Friday, 17 May 2013

Virginia Woolf was right

There is something to be said for having a room of one’s own. Virginia Woolf famously wrote that a woman must have a space of her own in order to write. But this could also apply to any creative endeavor. I could check my copy of her essay, ‘A Room of One’s Own’ for the exact quote but I can’t find it anywhere in my house amongst parenting books, interior design magazines or recipe books. If I had a room all to myself then maybe I’d be able to find it.

Imagine, if I had a room all to myself – oooh, the luxurious potential I could unleash in there. I could hang a hammock, to lie in while I sip my ice cold pina coladas and read a sumptuous novel or two. I’d play music that I don’t play around my toddler – loud hip hop with copious amounts of swear words, and I’d dance, throwing myself around the room like a teenager. If anyone came in I’d shout, ‘Get out of my room!’ with my face all screwed up. The walls would be covered with inspiring stuff that I’d pick up at art galleries, ripped out of newspapers, old movie tickets found in last year’s winter coat pockets, lists of dreams that I’d want to achieve and more lists of places I want to visit all over the world.

Then there would be my desk. My desk. Not a desk littered with bills to pay, half eaten bananas, clothes to repair, odds and ends like used batteries, broken toys and stacks of paper for filing. My desk would have all of my art materials, laid out like an invitation to create. It would be clean, neat, ordered and sacred. Mine. Mine. Mine.

The pull between motherhood and creativity is not a new discussion, but it is an eternally interesting conversation. How do we make time and space for ourselves to pursue our creative work when we have children without feeling guilty (‘I really should be spending time with my child’), or feeling impatient (‘I wish you’d just go to sleep so I can work on my painting’). Push, pull, push, pull.

So the idea of having a room of one’s own may be unrealistic for many of us at one time or another but let’s not let what the room represents to us be unrealistic also. It represents the permission to have time to create, unabashedly, with joy and with high hopes.

Creativity is important work, and even if your creative space is only the dining room table and a cupboard from which you pull out your art materials (like me), or your laptop or a small sketchpad, know that being creative is essential to who you are and that you must not ignore it. After all, we have a big example to set for our kids by letting them know how important it is to follow your dreams.

(P.S. I was inspired to write this post by Mique Moruichi’s post on her creative space. So, thank you Mique for the inspiration. I am eternally interested in the spaces in which all creative women make their artwork. I was also very interested to see Jenni Desmond's work space as well as the work spaces of Anna Emelia, Anna Walker, Jen Collins and Carson Ellis. If you have images of a creative space that you work in, I’d be very happy to hear from you!)


  1. Hi Jenni, my studio is where I spend most of my time and I am truly blessed to have it. I don't have a child but my feelings towards my beloved cat are pretty similar. I don't know how mothers manage as illustrators too and I admire them for it but I find sometimes I too have to make time from all the distractions required in running a life, to just sit and draw.
    Here is a link to my workspace. You will find lots of other studios there too. Enjoy :)

  2. That's great that you have a dedicated space to work in. It's true that with or without kids, the creative life has its challenges. The distractions of life do tend to get in the way sometimes even if they are cute distractions like kids or furry friends. Thanks for link, I'll go have a peek!