I’m in the process of setting up a small creative space at home where I can write, learn more about photography, and maybe even pick up a drawing pencil and paint brush again. The operative word being (corner-of-a-room) small. But in coming to understand that the creative pursuits in my life are as vital as oxygen itself to keeping all of my parts happily connected, I’d like to dedicate even the smallest area of an already shared space to honouring that.
Waiting until an ideal or dream space materializes to take creative risks is perhaps the darkest kind of self-defeat. It’s a way of cheating yourself out of what could happen, what you might create amidst the waiting. And perhaps that’s the fearful part, one of the reasons we remain stuck, unfulfilled: telling ourselves we can’t paint because we don’t have a real studio; we can’t play music because we don’t have the right set-up; we can’t write because there’s no door to close on a room that is our own. And, well, I’m sure you can fill in the rest.
It’s true that there are all sorts of fertile conditions in which creativity takes root and flourishes. And those vary for each of us. I know (and my children will eagerly testify with frowns) that I need a quiet atmosphere to read, and certainly to write. Hell be to anyone who sits near me in a library (or, I’ll admit, even the living room) who is even murmuring … I will stealthily, unhappily, approach. I know that I need this meditative time to cancel out the noise not just around me, but within me. I am (demonstrably) frazzled without it and cannot write a word. Then there are instances where my creative state of mind is influenced less by the conditions of the space itself, and more by the intense buzz that’s generated from creating alongside others.
But here’s the thing of it all: I’m at a point in life where there are simply more years behind than there are ahead. Unless, like my grandmother, I win the gene lottery and ring in 103 years, this is an unalterable fact, as startlingly clear as crystalline water. I still manage to do a fine job of entangling myself in worry about it. Which is largely unproductive, because after all, none of us ever knows how much of life lies ahead. Worry aside, it means that I’m so very ready to make this next stretch truly matter. To construct and create with consideration for all that is left, to capture moments with thoughtfulness and even gentleness—to make a difference to my life and in the lives of those I love and whose paths may join with mine.
And so this has me thinking about how and where and what I create. While my space is small, my ideas for transforming it are immense. Looking at images of other people’s workspace ignites possibility. And it has me wanting to share some of these creative spaces with you weekly, as I pull together my own little patch. I’d love to hear if you have a spot dedicated to creative work, whether it’s a room, a corner, a studio, a couch, or a favourite place outdoors.
To kick things off, I bring you London journalist Daisy Garnett’s workroom (oh, the table! The TABLE.) Some call it her office. I call it home-comfort-perfection. Give me the patina of old wooden floor boards, a threadbare rug and a farmhouse table and I’m done in. As Daisy says:
“This room may look jumbled, but it’s a temple of minimalism compared with how I used to live! My partner says I hoard things and we have a rule that if a new book comes in, another has to go. But my workroom is full of pieces acquired with love. I say ‘my’ workroom, although it’s meant to be shared. I have a real, visceral feeling of it being my space.”