Friday, May 1, 2015

Staking a claim to a room of one's own

At the time I did not ask Jem to give me my own studio in the design. I didn’t think that I deserved one. What was I doing that needed a creative space? Nothing. If I was to use a creative space for something, would it make any money, like Jem’s? No. Did I have time anyway? I had a challenging senior position, and a long commute, and small children, and typically unfulfilled promises to self of daily exercise. ...

I had spent so long resenting that Jem and the boys did not see more in me, and yet how could I expect them to see what I did not value in myself? Men do not feel the need to justify time and space for creativity, play and exploration, for their own projects; they feel entitled to it and just claim it. I had been waiting for validation, and it sickened me. 

Sound familiar?

I was almost deafened by the bells ringing in my head while reading these words from Anna Trembath - you can read her full piece, "Bernie's Shed", on Catherine Deveny's website here.

It was 1929 when Virginia Woolf famously envisaged a ‘golden age’ when women would finally have leisure, money and a 'room of her own' — the elements she saw as essential for creative work. And yet, what she perhaps could not have predicted was the ongoing struggle of women to stake a rightful claim to these things!

I'm tempted to take a photo of my study -- maybe I will one day -- and share it with you. On the right of the room is my partner's desk: sleek, black, pristine. On its shiny surface is one widescreen computer; two speakers; a microphone; some piece of machinery with pads that light up when you tap them; and a piano keyboard. Displayed on top of the speakers is a green statue of the Buddha, his leather tobacco pouch, an old B&W photo of his mum, and a candle. Yep, it's positively Zen in that corner of the room!

On the left... my desk: small, shabby, wooden... and covered in piles of god knows what. Currently, it's housing a broken lamp; all the opened and unopened household bills; the kids' school notes; a bag of clothes for the op-shop; photos I've been meaning to put in albums for probably the past ten years; stacks of unread books waiting to be reviewed; and a box of kids' junk I must have collected from around the house, dumped in a box, then dumped on my desk...

So what is going on here? Somehow my partner has worked out how to respect his own creative needs. He would never consider dumping the kids' junk, unwanted goods and household bills into his sacred space. As for me... sadly, my desk is pretty symbolic of my struggle to prioritise this aspect of my life (and myself).

I am constantly telling other women that they can't wait for the world to give them permission to be creative; that they must give this permission to themselves - and that it all starts with carving out space: physical, psychological and practical. I think this year will have to be the one in which I take a dose of my own medicine.

2 comments:

moey said...

The fact that we have to "carve out space" says a lot doesn't it?

Rachel Power said...

Yes, I find myself using those words a lot - but you're right, they have big connotations!