1st April 2021

In our 2021 Cockpit Effect Report, we’ve featured six makers in case study stories, each illustrating different practices and experiences during 2020. We’ll share them all over the coming weeks.

Cockpit Effect Report 2021 – maker’s story: Richard McVetis, artist-maker

What major things happened to you during the year?
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 quick 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 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 we 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, share my work in this new virtual world. The exhibition’s design 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. www.artistsupportpledge.com

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

What would you say was the benefit of being at Cockpit?
I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to be part of Cockpit Arts during these turbulent times; the support and dedication has been truly inspiring. What we all needed at this time was a calm, pragmatic and quick response, which the team of Cockpit Arts delivered, and in my opinion, they went above and beyond what was expected of them. It was of enormous benefit to have their expertise and knowledge to guide us through this turbulent time.

For many artists, designers, and makers, our biggest outgoings is the studio rent. To have this reduced for a
significant amount of time while we took stock and planned for the year ahead was reassuring and invaluable.

I would also like to add that I was thankful that the studio was able to remain open. Having the opportunity to come to the studio certainly helped sustain my business, but it also went some way to relieving the anxiety of being stuck at home. I don’t have the luxury of a garden or a large house, so it was important for my wellbeing to have a safe space to escape.