Over the next couple of weeks, I am focussing on Preston’s creatives who are selling their beautiful creations online and at Christmas markets.
Joey Afrin Black set up her small business the Crafty Hebridean after a period of illness. She is also the person behind The Larder’s Christmas mini-markets.
Here Joey talks about her art and how the support of Vine House and Mandala Yoga and Wellbeing has aided her creativity and recovery.
What inspired you to set up Crafty Hebridean?
I have some friends who are very artistic and creative, and the plan was that three of us would share stalls selling our crafts. After a period of illness, I retired early and carried out the plan. They fired me up but then found work and family commitments prevented them from continuing crafting and so I am now the only one with a house full of wool and buttons!
I needed a name for my stalls and online shops and because of my Western Isles’ roots, I decided on Crafty Hebridean.
Tell me a bit about the artwork you create and the materials you use.
I have found myself developing a few different practices. From attending lessons I have learned to draw and paint using a number of media – acrylic, gouache and oils. I also love to create scenes using wools and tweeds sourced in Harris and Lewis to replicate the hues of the Hebridean shores. My crafty items are also created using the recycled and remnants of tweed and buttons – I love using buttons.
What do you love about the landscape in the Hebrides?
What is not to love! Apart from the fact it has a real draw for me as my childhood happy summer home, it is undeniably gorgeous. The beaches are quiet, sometimes empty even in the height of summer, and the seas are powerful with beautiful Caribbean hues.
What I have really loved is bringing the shore and ocean colours for all of the different beaches we hang out at. I also love the moors, punctuated with lochs, and the huge skies, whether they are grey or blue – I will stop now but could go on for much longer.
Tell me about the art workshops you have been involved with at Vine House.
As part of the support and therapy provided by Vine House Cancer Help in Ribbleton, I started art lessons. This allowed me to develop my practice from crafty bits and pieces using recycled wools, buttons, and tweeds to painting with acrylics and oils. I had no idea that I had any ability to paint but hoped that they would train me to paint with watercolours so I could depict the beauty of the Hebrides that way.
However, Sharon Steingold is an excellent ex-higher education lecturer who helped me find my real style and technique. Although I love painting still life and abstract pieces using oils, acrylic, and gouache, my favourite practice is creating scenes from the islands using Harris tweed and recycled wools I am developing all the time thanks to the Vine House provision.
Who does Vine House support?
Vine House support groups are available to anyone who is either living with, recovering from, or is supporting a family member with cancer. They offer a whole range of support and anyone in these situations should give them a call to see what help they can access.
It is an awful time and Vine House is one of the places where either the cancer sufferer can escape for support and respite, or their family can access support to help them deal with the situation. They are amazing.
Tell me about your involvement with The Mandala.
One of the awful side effects of having a cancer diagnosis, chemo treatment, and continuing hormone therapy is the screechingly high levels of stress hormones running through your body. I was advised by the team treating me to try yoga and relaxation therapies to help with this.
After visiting a few classes I tried one at Mandala – it was a perfect fit for me because it is such a fabulous friendly welcoming community. I now know exactly which class to do depending on whether I am tired or stressed. The additional therapies like Sound Therapy and Groove are brilliant ways to shake the anxiety out of your system.
I cannot recommend it highly enough and I was thrilled when they asked me to become a Volunteer Director on the Community Interest Company Board.
Have you also been involved in community art workshops at The Mandala?
The Mandala did work together with They Eat Culture during the lockdowns and I participated in some of the art-based workshops with them.
I would love for us to set up some more creative workshops in the future at the yoga centre as it is a great way of encouraging people who maybe don’t feel inclined to go to a place like Mandala to come through the doors, feel at home and then hopefully feel inclined to try out a class or two.
What inspired you to set up the Christmas mini-markets at The Larder?
Victoria from The Larder made me do it! We sat down and had a brainstorm when I volunteered to help out with the Art at the Larder project, which she developed. We figured that a Christmas market would create an opportunity for us to both raise some income for The Larder and also to provide local artists, crafters and creatives with a market stall in the city centre to sell handmade Christmas presents.
It is also an ideal outlet for our prolific knitting group at the weekly Thursday morning Knitting Café.
Where do you sell your work?
I will be at The Larder’s Made for Christmas markets on Saturday 11 and Saturday 18 December and I will also be selling my work at the Christmas fair at the Black Bull pub in Fulwood on Sunday 12 December.