Last weekend I visited one of my favourite places – Staithes, on the North Yorkshire Coast. It’s a fishing village steeped in history and tradition with cobbled streets and rows of beautiful cottages. Whenever I visit it has an instant calming effect, it’s a form of therapy! You park at the top of a steep bank and as you walk down towards the village and the harbour you find yourself leaving your troubles at the top and entering a place where you can switch off for however long your stay happens to be.
Every year Staithes holds an arts festival. Artists are encouraged to book a cottage for the weekend and use their space to exhibit their work. It’s fantastic being able to walk around the streets and alleyways and wander into the beautiful cottages and explore some art. On the streets outside are buskers, street theatre, walking tours, food stalls. On the evening lights illuminate the cliffs and other landmarks, it really is worth going to see.
That’s my bit done for Staithes tourism, I now want to talk about one of the artists who has been exhibiting his work since the festival started about 6 years ago, my brother-in-law, Stephen Stott.
Ste has always loved painting and was always told he had a real talent and should “do something with it”. So he did. He enrolled as a mature student on a Fine Art course, gained a degree and recieved great praise for his final exhibition. The first year he exhibited at Staithes he received lots of great feedback, and maybe sold one print, enough for a meal at the end of the weekend. The following year he returned to the same cottage, generated more interest, sold a few more and just about broke even on the cost of hiring the cottage and the materials he needed.
Ste always explained that it wasn’t about making money, he loved people coming in, chatting to him and taking an interest in his work. He kept developing, taking new paintings to exhibit each year and sticking to the type of painting that he wanted to do.
This year, by the time I had visited the festival on Sunday lunchtime he had practically sold out of paintings and prints! He now has people commissioning him to do pieces of art and his work is on display in galleries both nationally and internationally. He has hired the same cottage each year, slowly building his profile and developing his reputation. He also has the opportunity to pass on his skills and knowledge to the younger generation by working with groups of primary school children.
This is not a promotion piece for Ste but if you did want to check out his work…
The message I’m trying to get across today (probably not very clearly) is if you have a talent and a passion for something, do it, see where it leads you and takes you. Life is short, and life is busy. Find time to do something you love, something you enjoy, something that gives you confidence and that energy boost. If you have a musical instrument buried away in the loft, get it out clean it up. If you enjoyed playing years ago, you will soon pick it back up. If you loved singing, join a choir, if you’ve always wanted to act, join a theatre group. The great thing about being older is there’s less pressure, you’re doing it for you and not anybody else. It’s also great for your mental health to find something that allows you the time and space you need to escape for a bit.
The brilliant Jay Shetty produced this inspirational video which everyone should watch.
I’m off to practice my piano – see you at the Albert Hall!!