• Everyday Magic

    Dear friends,

    I hope this email finds you well?

    Here in Brighton we’ve been having such howling winds, such sheeting rain, such small glorious bursts of bluesky sunshine. I must confess I really love our inclement weather. I even love the word. Inclement. Makes me think of 1960s London with its red doubledeckers, men in bowler hats and black umbrellas. Those black and white films where people addressed each other formally and talked of the weather as if it were a secret code. And inclement weather makes people behave in curious ways. Jostling with their rainwear, walking sideways into gusty breezes, hunching their shoulders against the cold. Wonderful drawing opportunities. It’s exciting. So many ideas in the soggy sketchbooks. But I know many people prefer the summer. The swimming and the sunny beaches. Me, I don’t like swimming much and really like the inclemency... I think it’s because I appreciate keeping the water on the outside and keeping myself cosy on the inside. The effort to stay warm makes me feel safe and happy.

    It’s not all fun though. My neighbours opposite are having major works done:  7 months of rattling scaffold with the wind fair whooping through the creaking poles, and plastic sheeting snapping like a wind flag all night. I’m trying to focus on the positive. Like how wonderful it’ll be when it’s all done… like taking your feet out of tight boots at the end of a long day, or sliding that splinter from under your fingernail in a hot bubble bath. The discomfort is almost worth the relief.

    Most of my New Year’s resolutions have bitten the dust already. How are yours doing?

    AND I’ve developed a frozen shoulder. Humph. 

    But thank goodness I have my ‘do less’ and daily writing practices still going. An extra hour in bed with a hot water bottle and a cup of cacao with nutmeg and frothy oat milk in the mornings while I scribble in my little book. 

    AND I’ve realized a long-held dream!

    ...But then I think - was it a Wonderful Dream or more of an Incurable Problem… ? Either way, it’s something that’s been dogging me for at least 20 years. I’ve tried and failed so many times on this one. I’ve reached out for help and still not managed it. I began to think it was a hopeless case. It had got to the stage where I thought, “You’re just going to have to accept this one, Toftie. Nothing can be done…. It’s an unachievable goal like eternal youth, effortless joy or a flat stomach.” 

    And it’s been getting worse each year. I’ve made it mean that I’m not really good enough… as if I have a dirty secret and someone is going to find me out one day. And although my problem is glaringly obvious, others appear not to see it. Or perhaps they see it and it doesn’t bother them. They can ignore it with apparent ease. It just passes them by. So it feels as though I’ve gone a tiny bit mad, worrying about something I cannot do and nobody else has even noticed. An insurmountable problem. An unattainable dream. Do you have anything like that in your life or is it just me?

    It took a visit from my sister and 10 days hard labour, but WE CLEARED OUT MY STUDIO! I could not be more grateful for this life changing experience (THANKS SIS’) but the emotional and physical tremors are only just starting to subside almost a week later. We stretched ourselves to the limit and in the middle of it all we even admitted that it could not be done.

    Over 30 years of sketchbooks, ideas, paintings, unfinished projects, writings, saved things, rubbish and good stuff has been removed from my studio. I let go of lots of beautiful things… They have found new homes to be appreciated in. And in exchange I have a clear, current, creative space to work from. The impossible dream. Every chest and suitcase and drawer has been emptied. Papers have been shredded, recycling has been collected, rubbish has been tipped, Facebook Marketplace has been flooded and scrap stores overloaded. And we are still standing. It doesn’t seem real. There’s still a lot in here, but I can see the walls! We got rid of five sets of shelves and all their contents. Marvellous! Are you curious to see the work I was doing 30 years ago? Would you join me at an Archive Sale in my studio this April? It is a final total clearout. An ‘everything left must go at knockdown prices’ kind of a deal. Keep reading.

    In April I will be opening my private studio - for one weekend only - and having my first Archive Sale! Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April 11-5pm. Showcasing old work and new, with plenty of bargains. New jig dolls, new ceramic Dorises, new framed paintings, sold out prints, old drawings & etchings, loads of cards and original work from the past 30 years. I have a storeroom FULL of undiscovered treasures at truly clear out prices, so save up your pocket money (there are no credit card facilities) and I hope you’ll join us for a weekend in windy Brighton-by-the-Sea at Brown Dog Studio, 12 Chapel Mews, Hove, BN3 1AR. You could make a weekend of it and stay overnight? There’ll be new bargainous stock each day as our creaking tables won’t hold it all. And accommodation options from hostels and Premier Inn to mini boutique hotels and the Grand! Toftie Towers is full, as my sister (of www.mustardhampers.co.uk) and her daughter Serafina are coming to help. And Amber from @littlemustardclub and Graham my long-suffering other half. I’m sorry so many of you won’t be able to make it. There are too many things (and too cheap!) to list online. But there will be a small selling exhibition from www.samtoftoriginals.co.uk at the same time, details below.

    Big love from rainy windy BYOOTIFUL Brighton!!!

    Sam Toft