Monday, 30 May 2011

Linda Wallace


Linda Wallace


Q So who is Linda Wallace?

First and foremost, I’m an artist.

Before throwing caution to the wind and going to art school in my forties, I was a registered nurse, a business owner in the Canadian High Arctic Islands, a traveller and lived aboard a sailboat for three years. From childhood, I’ve been attracted to cloth and fibre, to stitching, spinning and knitting, to drawing. During my four years at the Alberta College of Art and Design, I explored Japanese natural dye techniques, drawing, painting and sculpture. Then I was introduced to tapestry and life changed.

While my primary medium continues to be hand-woven tapestry, I explore other textile media and work both traditionally and conceptually. In addition to textiles, I also create drawings using fine graphite lines. No matter of what medium I choose to express an idea, the true medium seems to be ‘time’. I am incapable of making work quickly. The methodical building up of a tapestry image, the repetitive acts of hand stitching, the slow emergence of imagery from the layers of fine graphite lines on paper are integral components of ‘who’ I am.

I’m also part of the global tapestry community. A member of the American Tapestry Alliance, I was Co Director for three years and remain on the Board of Directors. This organization, with over 500 international members, gives community to artists often working in isolation. In addition to ATA, I also belong to the British Tapestry Group and interact with tapestry weavers in Australia, the United States and New Zealand.

Beyond the ‘art’ and ‘craft’ worlds, I’m a feminist filled with curiosity and passion, forever researching, learning, questioning, seeking to understand, and using both art and the written word to communicate. I welcome the opportunity to take the role of advocate, to mediate the spaces between the worlds of science and academia and the experiences of individual women. I exhibit and give talks at scientific and philosophic symposia as well as in galleries and textile conferences.

I’m interested and engaged: in my work, in the worlds of art, craft and culture, in working with those promoting a greater understanding and appreciation of ‘contemporary tapestry’, in theoretical writing, in finding threads of concept and trying to follow where they lead. I love to travel, to read, to visit friends whenever I’m not actively working in the studio.

Q Where in the world are you?

Canada. In particular, I live on an acreage, in a rural area on the East side of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


"...frayed..."  16" x 22" x 2.5"  2010.  (photo Tony Bounsall)


Q When did you decide to become a maker?

I’ve been a maker since early childhood. Because I grew up in a family where art and textiles were constant components of daily life, there was never a conscious ‘becoming’. That said, both art and craft were avocations as I pursued careers in health care and business. In my forties – I changed all that and became a full time art student and then artist.

Q What made you choose the materials you work with?

Interesting question! I’ve not really thought this through before this.

There’s a two-fold attraction to luscious yarn: both the visual appeal of colour, texture, light reflectivity and the tactile reward. The ‘feel’ of a yarn is important, the way it ‘looks’ is important. There are conservational factors for some of my work. For the buried/decomposed work, my interest is in the concept and in the reactions of textile and earth.

When I sit in my studio, pull my chair back from the loom – my eye travels across the baskets of yarn on the floor, lingers on the sheen of linen and silk, the richness of the colours. And, I experience a great, simple joy.

For my non-tapestry work: some of the decisions are conceptual (found, domestic linens), some are technical (H pencil and smooth, hot-pressed paper). The rest of the selections are aesthetic and concept driven.

But …. Textiles. Always textiles. They form such cultural touchstones and societal expressions. They project layers of meaning, by a focus on aspects: historical, contemporary, process and material. They are a visual and tactile language. Textiles are deeply imbedded in my sense of self.


"Evolve"  11" x 15" 2009


Q. What other materials would you like to work in?

Metal! I’m always flirting along the edges of the world of metal and have woven with stainless steel. I’d love to find ways of integrating metal and textiles.

Q Where do you get your inspiration from?

The simplistic answer would be ‘everywhere’. I’m intensely visual and see the world in terms of line, form, colour, pattern, and texture. I read: art/craft theory, scientific theory, cultural and feminist discourse, novels. …and they all mix together. I have great online artist friends, with whom I discuss ideas, concepts and thoughts. I listen to women’s voices and remember women with whom I interacted during my years in the health world.

To narrow it down from ‘everything and everywhere’, I would say nature: it’s patterns, cycles and processes, aspects of society/culture/history and the lives of contemporary and historic women. From those components, ideas form into concepts I want to share and building on those ideas, I develop symbolic imagery to express a layered narrative voice.


