Back in August 2018, Av Evans-White and I returned to the beautiful tithe barn of Messums Wiltshire for our second year, and in Av’s case, his third! THIS GIRL MAKES had been invited to take part in their Material: Wood Exhibition and events program in a variety of ways.
First of all, my final piece from my degree in furniture design and make at Rycotewood Furniture Centre in Oxford, Corkey’s Cabinet, was personally delivered by Av to the gallery at the beginning of August, where it was displayed throughout the exhibition. For a young woman entering into the craft and design industry, this was an amazing opportunity. Not only was my work to be publically showcased to the many visitors to this prestigious art gallery, but it was also rubbing shoulders with some of the very best contemporary designers and makers in wood. Intimidated? Not at all… It was definitely a personal milestone for me as a maker, exhibiting work alongside some key figures of the industry, those whose careers I have followed throughout my design education and who have significantly inspired my own creative practice.
Next on the agenda was to present the THIS GIRL MAKES project through a one-hour long talk hosted in the barn. Anyone who attended this event knows how nervous I was to begin with, despite having delivered several talks of a similar nature before. I suppose I let my mind run away with me, but when you stop to think of how old the Tithe Barn is (dating back to the 14th century*) and how many people have passed through it before me, it is hard to not feel a little insignificant. However I soon got into my stride and was able to roll through explaining the development of the project and all of its achievements to date. Being given this platform to share my project was the biggest of compliments, but also an important part of nurturing the continuation of craft and design within the UK. I am sure, based on my own experiences, there are many other organisations helping and supporting the work of other aspiring designers and makers.
It is also worth mentioning that having fellow designers, makers, and Rycotewood alumni attend my talk, to show (I guess) solidarity and their support was another huge compliment! And being able to catch up over a pub meal afterwards was just an added surprise bonus.
* For more information on the history of Messums Wiltshire and the tithe barn, visit: https://messumswiltshire.com/about-us-history/