I’d say I’m not your average lifestylist/ writer/ creative entrepreneur. Fortunately, or unfortunately … depends which way you want to look at it… I come from an education background.
Art and Design is my subject and 2010 was my qualifying year. It’s worth knowing that initially I actually trained as a Design Technology Teacher, but I found myself more interested in the splashing of paint and dripping of inks than the sawing of wood and making of boxes. I was seduced by the allure of creative freedom. So, I got in…
I think one of my most memorable career moments was three years in… I found myself just about to take on a new post as Subject Leader of Art and Design… in a PRU! For those of you who may not be aware… PRU stands for Pupil Referral Unit or… School for pupils permanently excluded from mainstream education… usually due to social & emotional difficulties, challenging behaviour and/or special educational needs.
Let’s just say this… before I actually started the role. I was seriously starting to wonder what on earth I was thinking … I toyed with the idea that someone may have spiked my drink on a night out or maybe they had put me under some sort of hypnotic trance and coerced me into the whole thing… applying for the role, going to the interview, signing the final contract…
It was all me though. I applied, I interviewed, I got the job, now I just had to do the job! Gulp!
I remember first arriving at the school and being introduced to my new tutor group, a class of teenage boys with a no-holds-barred approach to telling me exactly what they thought of me, the school and the education system. They also had a penchant for screwing up small paper balls and launching them for target practice… Can you guess who the target was?
I remember my first set of art lessons and being asked lots of questions! “Why are you here”… “Where has the old art teacher had gone”,” How long are you gonna be here?” Why don’t you have any eyebrows?” 😵 I Also recall being told in no uncertain terms that art is a dead subject and that it would not be needed for any future development so there really was no point in doing any work.
I was accused just being in it for the paycheck… of telling lies and selling dreams. They remained unconvinced. At this point…so was I.
I needed to do something and fast! After all, it was I who would be solely responsible for their progression in this ill-perceived and decidedly irrelevant subject. Hmmm…
That evening after school, I decided to take action. I cleared the art room from top to bottom. I moved table chairs, desks and even large wooden cabinets… At the time, I didn’t have much work to put up on the walls but what I did have, I displayed proudly with glittery stars and coloured backing.
Let us take a little detour shall we…I’m curious … which of the following classrooms do you think would inspire the most creativity from within you?
The next day, as students entered the classroom I noticed a subtle but noticeable change in the energy in the room. I was met with the same (albeit slightly softened) hostile glares that were now unmistakably laced with an air of curiosity… “Why did you change the room” one of them asked … “Is that my work on the wall” said another “I don’t like my work on display”. “Why have you moved the table’s” some demanded. It wasn’t quite the reaction I was hoping for but… during the course of that lesson I noticed something was starting to happen… I started to see a shift…
It might have been something to do with my having taken ownership over the classroom, or to do with the shock of the big change, but the seemingly unconnected act of upgrading the classroom environment actually went a long way towards me building better relationships with those students.
They started to work… and more consistently too! Many of them without even complaining! In fact, some of them even started tell me that they were looking forward to their art lessons! Score!
There was just one tiny problem… after a while, I started to wonder if I had created too much of a good thing. I soon had students scrambling to find their way into the room at every hour… literally. It usually happened when they were scheduled to be in Maths, Science or something or that sort. I also remember two young students barricading me into the room with the tables because they wanted to carry on with their art instead of going to break… I was meant to be on break duty… 👀
Anyway, the point of my story is this, having a space for creativity and self-expression really is of the utmost importance, not just for young people but for all of us! Even those who do not necessarily believe in its place, its purpose or its value. In fact, … I’d go as far as to say they are some of those that need it the most!
As an individual I am hugely passionate about interiors, I believe that our home ’s should be designed in such a way that they inspire not just our thoughts, but also our dreams. Interiors should be simple enough that they allow us to think clearly and with just the right amount of colour to inspire our imaginations! They should also be comfortable, comforting and should be a distinct reflection of who we really are.
Another detour: Again I’m curious…which of the following interior spaces do you think might inspire your creativity further?
For me the interior space is at the very core a reflection of us; I’m a strong believer in the idea that the home should be an expression of individuality; a reflection of … our tastes, our values, our way of life.
Our lives are massively shaped by our experiences, and the world around us, thus we must make it a priority to create new and interesting spaces and seek new experiences. In doing so, I believe that we create room for new passions, new skills and new ways of thinking.
When you really think about it… at the end of the day, when all is said and done… our experiences, our memories and the spaces we inhabit are the things that make us who we were, who we are and who we become.
Seek art in the act of everyday living…