September 4 2016
A White Room

‘A room of my own…” and be in it, quietly.
Virginia Woolf
 
Talking with artist and writer friends about making sufficient time to create, I thought I’d write about what I’m up to this month. People automatically translate living on an island as I do into the ultimate quiet space to create. That can be true, but many Island dwellers will tell you their lives can be as crazy here as anywhere else. I’m not completely sure why that is but it’s definitely the case for many of us.
 
British writer A.S.Byatt in an interview on Writers & Co. with Eleanor Wachtel discussed the importance of “being left alone to work out who we are, with theories of what we are”.  One response to the pressures of life is to find private time and space, to do just that. Byatt said her co-existing-fantasy was “To be alone in a place…in a white room with a white bed and just think things out, it’s something you absolutely need if you are then going to go back into the world and live in it.”
 
Usually I create in what is pretty much my perfect working space. I’ve written before that it feels like ‘old slippers’ when I settle in to my studio for the day. But this opportunity to create somewhere else takes me out of what can be too comfortable a routine. Importantly a residency offers exploration of new ideas without the everyday interruptions we have or invent in our own environments. When I was offered the 4-week self-diected residency at Blue Horse Gallery on Salt Spring Island, I realized I didn’t have to travel across the world to find a place to immerse myself in new work.  It simply needed to be somewhere private and other than my own studio.
 
It seems the same no matter what form your creativity takes, as New York Times writer Andrew O’Hagan says in his article about writing  "A Hotel Room of One's Own"  “writers have long known, checking into a hotel…”
Whatever your craft, creativity needs space and energy to evolve and grow.
As a friend just eloquently wrote to me, this time offers a powerful, creative and deeply reflective time with yourself, and your muse.

Near the end of this residency there will be the added bonus of time spent with other artists as we create dialogue about our work, our process and where it might be going. By then I'll be ready to raise my head and share the view from their vantage point. No doubt it's a creative challenge for any of us; that blank surface, the white page or a white room. New beginnings can be calming...or daunting.

For now, time to witness the muse.

first image: A corner of Anna Gustafson’s new studio space where I’m working this month. My thanks to Anna for letting me work here before she settlles in to her new digs!

 

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