Looking back at 2023 as we plan for the year ahead!
As we approach the end of January and make plans for the year ahead we wanted to take some time to look back and reflect on the previous year. To learn from and have gratitude for all of our experiences as we look to the future. A lot of 2023 for us at Blick was spent rebuilding our systems and processes and new website following the pandemic, but we also had some amazing opportunities to try new things, learn, research and reflect including:
2023 was a year with lots of wonderful travel opportunities. Starting right back in January with a Belfast Design Week trip to Hanoi Vietnam. October then brought a European Creative Hubs trip to European Creative Skills Week in Vienna then in November we got to go to Brussels to the Creative Flip Conference which was all about building a stronger and more resilient Cultural and Creative Sector and Industries, by further strengthening their overall ecosystem. The opportunity to travel and learn about best practice methods of learning and building skills within the creative sector gave us lots to think about and integrate into our program for this year and beyond.
Our Time is Now was a video podcast series telling the stories of 5 Belfast creatives produced in collaboration with Esther Mogada from Creating A Space was our first big project of 2023. We always love working with Esther and got so much joy and inspiration from this project and hearing the stories of the different and diverse creatives involved. All the content, video and audio can still be found on our website, Spotify and YouTube.
- Macy Stewart Fashion & Portrait Photographer
- Linzi Rooney Founder of Born & Bred
- Mel Carroll Designer and Founder of Usfolk Illustration Agency
- Tanice Samuels Content Creator
- Tony McGaharan Learning Designer and Founder of People Playbook
Even though we didn’t get the final funding to make this project a reality, we loved working with Venturefolk and Belfast Design Week on this collaborative project about design and growing food in urban communities. We love plants at Blick, but didn’t know much about growing food. This project really opened our eyes and is hopefully a project we can revisit and build on in the future.
In August we held our first program of in-person events and workshops since before the pandemic, nothing beats face to face conversations for building networks and community. Taking a break from events during the pandemic gave us the chance to reflect on the type of events we wanted to have in the future and we decided where possible we wanted to keep them smaller and more intimate. To give people the opportunity to really learn and interact and connect with others. Our Summer events and workshops program gave us the opportunity to try this out and it really was a joy to have so many different creatives all keen to learn and evolve back in our studios at the same time.
We loved getting to know and work with our graduate resident Hannah Griffin and are delighted she has stayed on at Blick as a studio member and helping us with a bit of work. We hope to launch a new updated residency program later this year.
Last year we decided to try and have more fun and be more creative in our work when possible, so we put together some small exhibitions in our Malone studios including a residents exhibition, Our Time is Now exhibition and an exhibition featuring some of our residents Kerrie Whelan & Pure Dirt. When planning our 2024 program we hope to keep this element of fun and creativity. It can get all too easy to get bogged down with everyday tasks and take things too seriously and lose the joy and passion for what you do.
It was a big job, but last year we finally completed our updated website, giving it a bit of a refresh, but also a lot more functionality for integrating all our different projects and programs and support and resources for creatives onto one platform. Deciding what new features we wanted to add to the website and rewriting all the old website content gave us the opportunity to really think about what we are doing and why and reflect on what we want to carry forward, what we want to change and improve and how we want to grow and evolve in this new year.
Thank you to everyone who was part of our journey in 2023, we are looking forward to this new year and the opportunities it will bring. Our first event for this year is a creative talk with multi-disciplinary designer Alana McDowell on Wed 7th February at 7pm in our Hill St studios. If you would like to come along you can sign up here
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