April – June Willow Days Postponed
Please accept my apologies that I haven’t posted on my website news page sooner and if you are booked on one of my April – June Willow Days that I haven’t as yet emailed you.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic I am postponing all my Willow Basket & Animal Sculpture Days from now until the end of June. I will continue to be following government advice and will update you as soon as I can with a new set of dates for later this year. I am aiming to transfer your bookings to one of these dates and to continue to hold my Willow Days at Coates English Willow on the Somerset Levels.
If you have any questions about my Willow Days please do email me. I may not be able to reply immediately but I will do my very best to respond to you as soon as I am able.
I have written below about the effect that the last week has had upon my work and life – feel free to skip this or read!
I really appreciate your understanding and support at this incredibly challenging time for us all, Sarah X
After a pretty difficult 6 months of my life, from which I felt I was just emerging, the last 6 days have added a whole new dimension that seems to be dramatically shifting daily!
In order for me to make a viable living doing the craft that I love, whilst also being a single mum for 7 1/2 years, I have concentrated upon creating a successful teaching business. Furthermore, in recent years I have chosen to focus upon making, teaching and training myself in traditional English willow basketmaking. Although far less viable than my origins in willow animal sculpture, this traditional craft form is very much under threat in the UK. I have been determined not only to learn and increasingly teach to the best of my ability the techniques and skills involved, but to also try and help save commercial basketmaking in the UK. Not only had I finally reached a really exciting point in my journey where my own teaching business and teaching basketmaking for high profile organisations was thriving, but some incredibly exciting commissions were opening up to me.
In a week everything has changed! Within 48 hours of the governments announcement on Monday 16th, organisations that I was due to be teaching for cancelled and commissions had begun to evaporate. By last Thursday 19th I learnt that I was going to be home educating my 8 and 12 year old girls whilst simultaneously trying to create an income. As much as I would love it to be, making baskets daily isn’t currently a sustainable living and as the sole household income provider with very little external financial support it certainly isn’t a viable option for me. After the Prime Minister’s briefing on Friday evening I was so wishing that I had the ability to ‘fire’ myself and then hopefully have an 80% wage. Being wholly self-employed I’m continuing to closely watch the increasing lobbying for better support and whilst I know that there are a myriad ways of being self employed, I do know that my mortgage company was able to easily know from HMRC my earnings, average them out, and work out what I could then borrow. After last night’s announcement and yet another sleepless night, at least I now know that my children will still be able to have contact with their father.
5 years ago I took part in an EU funded project, called Netplants, working with organisations from 5 countries the aim was to enable many people facing economic or social issues across Europe to become more proficient in valuable skills including cooking, growing vegetables, foraging and earning a living from natural arts. I taught basketmaking and learnt so much from both local and foreign experts. At the time I remember wondering why out of the hundreds of projects that were proposed to the EU each year, of the 20 or so they chose to support, why this particular one. I’m beginning to now know and to realise how lucky I am. We will somehow get through this chaos and change, we can use our skills and knowledge to support each other.