One year on, a New year and the creative ‘shed’

So, we are well into 2016 and I feel like taking a little moment to reflect on 2015, which seemed to evaporate like the lit booze on a Christmas pudding!

If I can be honest, 2015 was a hard year. It’s frustrating as it had all the ingredients of a great year!

  • Road trips in the US with my best friend (I am very aware of the blog never being finished, and it seems stupid to do it now so sod it)
  • Country walks in Wales
  • Getting a new Kitten and naming it Steve (highlight)
  • Sunny beach holidays in Spain
  • Engaging Graphic design projects with my uncle (2am edit chats on the phone!)
  • Curry in Birmingham

…and to top it all off a magical Christmas in Sweden with friends and family. Let it be said, that each and everyone of these experiences were wonderful in their own right!

But, 2015 was a year of grieving. I lost my older brother on Boxing Day to his long fight with drugs and mental health, and no matter what I was up to in 2015 there was a cloud of sadness.

Living in the city and the same house that my brother and I grew up in, I found myself tripping over ghosts on every corner…and it always takes me by surprise. I found myself crying in the car as I drove past KFC (his favourite) or one of the millions of pop culture references that air on the T.V or Radio that I will forever associate with my childhood and him. He has ruined Star Wars forever!

I would be enjoying myself in some kind of activity and then the grief/memory would hijack my brain at every given opportunity. Walking down 5th Avenue in New York, checking out the buildings and the people…then it creeps in…”last time I was in New York he was alive…I bought him some trainers at Dirty Rat Bastard” or I’m eating a banana split in a cafe on the Costa Del Sol…boom “I remember stealing the chocolate sauce from the bottom of his glass while he was not looking, when we were on holiday as kids” I was probably far to emotionally involved while watching Escape from New York, with a live score performance at the Union Chapel…a film that Simon and I would recite the script to. Should the sight of Snake Pliskin make we want to break down and sob!

I also realise I have become so self-conscious of mentioning him too much amongst friends or colleagues. I will mention him in some anecdote or nostalgic tale and then feel awkward or worried that I am making the listener awkward, they know I’m talking about my dead brother. I am then also more aware of when I do mention him, so then I wonder if I am talking about him more than usual, which could be true. Now I am wondering if I am mentioning him too much in this blog!!!! Aaaaaah!

There is also the fact, that I spent the whole year hurtling towards the anniversary and thinking about my Mother and my Niece and how they would feel. How I would feel. How should it be acknowledged….should it be acknowledged. Will Christmas ever be OK again…You just cannot predict how it will effect you.

I don’t have any choice words or advice on any of this by the way. These are clueless observations. I guess just fill the year with stuff and eventually the veil will lift? I hope.

Anyhow, I try an consider myself a glass half full kind of girl. So, with one year on also comes the New Year. I try not to get caught up with all the resolution making, but there is this sense of ‘fresh start’ that is quite intoxicating. Also death makes you think about life and the things that are important to you. These thoughts do send me into moments of self inflicted panic, ‘what am I doing with my life’ moments. But I don’t always see these as a bad thing, if used productively.

I had one of those moments while sat in a beautiful apartment in Stockholm, two days before New Years. I fantasised about having such a home and filling it with collected furniture and things, having space and place to entertain (My partner and I still live at home with my mum, and though after reading an article about the rising numbers of 25 -35 year olds still living with a parent, and the fact that I have low outgoings and am very lucky….it’s still not an ideal long term plan…fact)

Issue one is about space and more importantly a creative space. Sleeping, eating, entertaining and working in one room is tough. Every activity you do, you must then clean up and put away in order to do the next. When working on creative projects this is a killer. Non-existent is the luxury of leaving any piece, to return to it the next day with fresh eyes and carry on. In my house a cat will walk on it or it will end up with a tea stain! Also, I can never remember what ‘Bits’ I have in stock. Any crafter/artist will know that we are all professional hoarders. We keep all the ‘bits’ we can find, as in our heads we have some future project that that ‘thing’ will be much needed. Without having my ‘bits’ on view I will never use them. I found 10 polystyrene balls the other day in a dusty box on top of my wardrobe. This was after I had just bought more online.

With lack of a dedicated space, comes lack of productivity. In all honesty I know i’m not giving my creative pursuits enough time to make them viable, or move them from Hobby to an actual business, making money…which is the other (rather damning) factor in any future dreams/prospects. (But do not take that as me thinking only money can make someone happy….but it certainly helps you get there)

So after my self-induced life crisis, in that flat in Stockholm, I took to the internet and began looking for studios for rent. I have rented spaces previously with a friend several years ago. These were short lets in buildings that were under planning talks. We had a habit of causing every building we moved into to be bought or planning approved for development/demolishment within a few months, though it could just be me. I also used a space at a friends 30 year old squat, which within 6 months of me being there the eviction letters came…ooops!

I found some likely candidates via Gumtree and other artist space listings. Prices have indeed risen and square meters of space have lessened, space is a premium! Three weeks later I had a viewing and after one sleepless night and boring everyone with the ‘should I, Shouldn’t I’ questions I placed the holding deposit! Take that life!

As I am now paying for this premium, very well located, space, I have quite the incentive to make it worthwhile. I guess I have kind of set myself an enforced resolution, which rather than focused on my stomach fat (though there is certainly an issue there!) is focused on my creativeness (if that is a word?) A space to explore my talents and idea’s. A dedicated space. I plan to use it (amongst other project) as focused space to develop the Itty & Fee brand (which did take quite a few rows of back seats last year) It will also become my shed…I need a good armchair and stove in there!

So grief and the feeling of coasting along with no horizon in sight, is slowly being replaced with excitement and some panic to get my shit together.

I don’t want to end on the cliche theme, that I do these things in honour of my brother. Because, to be honest, I was getting on with my life way before he passed. We were very different creatures, but I take the sense of loss and the new appreciation for relationships, opportunities and new ideas in my life, as I get on with it. Instead of New Years resolutions….I want New Year inspirations.

I move into studio this week and will keep a diary of progress…if that fails…lots of photos of me drinking tea in my ‘Shed’





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