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Published: 19 December 2020

By Andy Ross

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The last blog of 2020

The view from Tate Modern across the Thames The view from Tate Modern across the ThamesAs 2020 nears its end, it is time for the final blog of the year. After this I shall be, as usual, taking a break for the festive season. 

Dear readers-of-the-blog,

I hope you are all safe and well in this most tumultuous of years. 

Each year at Christmas time I take a break from the blog. It helps to refocus and reinvigorate, ready for a New Year; a sort-of Spring Clean in the depths of winter. Over the festive season I will have a think about the blog and it wil return in 2021 with renewed vigour. 

The South Bank Centre The South Bank CentreIt has been a strange time for everyone and we are no exception. It hasn't all been awful though, so here is an update and what we are planning for the future. 

Before that though, I would like to thank you all for continuing to receive the blog, read it and correspond. It has been a reassuring schedule to keep to when all around things have been somewhat chaotic. I am proud to say that not one week has passed in amongst all of the upheaval; a routine that has kept my own interest alive and curiosity engaged. With people from across the globe writing in, life does not feel as isolated as it could have. A living network of stories, ideas and friendship has been especially valuable in 2020. Thank you. 

Christmas in Belgravia Christmas in BelgraviaOver the year things have changed hugely. In March I left Shetland in somewhat of a hurry to get down to London to my husband. Since then I have been unable to return North for many reasons, but that has not stopped work. Far from it. After a few months of indecision and worry caused by being uprooted from my home for nearly twenty years, a new era feels like it has begun. Just in time too! 2021 is the 20th anniversary of GlobalYell, the charity that was established in 2001 to teach vocal music and now works with music and textiles, educating and training in both. 

Sloane Street windows are looking fabulous! Sloane Street windows are looking fabulous!This period has been useful in giving some distance and time to look at what GlobalYell has achieved over the past two decades, and where it could go in future. From its start as a provider of one musical weekend each year, IslandSongs, that brought professional musicians up to the islands to work with the local community to create a performance, the charity has grown to include the Ann Sutton Foundation, a weaving production studio, and an education space along with libraries. Until this year GlobalYell was independent, trading through cloth production and textile tourism - the latter being the first such tours in Shetland. Music had taken a little bit of a back-seat for a couple of years while the new studios were established, but had never entirely disappeared with education in schools continuing. The pandemic  though stopped all that activity in March, putting plans on hold.

Christmas extravagance on Sloane Street Christmas extravagance on Sloane StreetIn the middle of the year we made A Big Decision: not to live in the islands any longer. It took a long time to come to terms with this change, but now, as the year ends, things are looking brighter. The possibilities of continuing to work with GlobalYell, running tours when the virus allows it, facilitating the use of the studio and its equipment, working with my company, The Shetland Tweed Company, to grow its production, and to maintain musical and textile links with the isles, are exciting. Although the pandemic has forced a change, we have lucky enough to be able to embrace that change. I am well-able to work via the magic of the internet from wherever we happen to be in the world and can continue to share in island life remotely. The future is looking positive once again!

Tate Britain celebrates Diwali Tate Britain celebrates DiwaliDuring the year the Master of Research Degree that I am doing with Glasgow School of Art continued. A few days ago it was completed, except for some judicious editing that will be done in January. Once the viva part of the degree is done in February I shall head North to begin work on sorting out the house in Gutcher, Ferncliff, where we spent nineteen years watching the sea for whales and orca, and from where I spent many happy hours walking the hills of Shetland, and the studio in Sellafirth, ready for the next stage in its life. It feels like a new begninning and not an ending. Surely that is A Good Thing.

As Christmas nears, so does the New Year. To end this blog, here is a little silliness online from London where the twinkling lights of the festive season are putting on a show as you can see in the photographs. To you, dear readers, over the holidays, wherever you are, I hope you stay safe and well. May 2021 be a much better year for everyone. 

Andy