'Homage to Aubrey" Photo Taken at a Scientific Conference in Alberta, with Aubrey de Grey.


Q What motivates you?

I’m truly driven to create. Even if I knew the finished objects would never be seen, I’d still make work.

But, I do enjoy sharing what I’ve created. Exhibitions, and knowing a deadline is coming up, do increase my progress to completed pieces by imposing focus.

‘Ideas’ are really my biggest motivators. I read, think, discuss, sketch and eventually a concept will gel in my mind, telling me it needs to be expressed. My processes of hand weaving tapestry, hand stitching and drawing are very slow, allowing me ample time to develop new ideas.


Dis/Connect – Drawings and Cartoon for the Tapestry Currently in Progress



"Dis/Connect" Detail. Work in Progress.  This tapestry will measure 30" x 48" and is the first large tapestry Linda has woven in a couple of years


Q. Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

Both. I have a studio space in my home. It’s a separate, dedicated space but is attached to the house I live in.

I’ve always found a place to work – even when I lived on boats (we’ve lived on several). The workspace has an effect on the medium and the size of the pieces I make – but I always create.

When I travel, I take something small to weave or stitch and my small sketchpad goes with me everywhere.


Linda in Her Studio


Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

Can you hear my giant sigh? I alternate between engagement with the patriarchal binary systems of ‘high’ and ‘low’, with the perceived marginalization of ‘craft’ and, within craft, ‘textiles’ and within textiles, ‘hand woven tapestry’ and … ignoring the entire convoluted issue.

When I’m busy in my studio, everything else fades away. When I’m interacting with other tapestry weavers, with other craft artists, when I’m sending out exhibition proposals or attending symposia/conferences, the importance of the issues reasserts itself.

There is reality to the existence of barriers impeding recognition in the fine art world: as an older woman, working in textiles, making work that is slow and hand woven/hand stitched, I sometimes doubt I have the energy to also battle for a place where ‘art’ and ‘craft’ are considered equal. I can rail against pejorative perceptions of the ‘decorative’, the ‘domestic’, the ‘feminine’ or I can use my time and energy to make the best work I can, present it to the world professionally and just keep on going.


"Re/Genesis" 4" x 20". 2008. Private collection.


Q How do you sell and promote your work?

Up to this point I am not represented by a gallery, nor do I have my own website. The former may never happen, the second, I’m working on.

I apply to have my work purchased into public collections and respond to anyone who expresses an interest in my work. Because I exhibit regionally, nationally and internationally, a wide range of collectors see my work. The quality of the exhibition is important to me and I’ve been honoured to have work accepted into the last four American Tapestry Biennial Exhibitions. The catalogues, accompanying these prestigious shows are used to highlight my work within the context of the international tapestry world. My work has been written about in several magazine articles and that increases the recognition as well.

For those interested, and I apologize for the lack of a much needed website, I offer the following links:

My email address is: and I’d love to hear from anyone, if they have questions or want to know more about my work.


Opening Reception: Dialogue: Tapestry and Human/Nature, South Broadway Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM

Work Shown:  "...hanging by a thread...."  and "...threadbare...."  These pieces are currently on exhibit in the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 8, at the American Textile History Museum, Lowell, Massachusetts.


Q What does your typical working day look like?

If I’m not traveling, I work pretty much every day. I’m an early riser and the first thing on my schedule is checking emails over morning coffee. As part of a working board, running the American Tapestry Alliance, there are a lot of email discussions and tasks to be done. Once the slate’s clean I go to the studio and begin working. I have pieces at the concept/design stage, several pieces in progress and others waiting to be finished or mounted, and usually have a drawing under way. I spend most mornings in the studio and often return in the afternoon.

My personality doesn’t suit ‘organized and methodical’ so I rarely work on one piece for more than an hour. I’ll reach a point where I feel the need to step back and will move on to another piece, another way of working. Weaving, stitching, drawing. At some point I try to make a daily sketch entry in my journal – those small, impromptu drawings form the base for many more elaborate works.

Periodically, I am back at the computer having conversations, doing research, having ATA discussions. Most days include some time settled into my studio wingchair with a book.

I rarely work in my studio in the evenings but will often take some stitching with me and make productive use of time in front of the television.

Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)

Oh, I just can’t answer this. If the designation is ‘favourite’ then it’s impossible.

