Saturday, 22 December 2012

Letters from New Zealand

I have been posting for the last few weeks, but I know that many of you will want an update on Alysn and the MMs on their new adventure.  So now and again Alysn will send me some words on life, art and food from her new home down under.  So here's the first.....

Letters from New Zealand

To say that I have had a hectic few weeks including a week in the photographic studio at Search Press for my new book, sorting and packing a large house, including washing everything that has been in contact with soil in water then Jeyes fluid to satisfy the New Zealand biosecurity rules and finalising the arrangements for the Beetroot Trees’ future amongst other bits and pieces, might be an understatement. But, in time honoured British fashion, understatement is king.

However, it has all in been for a good cause!

Backtracking a couple of years and you would have found my husband, our children and my parents in a large camper van touring New Zealand as a holiday, mostly getting very wet and almost getting involved in the Christchurch earthquakes. For a variety of reasons, we came to the decision that as a family we would move to New Zealand to make a new home. Gradually we jumped all of the hurdles for visas, my husband was offered a job. So for the last year he, the two girls, our dogs and the cat have been living in Mairangi Bay near to Auckland.


For me it was a more complicated time.

As you may know, I have developed and owned the Beetroot Tree since 1999. This has been a project which has been pretty much all consuming at times and was not one which I was willing to walk away from without securing its future. The Beetroot Tree developed from an initial dream of creating a place to work for myself and to provide an outlet for the contemporary artwork of other makers, designers and artists and to have a space to encourage the creative streak in as many people as possible, I feel that in many ways it has achieved this and has become a beacon and a haven for thousands of visitors each year.
So this last year has been spent pursuing avenues to find a new owner or partner. Eventually we have managed to do just that. You will have been seeing through the Beetroot Tree website, facebook, tweets, newsletters etc. that Paul Storer has become a partner in the gallery and will be bringing his enormous skills and energy to the gallery. It has been a dream of Pauls to develop a gallery just like the Beetroot Tree. This means that now he has joined us he will be building on firm foundations. With this sorted, and my involvement continuing via email and skype to support Paul and the team, I am able to relax.

I have spent a great deal of time in my studio developing new ideas for a book which Search Press commissioned. It will be called something like ‘Stitch, fibres, metal and mixed media’ and is due out in September 2013. The photographs of the work were booked in for the end of November in at the Search Press HQ in Tunbridge Wells. I am now waiting for the book layout to be sent so that I can work on the words.

Night Time

In addition to that I have had a full complement of workshops and talks throughout the year around the UK, this I will continue to do, but in more compact blocks of time. For 2013 I will be in the UK teaching between the 20th June and early August and again from early October to the end of November. For full details, see my ‘out and about’ page on Rather excitingly, I also have made some new contacts in New Zealand and have talks and workshop bookings starting in January 2013. Obviously I have much learning and networking still to do, but there is time for that after Christmas. For anyone interested (wherever you are) in contacting me about my work, my email is

After that brief run through the past year, move forward to the end of November. A container arrived to take all of our worldly goods onto a ship and we hope to be reunited with it all by the end of January. Though where it will be put in our rented accommodation is still a question without an answer!
An uneventful plane journey ended with all five of the Midgelow-Marsden’s reunited, at least for a month, until Alex returns to the UK for University and Bryony returns to the UK for three weeks to catch up with friends. After which my parents are with us for a month, which I hope makes up to them something for it having been the first Christmas they will have spent without us and which we are in very bad books for.

The first week has passed quickly. Time being spent rearranging the house, making decorations and cards for Christmas (bizarrely interspersed with sunbathing), starting to establish the domestic routines and because Alex is with us, quite a bit of climbing has been done also.

Making Paper Chains in the Sunshine

In future episodes I hope to give you a flavour of the life here both in general and any art, craft and textile news I find and think you might be interested in.

Oh well, better go and take the dogs to the beach now. Have fun.

Off to the Beach

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