A written piece about my previous and current happy places
For more information on the studio I have a space in please see http://2queens.com/
•(With possessive adjective) a place which a person associates with happiness, visualized as a means of reducing stress, calming down, etc.; (hence) a happy state of mind.
Since my breakdown and move to Leicester in 2011 I have become more interested in finding and utilising a happy place. I hadn’t really thought of this concept beforehand as I was very consumed with a poor relationship and rushing around from workplace to workplace so I could earn enough to keep my self going in London.
I suppose before my breakdown my happy place might have been my little flat. I loved it and enjoyed the fact it has its very own spiral staircase. Living in such a small place I also had to be extra clean and organised. I used to love coming home after a long day at work, making a tea and staring at my aquariums.
At the time I was also in love with one of my workplaces; a very old pub in North London with wooden floors and beams on the ceiling. It had a cosy, interesting atmosphere and I enjoyed the sociable nature of the work; as a staff member, the small team I worked with felt like an extended family and we would all support each other.
Don’t get me wrong, I love owning my own home however it comes with responsibilities. I have a list of things to fix which aren’t immediate and have been waiting for ages, I also hate when I have random emergencies which usually involve the occasional water leak or fence panel falling down. I hate gardening and hate housework nearly as much.
My home is a happy place of sorts however I struggle with healthy routines due to the nature of my work. If I focus on gardening, going for a run, cooking healthy food and tidying up all in one day and all after work I feel unfulfilled creatively. For example if I finish at 5pm one day and do all of the above then by the time I finish it is about 9pm and I only have one hour until bedtime to try and do anything creatively productive. By that time I need to start winding down to sleep and to be honest that makes me feel a bit sad.
As a hoarder my house is quite cluttered. I try to be clean but I am not always the cleanest despite sporadic efforts. I am not sure if I am viewing this wrong or not but in some way home ownership is a blessing and also a curse. For example I used to love moving city every few years and liked the freedom that renting provided. It wasn’t until I felt like moving again but didn’t have the money that I realised that I liked the newness because it allowed me to escape from myself for a few years. I made a conscious decision that I was now in a very safe place and I needed to face the person that I am and try to get to know her. If anyone can teach me how to love myself or point me in the right direction then it would be appreciated.
In some ways my having my own house makes me feel like a fraud. I remember while I was at university one of my housemates criticized me saying I got everything handed on a plate to me just because I was due to get enough inheritance to buy a house with. I am sure she was jealous of my good fortune but part of me thinks that if she thinks that, who else does? I would still rather have both my parents alive and well but they did their best for me and have given me the protection of my own home in their departure for which I am grateful.
The last happy place I had is a large drain in Leicester; this remained my happy place through out 2014 when I was out exploring a lot with my friends. If anyone from the urban exploring community is reading this, I am not writing this to make the hobby popular or to ruin it for anybody; this drain was just my happy place.
It began with a rather stoopy entrance through a muddy river bed and chemical waste; after a short while it really opened up into a large concrete space with a small stream running along the floor. It was comfortable to stand up in and you can get interesting sound effects there. Along the way there were occasional manholes and chains across the flow which are there to collect debris and are easy enough to step over.
This was never a space I would dare visit on my own and after a while I realised that it wasn’t about the drain, it was about the people I was with. At the time I had a number of close friendships; over the years and as life has unfolded some of these people have gone from my life and others I don’t have much of a relationship with any more. I remember losing a couple of my friends and I went through the grief process for around six months per person.
I rarely explore these days; working shifts and not driving get in the way. I am also quite lazy and hate going on public transport with my camera bag, tripod and wellies as I find it quite irritating and stressful. A lot of my exploring friends live a lot further away now so I hardly ever see them any more. I have very fond memories of this happy place and some photographs which are nice. For me it was of it’s time and over time we have all had to move on.
I have only been in my studio space since the beginning of summer 2017; I was a regular at the gallery beforehand and would try and invite myself in to look around the studio spaces as often as I could. After waiting around a year a space became available and I realised that in order to be offered a space, a person but be invited. I was over the moon the day I moved in and since then spending time in my space has become a regular occurrence during my week depending on the hours I am working.
This space is special to me because I struggle to make art at home due to the hoarding and due to the fear that I might accidentally knock paint everywhere and ruin the carpet or that I might hammer too much stuff into the wall and leave ugly looking holes all over the place.
My studio space isn’t inspected and commented on by family as often as my home although it still gets comments about having a very art studio smell about it. It is a safe space for my creativity and it is up to me who I invite in and who I don’t. I feel safe and relaxed there apart from if I get a bit spooked by strange noises when I am there alone in the evening.
More importantly my space encourages my creative side to come out to play. I don’t think I have filled a sketchbook as quickly since university and I seem to be having idea upon idea at the moment. I just have to be a bit careful about how much money I spend on materials and when I spend the money as I need to be mindful of the bills I have to pay and the other things I enjoy doing.
This happy place is easily accessible and it is safe for me to be alone there which to me are quite important factors. My recent films of ‘Art in the dark’ are all about me being alone in the building looking around the gallery by torchlight. I like bringing an urban exploring element into them and it is a perspective on art I have never taken before. At the moment I am happy to continue this and to feel safe enough to try and make a go of it.
My studio space also offers me time for personal reflection and reading; I have found myself getting back into contextual studies which I hated at university – for some reason it has become more important for me to try and figure out where my work fits into the wider art world. I found myself buying a copy of Art Review the other day and I have since been really enjoying staring at the images and reading about the work of other artists.
The new friendships I am forming also feel good although I feel sometimes that I am a bit interruptive and annoying towards the others in the space. I try and talk to them when they are busy so I can get batted away fairly often. A lot of the time I find that I have a need to talk to other people and a need for interaction, especially when I have just finished work and want to share my day with someone. In some ways I can become very lonely; although I have a lot of friends I live alone and don’t have a partner to confide in. At some stage I will need to learn to be a bit more self contained but reaching out to other people is a big support and comfort for me.
I hope I can keep my little studio space for a long time to come; I am not there as much as I would like to be but really cherish the time I get to spend there. This place is my new happy place and I love it. I really hope I can make enough decent artwork to do the place justice.
This evening I am tired; it’s 22.22 which to some might be a magic number and it’s August the 2nd 2017 – for some reason I love to include the date and time of when I write, I have had a very challenging day at work so am currently listening to Awaken, My love by Childish Gambino which has somehow become my new thinking music. I have a glass of cheap white wine by my side and am sat on the sofa. My knee hurts because I have one leg crossed under the other. In a minute I will make myself another hand rolled cigarette, read through this one more time then set to work making a special happy place page on my website.