There are artists who have had a pivotal influence on me: Jane Kidd, Aino Kajaniemi, Sue Lawty, Kay Lawrence, Dorothy Caldwell, to name a few.

I love going to contemporary galleries and there is just so much work, by so many artists, all mingled in my memory. There’s no way I can winnow out particular favourites – they all feed my soul. The world is rich with great artists and I am in awe when I encounter those who soar above the rest of us. Quite often the names fade but the work stays with me.


One of the bird series, on the loom.


Q What music do you listen to?

I have eclectic tastes and the selection process depends on my mood and the kind of work I’m doing. It can range from Gregorian chant to the Janis Joplin to Leonard Cohen. Some genres I dislike and never listen to: opera, country/western, heavy metal.

There are times when I crave a sense of calm and peace and others when I want to be bouncing in my chair, head bopping to the beat, smile on my face. I have music to suit both needs.

Often, I prefer no music at all.

Q 3 likes and dislikes?

Likes: sunshine, solitude, silence (okay, and chocolate)

Dislikes: getting rejected from a juried show, constantly figuring out how to use new technological gizmos, day timers

Q What do you do to relax?

Curl up with a good novel, take my dog (chocolate toy poodle) for a romp, daydream over a good cup of coffee.


"Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" 2008. Private Collection.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Behind the Scenes with Emma Walker of craftscotland

Emma Walker at Work
Q So who is Emma Walker?
I am Chief Executive of craftscotland, the national organisation for craft in Scotland, and I am also a Board member of the Arts Marketing Association (AMA). I’ve worked in audience development – which essentially means providing lots of opportunities for people of all backgrounds to experience the arts in lots of different ways – since I was 18 and I am immensely passionate about equality in the arts.

I’m from Seaham, County Durham and whilst I had the best childhood I could ever wish for, the arts was not on my radar until I left home to go to university in Leeds. My careers advisor at school told me, after typing a few random things into a computer that, amongst other things one of the careers that was a perfect match for me was a refuse collector. I can’t imagine any of my fellow schoolmates being told they could make CEO of a national arts-based organisation, and one day I’d like to address this.
Its Not a Desk Job! Unloading Shelves at Timespan for Meet Your Maker Event

Q Can you tell us a bit more about craftscotland?
craftscotland is the world’s first audience development agency for craft. The ‘world’s first’ bit might sound a bit like marketing spin, but I think it is hugely important to recognise what a gigantic step forward this is for the promotion of craft in Scotland and wider afield. Scottish Arts Council’s vision to create a new, accessible platform for Scottish craft through the power of audience development should be applauded.
We work with designers/makers, curators, galleries and craft retailers to position Scotland at the forefront of a global craft revolution. We want to build a brighter and richer future for craft by creating new craft fans, inspiring new makers and developing opportunities to show and sell craft.

A Year in the Life of craftscotland - 2009/2010
There is lots of work to be done on re-positioning craft and reclaiming the word for what it really means. When I joined craftscotland two and a half years ago, craft was positioned by the craft sector as an elite, inaccessible art form. Craft exhibitions were marketed to other people within the craft sector, but not to the wider world.
Then there’s the press…. craft was positioned by the press as this twee thing that Granny’s do in front of the television. There’s been a definite shift in how craft is presented as a result of organisations like craftscotland and smaller maker collectives popping up over the past couple of years. Crucially, there’s a much greater sense of everyone working together too which is great for business and also lots of fun.
Reading American Craft Magazine – all part of researching Crafts in a Global World
Our work revolves around the three principles of audience development – research, marketing and engaging with the public – and we use these principles to support and grow the craft sector by working with new and existing craft enthusiasts. We operate on a local, regional, national and international level.

Networking Like a Trooper  for Scottish Craft – Pitching to Lewis Wexler at his Gallery

Through our audience development work we run exhibitions and events for both the public and the sector, often working with partner organisations such as National Museums Scotland, Timespan, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the Collins Gallery. Our marketing campaign The C Word was the first national cinema advertising campaign for craft, and the advert has gained worldwide exposure and interest.
Ultimately we want people to buy, see, commission, enjoy or visit craft inspired by and made in Scotland. We have 1500 makers on our directory and more than 250 craft venues such as shops and galleries so there’s plenty of choice.
Opening at craftscotland’s AGM, 2010, Edinburgh City Chambers
Q With the current economic environment in Scotland and wider afield, what future challenges is Crafts Scotland facing?
The challenge is being able to adapt to change and to adapt to it quickly. A couple of weeks ago I went to the All About Audiences conference in Manchester which focused on how the arts should adapt resiliently. The quote from the conference that keeps wrestling its way to the front of my brain is from Charles Darwin (he wasn’t at the conference obviously, but he was cited a few times!). Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

The challenge for craftscotland is adapting successfully to the inevitable changes that are happening as a result of the terrible economic climate we find ourselves in, questioning the needless changes that are being made by governments and funders and never losing sight of why we are here in the first place.

