LCN story: embroidery artist Richard McVetis

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What major things happened to you during 2020?
The most significant change has been looking at and developing my income stream. Before Covid, 50% of my income came from teaching, delivering workshops and artist talks; with social distancing and consumer confidence being low for in-person gatherings, this all disappeared. I had to adapt pretty quickly and take everything online, leveraging my mailing list and social media audience to ensure that I could keep afloat. This has been successful, and I feel better able to weather any future problems.

What challenges did you face?
Creatively, it has been hard to focus or make new work, with energy and time spent elsewhere. I am hopeful that as a new routine sets in, I can restore some creative energy.

What successes did you have?
Despite lockdown, I could pivot my teaching practice to online, keeping my business and me afloat. This pandemic also forced me to speed up plans for online teaching, resulting in a larger market as location was not a limitation. I was also able to reduce travel time, environmental impact etc. The whole process of teaching became more efficient, and because of the accessibility of textiles and embroidery as a medium, more people were able to take part.

I also got to work on some virtual exhibitions, for example, ‘Of Time and Place’ with Living Object Gallery. This exhibition created a much-needed opportunity to talk and share my work in this new virtual world. The exhibition’s design was inspired by the architect and designer Frederick Kiesler’s concept of ‘elastic space’. Kiesler was fascinated by how theatre and exhibitions dissolve temporal and spatial boundaries. I also had the opportunity to create online content for Tate Britain.

I was able to take part in the Artist Support Pledge. This initiative created a focus for me at the initial onset of the pandemic and provided vital funds while still setting the online course.

What are you most proud of?
Maintaining my practice and being able to engage with so many people through stitch and making.

Richard is one of six maker profiled in the latest Cockpit Efffect Report, each illustrating different practices and experiences during 2020.