As I sat and watched the world outside my workshop window bursting into life, a Robin was singing its heart out. I love walking up the hill at the back of our house and onto the moorland to hear the Skylarks and the Curlews. It's a lovely part of the country here in Hebden Bridge and I feel very lucky to experience all this wonder around me. It's such a beautiful world!
I think about that quite a lot.
I've been fundraising for several environmental/conservation charities for a while now, but for some time I've felt a pressing need to do more. We switched to Ecotricity a while ago so that the house and workshop are both now supplied with power from 100% renewable sources. To further reduce my carbon footprint I've signed up to the Forest Credit scheme run by Rainforest Concern, offsetting the carbon emissions that occur due to my business activity making it carbon neutral. This means that all carbon emissions caused by the power used in all casting processes, all shipping activity and all mileage covered in the van have been offset.
While maintaining the absolute highest standard of quality, all my bronze sculpture is now cast from metals obtained from over 95% recycled sources too.
Small steps on a world scale - we're only one very small business - but it's a step in the right direction.
Nancy and I think that it is extremely important to make lifestyle choices that are ethical and environmentally sustainable. That's why we have teamed up with Ecotricity to encourage more people to switch to clean energy.
Ecotricity started supplying electricity from 100% renewable sources in 1996 - the world's first Green Electricity company! Since 2010 they've been making and supplying gas from 100% renewable sources too. They're a not-for-dividend company - the profits go back into changing the way energy is made and used in Britain. Find out more about them and how you can switch to a greener future using this link: www.ecotricity.co.uk/Geckoman
If you would like to talk to someone ring 08000 302 302 stating either the code GECKO1 or just say you heard about them through Geckoman. Once the switch is complete I'll send you an £80 Geckoman voucher. It will help me out tremendously if you contact me once you've initiated the process with an idea of what you'd like to spend it on so I can start work on that and have it ready as soon as your switch over is completed.
It's hard to imagine the impact of being flooded if you've not been through it. As you may know my workshop was caught by the major flooding that hit many parts of Britain on Boxing Day 2015.
It took until the end of September 2016 to get the flood resilience building work on the workshop started. That phase was finished in October just before our run of Christmas events. All a bit skin of our teeth! Fifteen months on from the flood I finally have the floor down, the walls skimmed and decorated throughout. New benches and racking are back in place and it's already a lot messier than in the photo! There are a series of before and after photos in an album here.
I'll be taking part in the Hebden Bridge Open Studios event again this year, so if you can come and visit Hebden Bridge July 7- 9 feel free to drop by to see the new workshop up and running. With 89 other artists taking part it's a very creative and wonderful little town to explore that weekend - it also has some rather nice cafes and pubs! It's rather lovely all year round actually, but to visit me any other time is by appointment only.
For the full list of where to find me this year please see my Events page.
Every year we have a stall at the Christmas market on Parliament Street in York. We're always amazed by the urban roost of pied wagtails there; hundreds of them gather together in three or four trees at the same time every evening. With the Christmas lights shining up through the branches it's an incredible sight. Last year we were directly underneath the roost which inspired me to sculpt a pair of wagtails in bronze.
Conservation work by the RSPB in the UK and around the world is tremendously important. Their work is about a lot more than just bird life. Huge areas of vulnerable habitats are under threat having a devastating effect on much native flora and fauna. This is why I donated a pair of my bronze pied wagtail sculptures as a raffle prize to raise funds for the work they do. We are surrounded by amazing natural beauty, we need to really appreciate it and do more to look after it.
Chris Price from Make It York drew the winning ticket at the end of York's St Nicholas Christmas Fair. Congratulations Val McAtear! We raised £1,374.45 for the RSPB towards helping them to continue their fantastic work.