The craft sector and the public are not here to justify craftscotland’s existence – the day we stop making an impact is the day we shut up shop, so I am constantly scrutinising the changes we are making to ensure that they are wise business decisions, that they are helpful to the people we are here to support, and that they have an element of creativity about them too.
Makers, Jilli Blackwood and Leah Black Hard at Work at Meet Your Maker Event, NMS
I’m confident for our future as we have a great team, we are working with one of the most creative craft sectors in the world and we have an excited audience who wants to discover more of what Scottish craft has to offer.
I am passionate – honestly very passionate – about spending the taxpayer’s money creatively but responsibly, and I know we do this. We are operating on low costs but the return on investment is significant and increases each year. Creative Scotland is hugely supportive of what we do and we are introducing a number of income streams for craftscotland later this year which will bring in money for us to reinvest in the sector and the charity itself.


The createscotland Team at COLLECT 2010
Q Social Networking, new and electronic media are key elements of craftscotland’s public profile, offering audiences a more intimate and friendly interaction with the organisation, how will you take this further?
Well, the new website is much more than a facelift. It’s going to provide new ways for audiences to interact with us and crucially with each other. The craft sector is a tight knit community and we want to offer people the opportunity to respond instantly to things on the new website, and to engage in lots of conversations as a result of an image or a feature that is posted.

We’re watching the monthly web stats with interest at the moment as the number of people who are accessing our website using a handheld device is on the increase month by month. This is great news as we are currently in the process of developing an i-phone application and craft trails for download onto mobiles.

craftscotland at Collect 2010

Last year we developed an e-invitation for our stand at Collect 2010 which included a teaser film of the makers creating the work we would be showing on the stand. We sent it to our international database of contacts who then passed it onto their own friends and contacts. As a result of people forwarding it we received an invite to do a show in Philadelphia. The guys from Philadelphia weren’t able to come to Collect, but by using digital media we were able to engage them in what we do and reap the rewards for other makers.

Picking the Brains of American Makers at the Philadelphia Show Recce

Q What is next for craftscotland?
2011 is a huge year for craftscotland. Later this month we open UNITE, an exhibition in partnership with the host venue, The Collins Gallery. The exhibition showcases the most makers we have ever had in one exhibition – 38 in total – and examines our role of uniting, championing and inspiring the craft sector.
In May we will be presenting 12 makers to the international collectors market at COLLECT, which is an annual Crafts Council event held at the Saatchi Gallery. This is the fourth year we have been involved but this year we are in the main area of the gallery for the first time with a larger stand. We are also taking six makers on craftscotland bursaries, which is a new thing for us. We don’t have funding to do this but it’s such a great opportunity to share our experience and skills with emerging makers. The bursary makers receive training, networking opportunities, tickets to the show and accommodation in London.

Collect 2011 - A Sneak Peak!

August is a big month for us. craftscotland is changing, or perhaps expanding is a more appropriate word…. and from August there’ll be even more ways to get involved and communicate directly with us and the craft community. We are rebranding, redeveloping our website and creating a membership scheme in consultation with makers. All of these things will be launched in August so it’s going to be a busy summer.
One of the most exciting things happening this year is our American launch which is happening in November, and almost three years sooner than I had anticipated. After being invited to participate in the 35th Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, we have just this week confirmed the 25 makers who we will be taking to the show as part of the Guest Country programme. It’s a hugely prestigious show and participation is by invite only so we are honoured the Committee in Philadelphia have invited us to take part – particularly as it is the 10th anniversary of the Guest Country programme.
Meeting With Donna Davies from SOFA in Philadelphia
We are also launching an American website showcasing Scots in America, and Americans in Scotland whilst we are there and we are currently in talks with American partners to do work in Washington D.C, Chicago and New York.

Christmas feels like a long way off!


