Jamila I.

A discomfiting paradox : many of us needing to set limitations in our creative endeavours and the reality for so many others who have no choice but to do their creative work with the severest limitations, not just of materials or studio space/time but conflict, extreme poverty, and so on. How amazing and encouraging then, that so many of the most beautiful textiles in the world are created in the hardest of conditions and with the most basic of equipment and materials – a salutary lesson and for me, considering this week’s topic, a timely reminder.

I realise now that I find this quite disturbing – an unnecessary excess. Why am I still holding on, and indeed adding, to a stash of stuff that I will probably never use?? “The seduction of possibility”, as Jane so eloquently puts it. But such possibility does not of itself generate creativity, in fact it can be a millstone and I do genuinely feel quite constrained by so much stuff, which seems to gain a life and momentum of its own.

A Japanese former colleague of mine once said very profoundly that “there is no coincidence without a reason.” Profound indeed. So, it’s no coincidence that this course has come along just after a lovely upgrade of my studio. Of course, this required a total clearance of the room, which prompted a knock-on and urgent need to actually look at all this stuff – I’m not proud of the volume that’s accumulated, so an active programme of sifting, sorting and clearing is now under way, and apart from the feelings of liberation and motivation that this action creates, there is also the thought that others will find good uses for these things. A win-win situation.

Clearing of stuff clears the brain fog too.

The main space-occupying offenders are several plastic creates of fabric, mostly dressmaking fabrics whose snippets hold memories of time or place, or garments long-gone. I’ve resolved to keep these only to the end of my diploma course (six months maximum) as fabric scraps are sometimes required for the never-ending sets of samples. After that, I’m going to take a small piece of each and create a couple of stitched books where the memories can be stored and accessed if needed. The rest can then move on to its next destination.

It’s interesting that as I progress on my creative journey, I now to prefer to construct my own cloth rather than work with ready-made! Unless it’s silk, of course.

Am determined to work towards “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Plus, nothing new – or nearly nothing – comes in unless I can see a clear or imminent use for it. In this way I hope to avoid a future embarrassment of riches. That requires a major shift in mind-set from speculative shopping, such as at craft shows, to purposeful purchasing with a project in mind, or as a replacement of stock.

I’ve also resolved to have in my studio only those items that are required for the work in hand. As I decide on the absolute must-haves to always be in the studio (which is not large), I find that it actually doesn’t amount to very much.