fabulous. I will let Judy tell her own story.

With my children growing up and going off to uni I realised I could now think about something that I wanted to do, just for me. I had wanted to learn more about free motion embroidery for a while and by chance I saw a post on Facebook about a level 1 textiles course starting locally. I messaged the tutor but the course was full. Never mind I thought, maybe it’s not meant to be. Then a fortnight later I had a message to say someone had dropped out so there was a place available, if I would like it. I was very nervous and almost didn’t go but I’m so glad I did. I met a lovely group of women and had the chance to explore new techniques in textiles, my Friday mornings became an absolute joy! Although I had crafted all my life, knitting, crochet and dressmaking, this course gave me the chance to really explore my own creativity. I completed level 1 in July 2019 and enrolled for level 2 immediately. During this course I was able to develop my skills further and gain confidence in my own ideas and my abilities. I completed my final project in June 2020 and am now hoping to begin level 3 in September. To anyone who is at all interested in studying textiles and learning new skills I would say go for it, it’s really worth it.’

The following gallery shows just some of the work Judy has created on her course. I am always drawn to Judy’s attention to detail and her deep connection with texture.

I have know Clare since the beginning of 2013. She stumbled across my blog challenge as Scottish island mum where I was to blog every day for a year. Clare stayed by my side the whole year and we became firm friends. Clare is an inspiration to everyone she meets and I am delighted she agreed to share her story with us.

Thirty years ago,I went off to college straight from school. I graduated four years later, with a second class Hons degree in education. This had never been my first study choice! It was a panic, impulse decision, having not been accepted by Glasgow School of Art. I had been in the reserve list for The Scottish College of Textiles and didn’t get that chance either.
While I taught, I worked away in a WASPS studio at Irvine Harbourside mainly at weekends. Fortunate to have this chance, sponsored by the Scottish Arts Council.
I sold my work at arts & craft fairs and to visitors who came along to the studio. I married my husband and went on to have two daughters. Time didn’t allow me to keep working at the studio, so I regrettably said farewell to it.
My oldest daughter had health issues, which involved much time being spent in GOSH, in London and at that time I gave up teaching to become a full time mum. I had little to no time for my art work and life seemed to just take over.
A few years ago, life seemed to settle a little. I found I had little pockets of time, just for me. Time to stitch, to paint and do the things that made me feel like the old Clare again.
I started to sell at local craft fairs again and meet old and new friends.
A friend I had known fifteen years ago, caught up with me and said she had been studying fine art and design at college. She encouraged me to give it some thought. Having lost a lot of self confidence I found every excuse from “I’m too old! to I’m not good enough for college.” I think after having had a few glasses of wine, I decided to apply!- I didn’t tell a soul to begin with. Only when I was offered an interview did I mention a word. I as an offered a place at my interview to come and study for an HNC in fine art and design. I completed my course in May with an A in my graded unit. I’m so excited, to share, that I start back at college in September to study for my Diploma.
I had the best time at college. I met lots of new friends, some younger than me and others older.
I’ve had a chance to study life drawing, textile design, cermaics to jewellery making and so much more.‘

The following gallery shows just some of the work Clare did on her course. What strikes me is the wonderful range of media employed as well has the outstanding relationship Clare has with colour. Thank you Clare for sharing your story.

If you have ever thought about going back to studying I am not sure there has ever been a better time. The global pandemic has taught us much, not least how precious our lives are. There are many more ways to study that ever before. I home educated my four children and they all studied up to A level standard at home before two of them went off to university. I was amazed how many different distance learning courses there are out there. But I always advise you start your search at your local college as they might be able to help with study grants as well. I am a firm believer that there is an artist inside all of us. Studying will help you find it.
Thank you to Judy and Clare for sharing their stories with us. 🙏🙏❤️❤️

2 thoughts on “Inspirational Learning Journeys

  1. To Fiona, Clare and Judy, thank you for sharing these inspirational stories and letting us see such beautiful and talented work. I’ve been toying with the idea of further study (at almost 60) and this has spurred me on to look into it more. So enjoyed this post.


    1. I looked into doing my PHD last year but the supervisor I wanted was retiring. But I take online courses all the time, short and inexpensive but so rewarding. We are a bit limited with face to face options on the island, sadly. Do let me know if you decide to study. I am 55 and won’t be stopping for some time. 🙏❤️


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