Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Letting go of my studio

A deja-vu moment 

... as two years (2001?) or so into the illness I also de-constructed a studio. A small amount of art materials were saved and stored in boxes in the shed of my new home. Over the years they came out when I became able to sculpt again, and later do art projects with the kids in my street.

Move forwards a decade or so and once again I had a fully fledged studio in the garden of my (again) new home. It was/is a thing of beauty. (See photo at bottom of page)

With help I made this puppet-hospital bed for the 
‘Invisible Octopus’ project. (2019)
A year later my day-bed was put at this spot in my studio.

It was a place for me to create - to be in the garden and close to the birds. My ever inspiration. Many a sculpture and puppets were created - all at twenty minutes at the time. Each piece taking months to make. But I had time.


After facilitating the ‘Life Outside the Box’ puppet project I started teaching in my studio. A place where stories were created and shared. I am looking back at this time with great privilege and gratitude. 

The last class of three students finished in early 2018. After this I moved to online teaching. When supporting my students online was no longer possible either the course is now accessible as self directed course. Sharing decades of learning, with videos recorded in my studio.

One of my student’s work (Lorraine Shanahan) 
Trying out a Mohican hairstyle 


In 2019 I had to acknowledge that my studio wasn’t so accessible for me anymore. My dear friend Heike reconfigured the space and we did a good clear out. That same year I received a mentoring bursary from Arts & Disability Ireland to explore how I could still tell my story creatively. ‘Invisible Octopus’ was the result.

With mentor Emma Fisher
(and Aram who did some film trials) in my studio
Before studio was reconfigured in 2019

However I was only in the studio - in this beautiful place - when I had practical support. I could not make what my mind designed. I was never in my studio on my own. 

A tidy and more accessible space.


Last summer I very symbolically sold my work table and again (with carer/PA) did a further clear out. A reconfiguring of space. I now had a day-bed by the window. A place to rest instead of create, The space did retain its creative feel. My puppets, dolls and other people’s artworks were all around me. I was granted some beautiful moments of being part of my garden from the comfort of this bed.

The table gone - a day-bed in its place

But it wasn’t always safe for me to take the few steps to the studio. Two steps down from my kitchen door - about 7 to the next easy steps. At times I couldn’t get up off the bed. Also I realised that the place was too cold during autumn and winter.

The most recent re-configuring (2021)

Taking into account that I am less mobile and spending more time horizontally, a big BIG decision was made to move the day-bed into front room of my home.

The studio had its biggest clear out yet of art and craft books, and most materials. Even my puppets and dolls were brought into the house, and are now stored away. (Will share their stories one day - for now see Instagram)

A work in progress.
Seeing this broke my heart, but at the same time is ok...

The ‘right-ness’ and ‘odd-ness’

The good thing is that lots of materials have found other creative minds, young and ‘old’. At least they are being used! The very mixed emotion is that it is kind of ok to clear my space (I like the sorting), but at the same time sitting in this deconstructed space makes me cry. It feels too ‘odd’. Thinking about it makes me swallow rather hard. It is tough. It is an other letting go. Another acknowledgment that illness is very much in control.

New creative space?

Very few art materials survived the culling and are now in the same space as my day-bed. This space has also seen a major transformation, from study (where my books were created) to a space where I did my shadow puppetry last year, to a place of rest. My ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ room, as one carer calls it is also a place where I can eat in silence and not be around the inevitable noises of the kitchen. (Story for another day)

I have no idea if I will use any of the saved art materials but it does feel good to hang on to the possibility. 

The studio space... my garden room... is in the process to being cleaned properly. The paintings will remain on the wall. Maybe it will be a place where I can have my lunch some days. Who knows.

It is ok, and it is very very ‘odd’.

The remainder of my art materials.
A studio in a few baskets.

My studio (photo from before the garden
 makeover two years ago)

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