Crystal: Tell us a little about your background.
Jane: I trained initially in London in the 90’s in constructed textiles, my final degree show consisted of boxed and free-standing crochet/knit/metal sculptures, which was a shock for many as it was really supposed to be a fashion course. I could never reel the knitwear patterns in though, and they always became crazy structures. At first I tried to pass them off as costume to assuage the grumbling of tutors, but by my final year I had given up trying to fit in and so sculpture it was! Although I did initially go on to work in the fashion industry creating knitwear designs, I can make the great claim that my first job was crocheting syphilis viruses for a hospital in Greenwich...just my type of job!
Crystal: What makes this year different?
Jane: Well I think I am finally coming up for air this year and this creative habits project just spoke to me. When I found your site it really was a case of ‘right place and right time!’ Although my art practise have never stopped totally it has certainly in the last decade ebbed and flowed. I am sure many women find the same thing when they have little kids...your own life gets put on hold...well mine did anyway, I make no claims to superwoman status!
Not only did we have 3 kiddies very close together but we got thrown onto an unexpected roller coaster ride when my eldest daughter Tilly was diagnosed with an incredibly rare genetic syndrome, SMITH MAGENIS SYNDROME (SMS for short) when she was 2 and half years old. To say that the adjustment to this new reality was difficult would be an understatement, I often equate it to a bomb going off in our home because that is how it felt and it took me about 3 years to drag myself out of deep and dark depression.
Now nearly 5 years after diagnosis and with 2 out of 3 kiddies at school I am finding air and light again and have found myself looking around and remembering who I am once more. Time demands still have me bouncing around my days like a reactive lunatic, the ball in a pin ball machine...that’s me! So I had already realised time-management and routine were the issues to address in order to get my art practice developing again! When I saw your project it was like a ray of light at the end of a tunnel....so far it hasn’t turned out to be a train!
Crystal: Who/what inspires you?
Jane: My kids inspire me the most, so much of my work is autobiographical and the love I feel for them, the drama of our world with sms and this crazy life we are in is such an intense source of inspiration.
Pre Raphaelite art, the boxes of Joseph Cornell, the photography and amazing life story of Vivian Maier, anything kitsch and colourful and treasure hunting through charity shops, all things textural and old lace... it all inspires me! Reading and stacks of unread books at every turn, running, eves-dropping on strangers and daydreaming....the world is just a great big bucket of inspiration! I can never escape texture though, it was my first love and will remain a life long love affair...I will still be climbing into roadside skips to retrieve some interesting texture and embarrassing all levels of holy hell out of my husband when I'm in my 80’s of that I am certain!
Crystal: What creative habit(s) are you currently working on?
Jane: To begin the project I picked 2 creative habits. The first one a drawing habit: To create one doll a day for 30 days. But then I got an idea, lets do 100 dolls, and then I thought hey do a year of dolls! (I know...breaking rules, but the title A YEAR OF DOLLS AND ME has such a nice ring don’t you think!) But I also wanted to start a writing habit and have been writing for at least half an hour a day.
Crystal: How's it going for you? Tell us about your successes and struggles.
Jane: It’s fabulous and exciting and inspiring and like opening 1000 cans of worms all at once! Daily working makes so many connections and trains of thought meet up, multiply and never stop! I have broken the chain with the writing and fell into a panic, but after talking to you I realsied it was simple....just pick up and carry on! ( thanks for calming me down, just shows its important to find friends) I am also pleased I found a quick way to show what I’m doing....I opened a tumblr site here to keep me accountable and also am blogging here weekly about the project. Sharing is important.....you taught me that!
Biggest challenge for me is time still and energy levels....my daughter’s syndrome comes with a chronic sleep disorder so our nights are very short and very broken. Days begin at 6 and often earlier, nights are loud with totally broken sleep being as good as it gets! Getting up early enough to be child-free has proved to be impossible, Tilly wakes at 3 and creeping downstairs without her knowing is an impossible task! So my attempt at a morning writing habit is now often replaced with evening writing. My morning successes have been through including Tilly in my morning habit so she has a part to play, she is my snuggly writing buddy, she gets the throw to cover us up, I get our drinks, coffee for me warm milk for her....we have a joint routine to write and snuggle, it works even if I do have to type one-handed with the other arm firmly hugging her.
Crystal: What tips do you have for others who are just beginning?
Jane: My advice would be
- Be flexible and kind to yourself.....if the timing isn’t working try something else, or if life gets in the way one day.....pick it up the next!
- Do not underestimate the power of a visual cue for keeping a habit. The DONT BREAK THE CHAIN idea of crossing off days done on a calendar really holds a simple and yet powerful message.
- The joy of seeing quantity build is amazing! It inspires more! Make sure you look regularly at your work stash!
- Keep a notebook to hand at all times because daily working throws out many many connections of ideas and themes and you are going to have to record it down somewhere so they don't get lost. Recently I discovered a notecard system of holding thoughts and ideas....I love this idea....see here for a great post about this.
- Share what you are doing....it’s a fun and sociable way to be accountable.
- Allow yourself to work without the pressure of needing to be brilliant! Just play and enjoy it! Some things will be blahhhh others things will be nuggets of gold, you need it all for the process!
- Last bit of advice....come let me know if you are joining in, would love to follow you in your journey...we all need a creative tribe to cheer us on...will you be in mine?
Crystal: Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing with us. I'm excited to watch your journey this year.
PS. I didn't skip out on my own daily work today...you can see it here.