Meeting with Etsy in Brooklyn
Q What made you choose arts management as a career?
I didn’t. I wanted to be lots of things while I was growing up, from a teacher to a paranormal abnormal psychologist for NASA but I wasn’t even aware that careers in the arts existed! When my first term at university was coming to an end and I realised I needed to make some cash over the Christmas holidays I applied to the usual places – ASDA, Top Shop, Miss Selfridges – but soon realised it was too late and all the student jobs had gone.

Then someone recommended I should apply to be an usher at the Empire Theatre, Sunderland which I did and after watching Ant and Dec running around on stage with Snow White 87 times over the Christmas break I realised that there was something quite special going on in the auditorium that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I went back to do a placement in the marketing team the following May, where I realised that the je ne sais quoi I couldn’t put my finger on during the pantomime was the audience reaction – each audience reacted to the panto differently and I loved it.

Later that year I got a job at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, where I watched the great Jude Kelly in action. She was Artistic Director at the time and just being around her was hugely inspirational. When we won the Olivier Award for Singin’ In the Rain, she brought everyone into the auditorium with the award and told us that ‘WE won this together.’ She then went on to talk about her experiences on Question Time and I remember sitting there at 18 years old with my mind being completely blown with the different kinds of achievement this woman had had.

So I guess my career in arts management has a little bit to do with watching Ant and Dec 87 times, and a lot to do with an inspirational, powerful woman sitting on the side of a stage telling me that anything is possible.

Stepping Out in Washington DC for Meetings with The Torpedo Factory Craft Studios
Q What does your typical working day look like?
It’s a clichĂ© but there really isn’t a typical day for me, but I can tell you about today which is one of those lovely days I get to spend in the office. I’m having less of those at the moment so whenever I get the chance to stop and not dash about I relish in it.
This morning I had the first viewing of the Collect 2011 film which promotes the twelve Scottish based makers we are taking to the event at the Saatchi Gallery next month. I then had a meeting with the team and our designers who are working on our new branding.
This afternoon I’ve been working on the stakeholder plan for craftscotland and liaising with a potential funder for a project we are doing in America. Then there are emails and phone calls to deal with. The phone calls I make and receive are the most varied I’ve ever had in any job – I’ve spoken to Newsnight, the Food and Drugs Authority in the USA, a couple of makers and an interdisciplinary scientist already today.
Q Where do you get your inspiration from?
Ooh lots of things. I have a Helen Keller quote which I have carried around with me in my diary since I was 12 which goes: “One cannot consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.” Just saying it out loud now makes me feel excited and like anything could happen today. I look at it at least once a day. A family motto is “Shy bairns get nae sweets.” Anyone who knows me will know I am not afraid to ask. One of my Board, Caroline Notman, once said to me “She who asks timidly invites refusal” which struck a chord with me so Caroline’s quote is now sitting next to Helen Keller in my diary.

People inspire me. My team are experts in their own fields and also hugely passionate about their roles. I’m constantly learning from them.
And there are places too. I think about New York at least once a day, probably more, because New York is the place for me where anything is possible. Manchester is the same for me. Edinburgh inspires me – we moved to Edinburgh because we wanted to live here. The jobs came later, and I think that’s the best reason to move anywhere. Scotland on the whole is hugely inspiring though. In fact our Collect stand this year is inspired by a trip to Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute which I took with Joe Pascoe, the CEO of Craft Victoria (Australia).
I also play music to inspire me and I do that thing where I find a new tune and then I play it constantly until my boyfriend is driven round the bend by it. At the moment it’s The Black Oil Brothers from Chicago and a great Scottish based band who are going to be playing at our wedding, The Moonzie Allstars – I’ve been late for work on a couple of occasions after dancing to both of these bands on a morning and forgetting the time, but I find a good dance first thing sets me up for the day more than breakfast news ever could.
And then there is the Wizard of Oz which pretty much encapsulates all of the above. There are people, there’s music, there’s some great quotes… in fact now I think about it, I’m wondering if Dorothy Gales’ family motto was also “Shy bairns get nae sweets.” She told the Wizard what she wanted, didn’t she? Not being afraid to live your life in Technicolor is hugely inspirational.

