I looked around the rooms that I did not see as rooms but more as a landscape for my emotions …
Anne Spollen, from The Shape Of Water
I need a space to create. Having a physical space cultivates my mental space, which helps my creative thoughts processes. Not everyone needs this but I do, and I am fortunate to have a room in my home that I can use solely for this purpose.
It wasn’t always the case and my first ever ‘space’ was a huge butlers tray that I spotted in a junk shop. It had a magnificent set of legs and a bit of spit and polish made it look as good as new. I adored it because it had plenty of room to hold my meagre collection of notebooks and pens and, when not in use, I could shove it into a corner of my tiny bedsit. My beloved tray served me for several years until it quite literally collapsed (maybe under the sheer weight of my creativity …?!).
I tried so hard to replace my tray but had clearly hit a time when their popularity was at a high and I couldn’t find a cheap one for love nor (very little) money. However, the local junk shop sort of came up trumps with a behemoth of a picnic basket which, inexplicably, I spray painted bottle green – nearly choking to death in the process.
As with the tray, my basket was put to good use – I simply loved the fact that there were lots of little compartments to fill up with yet more notebooks and pens, but even better it doubled up as a quasi-coffee table when I wasn’t in creative mode.
The first creative space that I could actually inhabit was a larder that I converted into a minuscule room – it was great but no amount of paint could ever mask the smell of decaying vegetables, and I would oft emerge smelling like a very old onion!
Apparently having such a space made me something of a cliché, according to one soul who felt that such a space wasn’t necessary and any corner of any table would do. Not sure then what they would think of one of my friends who uses an old Victorian lavatory closet as a writing room. No need to guess what she uses as her chair … but it does necessitate the use of a very comfy cushion as well …
You may not have the luxury of a room that you can use as a space, or if you find the kitchen table or corner of a sofa perfectly adequate then fantastic, but I do think that any creative endeavour can only be enhanced with a few extra bits and pieces to get you into the creative mood.
If you don’t feel the need to scour junk shops for trays or baskets then how about a creative box or an old trolley? Anything, in fact, that you can utilise to put you into the right frame of mind to create. Preparing to be creative is just as important as the act itself and bringing out your implements, even if only as far as the kitchen table, will set your creative spirit to go.
I like to think of it in very much the same way as you would plan a production – I set the scene by having as many creative stimuli around me as I can – from pictures that inspire me, trinkets from my past, and musical playlists.
I even have a thinking chair– that’s a chair I think in, of course, and not one capable of independent thought, because if it could do that then it would certainly be emptying the cat’s litter tray every day …
Ultimately, it is very much personal choice as to where you create and the best space of all is the one that works for you, but whatever that may be, do make it somewhere that advances your creativity to the very best it can be.
A stimulating creative space is well worth any effort you are prepared to make. You will see above that one picture in particular dominates mine – the poster from the 2015 Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition at the V&A. It was truly spectacularly mind-blowing and completely changed my understanding of creativity, and where I could go with it. When I walk into the room it is the first thing I see, and is the very best reminder that I could ever need of the power contained in the space where I create …
There is no way back for me now, I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed possible. – Alexander McQueen