This year, I have been allocated an incredible studio space at the Ruskin; to say I’m overjoyed is an understatement. As gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside, I go out of my way to pass it, admiring the tall windows and beautiful stonework. If you think this sounds sad, you’re absolutely right, yet this is perhaps the most gorgeous studio space I will ever get to work in.
It’s a shame therefore, that I have so far spent most of my time in my sterile, hotel-style college room.
I am writing this whilst in self-isolation, having spent the past couple of days either sleeping, eating or weaving in my bed. I tried doing some yoga a few feet from my bed but felt far too silly to ever try again. It feels strange to be so concerned about work when a loved one is experiencing a health scare, and when your own mental health feels that little bit more fragile. I suppose I am lucky in that my art practice is my work, my creative outlet, my hobby and my self-care all in one.
I wouldn’t label myself as a textile artist as it’s early days to be pigeon-holing myself, but for the past half a year I have been experimenting with embroidery, rug-making and weaving. All of my work is done by hand as the process of making is as important to me as the final outcome, meaning that my 9-5 is almost exclusively filled with the same repetitive action. The most obscene amount of time I have spent on one piece is 150 hours, and while it would be a lie to say that it isn’t incredibly hard work, I find the process to be both soothing and rewarding.
And how do I unwind? Quite often with some other form of craft, which is usually knitting. I couldn’t exactly represent Wool and the Gang just yet as I can only knit scarves (funny, since I rarely wear them) but I find turning strands of wool into a fixed network so fascinating. Quite often, learning stitches or just immersing myself in the process of knitting will inform my art practice and inspire new ways of creating. Don’t get me wrong, these excessive hours spent inducing carpal tunnel are mostly accompanied with some kind of audible download, another binge of Peep Show or Dragostea Din Tei on a loop.
I really cannot stress enough the benefits of being creative. Whilst in lockdown, both at home and in my college room, making art and increasingly lavish scarves has really kept me sane. I can now look back on even my silliest, most roughly made crafts (Exhibit A: the hand-stitched doormat to only be seen by the postman) and smile, proud of how I managed to channel so much nervous energy into making something joyful and fun. I suppose that’s been my aim – finding purpose, often by making some really pointless things.
For anybody who finds themselves in lockdown over the next few weeks, I urge you to take some time out and just make something really stupid. Don’t be tempted to think too hard -just let your hands move and see what comes of it.
Create a collage to slot under your friend’s door. Knit a tea cosy. Crochet some socks for your mum. If you cannot use up your adrenaline with a run around the Meadow, throw all your energy into being crafty.