On the Beach in Shetland after the Rural Craft Forum
Q What motivates you?
Remembering how I felt when I first discovered the arts, and more recently when I discovered craft. The idea of creating the opportunity for others to feel this way when discovering Scottish craft or a particular maker or a particular exhibition is what motivates me to do the job I do.
The Scottish craft sector and the international craft sector at large have an unbelievable pot of yet-to-be-explored potential which is great motivation. Breaking new ground, doing things differently, bringing new people to Scottish craft are all things to get very excited about.
I think about where craftscotland and the makers we represent could be in ten years’ time as much as I think about where we are now, and the seeds we are sowing throughout 2011 are the start of that process. Flicking between the two time zones – the present and the future – in my mind is the kick up the bum I need to make sure we are all on track to succeed with the ambitions of the future as much as the ambitions of today.
Then there are the things that motivate my ego too! Being the first CEO of craftscotland – in fact the first member of staff – is something that brings me a great amount of pride. I was 27 when I took the job on and could never have hoped for the first two years to be as successful as they have. I’m certainly not wishing my life away but I do sometimes imagine a day say, in 2060 when I am turning 80 and craftscotland is in its sixties and I can think ‘I played a huge part in that.’
The responsibility of planting the roots of this organisation so that craftscotland is around when I am not, is the ultimate motivation and a source of great pride.

  The First craftscotland TV Campaign Promoting Crafts in Scotland
Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?
I still have a lot to learn about craft’s history, but from what I do know I think the 21st century is a really exciting time for craft. In the past it seems to me that craft was understood by most to be one thing and one thing only. For some it was collectible, for others hobbyist. For some it was about conceptual, gallery based craft, and for others it was producing small batches for retail. For some it was about the skills passed down from history, whilst for others it was about digital technologies. For me craft in the 21st century is all of these things, and everything in the middle, and everything we haven’t even thought of yet.
There’s definitely more opportunity for craftspeople now and therefore more opportunities for the public to engage with it. Heritage craft is too often referred to as if it was thing of the past, and I would love for more organisations to include the more established disciplines. The Heritage Craft Association are brilliant at what they do – for me, if it is being made today it’s contemporary.
Opening the Meet Your Maker at National Museums Scotland
Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...
Anything is possible.

Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?
For me it’s not about having a favourite artist (or musician, actor, writer and so on)….my enjoyment of the arts comes from the overall experience of the work. I know this sounds like the politicians answer, but I honestly don’t have a favourite maker, or even a favourite type of maker.
However my most treasured piece is my engagement ring, by Marianne Anderson who is based in Glasgow. It’s a gold patterned band with a Mabe pearl and it was commissioned during Collect 2009.
My boyfriend, Mick, gave it to me when we were staying at the Timespan flat in Helmsdale when craftscotland were preparing to open Meet Your Maker exhibition last year. Every time I look at it I’m reminded of a beautiful place and a beautiful time in my life, and the person who I love more than anything in the world.
It makes it more special that I know who designed it, how it was made, where it was made and so on. I didn’t know a thing about craft before I came to craftscotland and certainly wouldn’t have thought about having a craftsperson make the most precious possession I own. There is something very wrong about that, but it is a perfect example of the situation craftscotland is working to resolve by informing and exciting the public about Scottish craft.
We are taking it one step further for our wedding rings. Hannah Louise Lamb and Donna Barry are two jewellers based in Edinburgh. They have just launched a new workshop where engaged couples can spend the day in Hannah and Donna’s workshop and create their own wedding rings under the supervision of the experts. It’s going to be so special to have a wedding ring made by Mick but to an expert finish, and his will be made by me – poor lad!

Q What music do you listen to?
I’m a big reggae fan, but I also love northern soul and folk and I’m a bit of a closet cheesy pop fan too.
The best place to listen to music is Letham Nights, a music event held every six to eight weeks or so at Letham Hall in Fife. It is where I first heard The Moonzie Allstars and The Black Oil Brothers, and it’s where I go to let my hair down.

Q 3 likes and dislikes?
Likes: tortoises, whisky, David Dimbleby

Dislikes: Eric Pickles MP (for irresponsibly and ignorantly referring to audience development as a ‘non-job’), flying (I’m terrified), people who are nasty or unhelpful for the sake of being so.

Q What do you do to relax?
At the moment we’re organising our wedding for this September which is surprisingly relaxing for me at the moment but we’ll see how that changes as we get closer to it! Spending time at my parents with my Grandma and my fiancĂ© is the ultimate haven from work for me and they aren’t shy about telling me to turn the laptop off either. I’m a massive Liverpool fan too although watching Liverpool play can barely be described as relaxing.