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"You, Truer, You-er"

March has been surprisingly busy for me. I’ve been prepping for the New Ashgate Gallery’s Rising Stars 2021 talks programme.

Entitled “Being the best you can be” and needing to last two hours, this was a challenge. However, it was also a great opportunity to break apart what I do in my mentoring and look at each aspect with a critical eye. Does this work? How can it work better? Is there a more effective way of expressing a point that will make it more impactful for the listener? Do I need to research more, or at least look more deeply, into a subject? While helping others to “do their best” it’s a good reminder for me to do the same!

I have therefore been squirrelled away in my study, pouring over ideas, and slowly, bit by bit, creating a cogent journey: a beginning, a middle and an end. Because a talk is a story, and the listeners must, with the speaker as their guide, be led through the maze until they are delivered safely to the conclusion. That’s the mark of a good talk, and while the process is a knotty one, I happen to love it.

Monday 29th March finally dawned. At 10am the session was launched and over 50 expectant faces appeared ... The moment before a talk starts is pregnant, full of nervous energy – it always is – but as soon as we were underway it was wonderful. My driving passion is to help others progress, to ‘be heard’, and being given the privilege to present a talk is a fulfilment of my mission as a mentor.

We set out on our adventure together, and at midday we all docked safely on the other side. Relief!

I always include quotes in my talks, and there is a specific one I’d like to share it with you today. It is a quote I adore, and one I urge makers to remember.

A lot of my talks revolve around a maker’s 'story' and how it runs through everything they do: biog (naturally); photographs; product descriptions; the look and feel of a website; posts on social media; a stand at an event; and of course, the pieces they make. Everything a maker creates is a physical manifestation of what they believe as a person, and therefore their unique story is infused in everything they do. How can it not be? The work only exists because of the person behind it. Without them it wouldn’t be here. Without sharing why their work exists a maker is sending orphans into the world to speak – and fend – for themselves.

When a maker shares their story with authenticity, inhabiting their own skin and knowing they are ‘enough’ as they are, it is a glorious thing. Dr Suess sums it up perfectly:

Today you are YOU,

That is TRUER than true.

There is NO ONE alive

Who is YOUER than you!

I couldn’t agree more.


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