What kind of a year has 2014 been for you?
The sort when horrible endings turn into amazing beginnings. Resigning from a job I’d loved for ten years was emotionally traumatic, but I also took my work to New York, got my first studio away from home, and ended this year having made a successful Arts Council England application to start the new year with.

What has changed for the better and what, if anything, has changed for the worse?
So many things – all the important things have changed for the better. But I’m mostly broke and my knees feel old. Change for both better and worse I suppose has been the uneasy transition from a-n’s old cosy, comfy, friendly website to the new state of the art techno scary website. We know it needed to happen, but it hurt. Some people are grieving over the death of the old one; I’m doing my best to get them back to try again. I have been characteristically bloody-minded about it, determined to make it work, determined to understand the good bits, the new bits, and also its limitations. I have noisily – but hopefully in good nature – complained about the things I want it to do. Some of this has happened, some of it can’t. But that’s OK. It’s working pretty well now. Many of the amazing things that have happened for me over the last 12 months have been due entirely to a-n’s blog community. It is therefore very important to me that the community continues, both for me and others.

What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
The way the current UK government is treating the arts in education is atrocious. Those who don’t fit within certain very narrow parameters of behaviour, skill, ways of thinking and working are feeling marginalised and undervalued – teachers as well as pupils. A great cheer went up when Michael Gove moved out, but things just seem to be getting worse.

What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
A general election.

What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
Taking my work to the U.S. I raised the money for my air fare through generous public sponsorship, and took part in a really successful group exhibition, Colonize. It was an amazing experience. What it did was give me the confidence to hand in my notice, develop the idea for my Nine Women project, and apply for the funding.

Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
A holiday would have been good. Maybe Paris… Or Amsterdam…

What would make 2015 a better year than 2014?
My diary for 2015 is looking pretty good already. I’m feeling really optimistic. I’m going to be making music, singing, sewing and organising this [Nine Women] project… Some of it will go to another exhibition in the US. I have a few teaching sessions to look forward to, in various settings, and more work with the education team at New Art Gallery Walsall. I would like to have a year that builds on the successes of 2014, and makes a foundation for me to continue the conversations and collaborations that enable me to work in the way I work best. I don’t ask for much – enough paid work to enable me to keep going is like a lottery win.


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Elena Thomas is a regular a-n blogger. Read her latest post at www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/threads