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You didn't win this award! - The Silent Book edition.

A black and white line drawing showing a hand reaching out towards a trophy that says You didn’t win this award. Text below this says a new blog series by Loadofolbobbins. There is text in the top right in pink which says We’ve all been there so let’s talk about it! The middle of the image has pink text that says one book, no words — lots of tears! beneath which is a black and white illustration of a small figure running through charcoal rain and clouds. At the very bottom of the text is #ididntwinwiththis

Have you ever put your heart and soul into a piece for it to land flat? You spot a competition and inspiration strikes, so you put your heart and soul into a piece and send it off into the ether, equal parts excited and a nervous wreck. The results come in and..... NOTHING, NADA, BUPKIS. It's never not a gut punch, you feel all the crapness of it in every fibre of your being... Let's not even mention the odd occasion where the actual winner has you scratching your head?! Well it's happened to me, more times than I care to mention....actually scratch that, I shall mention it and not only that be proud of it this brand new and hopefully interesting blog series!


Perceived wisdom says to rip off the band aid fast, so I'm going to dive in head first and start with the one that hurt, I mean really, really hurt. Let me set the scene, it's the height of lockdown 2020 I spot a competition (Silent Book Contest) and that flightiest of substances, inspiration, decides to pay me a visit. For those unfamiliar with the comp. here's the premise, you create a book that tells a story exclusively through images for any age, on any subject, it's a really great contest with lots of scope for creative play. So that's exactly what I did...

A big collection of marks made in black using charcoal and ink. In pink handwritten text it highlight how different marks were made thery say ripped paper, ring marks, drips, charcoal dust hand smudges spills and splashes.

...I made 'mistakes' lots of them, or you know the things that usually get labeled as mistakes – smudges, drips, splashes, spills, ring marks, you name it. The reason? Because the same part of me that was impelled to create this blog series is passionate about celebrating 'The Wonderful Mistake', you know those things that any text book about 'technique' would tell you was not the 'proper way', or the things we're told we should feel embarrassed or ashamed of. Why?! What's embarrassing about a few mistakes, especially when they've led to so many wonderful things like penicillin, x-rays and apparently the slinky! I mean, yes mistakes in a major op or the like are to be avoided obviously, but when it comes to creative exploration I say "down with the proper way". So presented with all of my 'mistakes' I challenged myself to create a narrative for a book and this is some of what followed.

A mass of black charcoal scribbles dominate the page and have the title 'The Wonderful Mistake' underlined and written in white on it.
From left to right are a series of black dripping paint marks, the one on the furthest right has a series of horizontal black pencil lines running up it. Midway up you can see a small black and white illustrated figure climbing the lines like a ladder.
A black and white illustration of a small figure running through charcoal rain and clouds.
A black and white illustration showing smudged charcoal finger marks that have become an atmospheric dark forest with brush mark leaves. In the middle of this forest is a lone small figure.

Part of the book included a dedication which went: 'For every wonderful mistake ever made and the teachers, like my dad Patrick, who encourage them.' I'm very lucky to have a very creative and supportive family who each encourage each other in all our creative mistakes. So, with competition fee paid, (another can of worms I'll touch on in the future I'm sure), I sent my book out into the big wide world to be judged.

On the left of the image a small black and white door has been opened and a tiny figure has walked partly through into a breathtaking vibrant and colourful space scape. The formerly black and white figure now has a touch of colour appear with their now blue trousers.

Needless to say it didn't win, or get shortlisted, or this would indeed be a very different blog series! The inevitable visceral blow to my self-confidence and enthusiasm was dealt as quickly and as sharply as ever and the tears were not shy in making themselves known. Although it didn't feel great at the time sobbing was a good sign, it meant the work mattered, that it came from the deepest part of myself and I should be, and am, incredibly proud of it! This is what I want to celebrate, even though it didn't win I created something I love. It's so important to remember that judging anything, especially in the creative sphere is completely and utterly subjective, there is no one person who has the definitive answer on these things and there never should be.

If you take away anything from this let it be that when sacrificially offering ourselves up to the competition gods on a regular basis, even if our work doesn't win, it still matters!

Now you've heard one of my non-winning success stories, don't worry there'll be more, I'd love to hear yours and feature them here. I'm open to all sorts of pieces they don't just have to be visual art, they can be literature, name it, I even had a mention of conference abstracts and journal articles on Instagram. I'd love to hear from you. What didn't you win? You can drop me an e-mail or pop over to social media @loadofolbobbins and say hi with the #ididntwinwiththis

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