Behind the Scenes, Part 1: The Making Of.
For many years I dreamed of a space of my own where I could be creative at any time of the day or night, where I could leave my half finished project on the table overnight and come back in the morning to find it was still there, undisturbed! I wanted to be able to paint on the walls if I felt like it, hang up my plants and paintings and live in my creative space.
“ It's absolutely me. Living here feels like I opened my head and stepped inside. ”
In 2012 my family needed to dramatically downsize to a more manageable property after selling our 120 acre family home my parents bought a cottage on a few acres next to the Orara River. On the driveway, beside the rundown 1950's two bedroom house there was an old shed with a couple of rotten barn doors hanging off the hinges. We peeked inside the dark space filled with old rubbish and cobwebs and thought it was just a spot where the lawn mower was kept. Later, as my parents renovated the house and removed the years of dirt, weeds, mud slides, fallen trees and branches that had accumulated inside and all around the shed it was revealed just how large a space was hidden behind those doors.
I'd been hinting (begging) to turn the shed into my studio so I could make use of the space and sensibly pay rent to help support my family instead of handing over cash each month to 'strangers'... no, that's not as creepy as it sounds. I just needed the message to sink in and make sense to my future landlords. You know... "I'm a really quiet tenant", "who will take care of you when you're old?"... that sort of thing ;)
My dad is a carpenter by trade so he knew just how to make the most of what was left of the decayed building. We kept the hardwood frame, split it into 2 and dragged it to either end of a new slab base, filling in the middle section with a new frame and keeping the original shape of the structure with its vaulted hip roof ceiling and exposed beams.
New hardwood cladding, wool insulation, pine bead board lining, recycled windows and a few coats of white paint later...
I make it seem simple - it really was a great deal of hard work mostly on the part of my parents, though I did chip in with the paintbrush occasionally and of course was on site as project manager whenever I could get away from work. Eventually I had a bright empty space ready to fill with a truckload of craft supplies I'd had stored away while I was renting and moving house every year.
Now that the space is complete, at least once a year I open my studio for a tea party and open day where local visitors can see where I create, shop my handmade projects, art prints and jewellery creations.
I've now been living here for 3 years. Time certainly flies when you're having fun.