Last weekend, which was the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, things had got so bad in my sewing room that I couldn’t face going into it, and when I did I found it very hard to navigate across the floor. It was like reverse stepping stones: I had to leap between the bags of who knows what all over the floor (see above photo). So, I girded my loins and decided to have a tidy up and clear-out. I knew that I had a good three days, which meant that I could do a bit at a time as I know from past experience that just clearing out is really boring and actually quite tiring. So I spend three or four hours a day and finally finished with an hour yesterday. I had five bin liners of assorted rubbish and one for the charity shop.
I went from this:
A ‘kind friend’ sent me this to taunt me:
And it is, of course, the ideal, but it’s a scrapbooker’s stash. Textiles, the way I do them, require a huge stash of bits which are unruly and will never stack away like these beautifully racked pens. So, I was impressed with myself for getting the room to a stage where I can easily walk round it to find things and to put them away.
While I was doing it, though, I couldn’t help thinking about a publication called Where Women Create which has the most mind-boggling images of women’s studios and work spaces. I bought the book when it came out with a missclick on Amazon, and my mother and I really enjoyed being cynical about it and its perfections:
It is now a magazine, and if you put ‘Where Women Create’ into Pinterest you get a whole wadge of images of exquisite workrooms:
I think this is a kind of pornography for women. It presents us with an ideal of what is desirable that very few of us have the means to attain. I don’t have the space for these remarkable rooms, even though I have the entire loft conversion to myself, and I don’t have the resources to kit it out in this beautiful way. Fortunately, we can dismiss this as fantasy and just enjoy the absurdity of the pictures (unlike pornography itself), and the book really is a delight in its own way.
What did surprise me, though, about my own room, was just how deflated I felt after I had cleared it up, and how I haven’t really wanted to make anything since I did it. It feels a bit like the muse was disturbed and has gone off to find a new home. I was expecting to feel elated and proud of myself, but I just feel a bit empty. Also, I had one of those terrible intimations of mortality: I knew that I would never have time to use all the stuff in that room. It would outlive me, and that was quite depressing.
I would be really interested in hearing if anyone else has experienced this flat feeling after clearing up what was clearly a very creative mess – in my case. I’m really not sure how to account for it.