Case Study:
Charlotte Watters: Go & See – Orkney Workshops

This March Emergents supported  artist and designer/maker Charlotte Watters to attend events we were organising in Kirkwall, Orkney. As well as being a designer Charlotte also runs a shop in Ullapool called Cabinet

Read below Charlotte’s report of her time at these events: 

Recipe for your Business Success Workshop
Tuesday 7 March 2017

I applied for Go and See funding to attend two Craft related business events being held in Kirkwall this March:  Recipe for your Business Success and XpoNorth on the Road Kirkwall.  It was an inspiring trip for me to travel to the beautiful Orkneys and have the chance to meet and speak with some energising, experienced and knowledgeable professionals. These workshops were very well organised and the support emergents offers running such events is invaluable.  The Go and see Funding I was awarded was a great help financially in making this trip but it is also very encouraging and personally supportive to have been given this assistance.

The first day was a day long workshop entitled Recipe for your Business Success with Carol Sinclair, Helen Voce and guest speaker Patricia Niemann.

The workshop was led by Carol Sinclair who is a freelance trainer and ceramist. She was an engaging and compelling speaker. With the themes of ‘Essential Ingredients’ and how best to use these in ones own individual business ‘Recipe’ we were encouraged to identify the current strengths and future aspirations for our businesses.

A useful exercise we were asked to do was to consider what ‘success’ looks like for us each individually. We were encouraged to focus on what we are aiming to achieve within a given timeframe to give us goals to aim towards and so we might recognise these when they are attained. In pairs we introduced and discussed our own businesses and then presented each others to the group. This in itself was a helpful exercise, to hear your ideas and words presented back from another view point.

The workshop investigated and elaborated on the ‘essential ingredients’, these being Profile, Reward, Skills  and Relationships and questioned how we might effectively balance these to our best advantage.

Helen Voce, an and independent project manager, events producer and trainer documented the dialog and presented summaries and observations from the conversations being had through the day. This has been shared online as a reminder of points raised and an ongoing conversation for attendees to contribute to.

Patricia Niemann is a “qualified goldsmith and designer for gemstones, jewellery and studio glass” based in Caithness. Patricia presented a talk about her own practice encompassing the broad range of work she makes from jewellery commissions to art and installation work.

Patricia’s work references the landscape she lives in and its human history. She explores her interests in archeology and the human body in a variety of materials and mediums such as silver, glass, textiles, bone and peat.  She spoke very openly and honestly about the route that had taken her to this point in her career and about the importance of finding a balance in her work between commercial commissions and her more explorative and less commercial pieces which inspire much of what she does.  It was very valuable to hear from an experienced and successful maker about her inspiration, process and development path.

This workshop helped to highlight the value of planning and ways of balancing the different aspects of ones business practice with other personal commitments. It was very good to hear about different ways of working and to discuss similarities in the challenges and aspirations we each have working in the Creative industries in the Highlands and Islands.

Making it Here: running a successful international craft business from the Highlands and Islands Part of the XpoNorth On the Road day – Kirkwall Orkney
Wednesday 8 March

First on the bill for this day long series of talks and workshops for the XpoNorth on the Road event was a conversation on Craft.

Fiona Chautard started the session with her introduction to the Emergents Trends service, designed to assist designers and craft, fashion and textile businesses in the Highlands and Islands keep current with what’s happening in the industry sector. Fiona spoke about the many features of support this service offers. This led on to a stimulating and thought provoking conversation between Helen Voce and Nairn based and internationally renowned jeweller Melanie Muir.

Melanie works with Polymer clay to produce bold and dynamic work inspired by the landscape and textures of her coastal area beside Nairn. Melanie spoke confidently and encouragingly about her practice. She has been showing her work internationally for some years in major trade shows in America and Europe. She discussed with Helen the value and importance of how she presents her pieces, made here in the Highlands, to an international audience. The notion of ‘story telling’ and how one presents and ‘frames what we do’ to the audience came up in conversation, a theme we discussed in the “Recipe for success workshop’ the day before.

She sited other important aspects to a successful practice as being the ability to ‘shift and change’, to plan for alterations and to be ‘nimble’ in ones approach and outlook. She spoke about ‘intel gathering’ as a key aid to keeping informed and able to adapt to changes in scenarios or ways of working. She also talked about ‘self preservation’ and ‘being good to ones self’ as a vital commitment to successful practice.  This was an inspiring conversation to listen to. Helen skillfully prompted and questioned Melanie on her practice to develop a rich and thoughtful conversation.

Charlotte Watters , March 2017