General Office Gallery Space, Hagley Road, Stourbridge DY8 1PS
West Midlands

A review of and reflection on our first Women’s Study Day at General Office Gallery Space in Stourbridge, West Midlands.  In collaboration with Elena Thomas we facilitate monthly Creative Study Days which aim to stimulate personal creative thinking through spatial drawing activities.

‘Drawing Your Space’ has developed out of the Artist Teacher Scheme (ATS) run from the Fine Art Department of BCU.  ‘Drawing in Space’ as it was then known was a two day activity that introduced and stimulated participants on the ATS to consider spatial drawing and in turn their own creative potential.  Always a rich, intense and reflective time!

Elena Thomas and I observed a very different approach to the space that men and women claimed and their pursuit of that.  The difference challenged us to set up women only Study Days (alongside the mixed days) in order to investigate this further.  A successful and reflective two day pilot study took place in August 2018 and our first Study Day took place last weekend.

Five women arrived from as far as York, Lichfield, Coventry and the surrounding Midlands.  We started with conversation and images of playful and stimulating spatial sculptural work, including Chiharu Shiota, Phillida Barlow, Sheela Gowda and drawing works that tip the traditional by Barbara Walker and Susan Pui San Lock.  We could have talked all day – the edit of subject and image has been a fascinating and long one!  We had quotes – we love a quote!  Poets, artists, gardeners… creative thinkers. ‘What is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?!’ Mary Oliver.

A pile of string, cardboard, wire, plastic sheets and ‘bits’ sat in the gallery space – the women started to make – this group stretched themselves beyond the corners – the inevitable weaving of body and line soon started to shimmer. During the initial talk we suggested the thoughts of the day – we have questions not answers, we have process, we have a turning towards, we have time and space and possibility.  We hear you, we see you.  We talked about building resourceful creative habit rather than dragging the dead dog of discipline behind us.  These thoughts and suggestions resonated in the making – energy and collaboration quietly grew.  Time for a shift and a change… avoid preciousness, avoid the finish… enjoy the opening of what you are doing… not falling to a close.


The afternoon marked a paper filled gallery – walls hung with bright orange, yellow, green and white paper.  We talked women’s place in the art world; the words of Frances Morris: ‘ … it really is still a case of pushing and pushing and making opportunities and never being complacent’.  We held the question of honouring women artists who have come before – and keeping the air open for those who follow.  The paper fills with emerging images, some known some a surprise – all speaking the hand that made them!  We salute the group!

What reveals itself in the abundance of paper and the joy of time and space is for those women to reveal, however for Elena and I it is further energy for our investigations; how do you create uninhibited space for women (and men) to put their creativity in a more central place – how can we consider and build a strong creative foundation, a place to return, a place that compassionately remains intact.  Looking forward already to the next one!