Well, you know how it is?
Sometimes, you have to keep things secret until they are all signed and sealed, in case they all go horridy wrong, as a small girl once said…
Dan and I spent much time looking and trying to compromise (not with each other, but with the spaces). I decided I needed to find somewhere possibly by myself just to keep working, even if it was temporary while we carried on looking. The bursary money ran out fairly quickly really, so the time we could spend pounding streets and meeting people became gradually less feasible.
So that’s what I did. I found a really good space much closer to home, in Stourbridge. It was an interesting space and very reasonable. But it had a different set of compromises to contend with and weigh up. It was attached to the Ruskin Mill College, and if I took a studio, I would have to undertake a certain amount of student mentoring. That in itself didn’t bother me, but if I was to commit, it would have to be whole-heartedly, not just as a means to a cheap studio. I would also be surrounded by craftspeople, mainly in glass works of various types. Now I’m not a snob or an art/craft separatist, but it does have a different vibe to that of a community of fine artists (often no bad thing, but that’s another discussion perhaps?)
Anyway, having listed pros and cons, I applied. After several weeks, I was turned down. Interestingly, despite my desperation, I wasn’t anywhere near as disappointed as I thought I would be!
What happened then was nothing short of miraculous in my eyes… My friend and fellow artist Sarah Goudie asked me to share her space instead! I was touched, and grateful but cautious… We talked it over, how it would be, how it could work, what our preferences are… And decided to give it a whirl, with a review date somewhere round Christmas just in case I’m so awful she has to chuck me out! That’s ok, I have insight, I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.
This week, she gave me the keys, and I could barely get to the end of “thank you” before a big fat ploppy tear ran down my face. It then dawned on me, with a big slap, how close I was to the edge, how I was hanging on by my fingernails.
This weekend I moved in. I’ll paste in a terrible photograph so you can see how bloody wonderful it is.
I sat, I unpacked, in this order: the kettle and mugs, the speakers, the mic, and the sketchbooks. I selected a few books to take, I covered tables, and put some of my work up on the wall. Sarah’s half of the room is monochrome, elegant and sophisticated, my half of the room looks like an explosion in a Haribo factory.
My tremendously supportive (and mostly uncomplaining) husband and son fetched and carried and dumped and drove and sweated, so I had everything I needed, and could unpack myself slowly. I mean unpack myself too. I have not made anything for six months other than knitted six doll vests. I’ve written songs, but not made anything. My head needs to slowly and peacefully unwind itself. The space I share now is a huge high-ceilinged Victorian library building, once used by the art college. It has stained glass, marble and stone floors, wood and iron banisters, heavy wooden doors, and the light! Oh my god the light!
Thank you Sarah. I know that you know how much it means, because you offered it.
Forever grateful for your friendship,