My Safe Place: A Creative Corner in Fredericton
Last week I had a conversation with a friend about his tattoos. Nearly ever inch of his arms are covered in ink, and when he came home with a new snake stretching the length of his hand, I asked him what it meant. “Nothing”, he said. “This one doesn’t have a meaning. It doesn’t have to.” Even though many of his tattoos represent something specific, this one, he simply just liked and believes that says enough in itself. I personally agree with him. Art doesn’t always have to hold the kind of meaning you can put into words or tie to a story or event. Sometimes, you may not even be able to articulate which part of yourself is expressed through it. But truly, the textures, light, tones, materials you are drawn to speak to the your individuality and your eye.
I can relate to Jesse’s tattoos in the way I began to build my workspace. There are some pieces that hold a story and a measure of sentimental value: the portrait a near stranger drew for me of my grandfather after he passed away, a map of Grand Lake where I spent my summers growing up, various handwritten letters, photographs of my travels and people I love, driftwood gathered from the West Coast. Those all bring me to treasured memories when I look at them. But there are also a number of objects I arranged simply because they, in themselves, inspired something in me. I always find myself in a new antique, consignment, or thrift shop when I leave the city. More often than not, I walk away with nothing, but every once in a while, something will catch my eye. Most of the time, I try to stick to objects that have some sort of utilitarian use but also inspire me creatively in their textures and colours and make. Piece by piece, over the past 8 months, I have gradually built this space into what it is…still very much a work in progress.
This is my safe place. It is a place I’ve spent many late nights working through projects and dreaming up new projects. The place that fills me with nostalgia when it snows through those large, old windows. The place where light dances on the walls in the late afternoon. The place friends have joined me over the last few months, for work parties, for heart to hearts, for picnics on the floor.
It may not look like very much to some, and that is okay. I like to think that I will always try to work with what I have, little or much, and turn four walls into a home. And I’m sure that will look different as I walk through new seasons in life.
But for now, I am twenty one, living in my first apartment, in this tiny city on the east coast, working full-time as a freelance artist, trying to capture photographs that move me, and others if I'm able. This workspace, tucked in the corner of an old brick Heritage home decorated in vines that hang over the floor to ceiling windows, has become a small kind of sanctuary. It’s a real gift to me, one I don’t intend to take for granted or keep only for myself either. If you’re in town, come stop by!
After a three month long search, I nearly gave up on my vision of having a long, narrow, solid wood work table and decided to explore the idea of having one custom built. I discovered Stewart's work through a page 16 kijiji ad. Stewart was a politician for 40 years, but following retirement, he has returned to his first love, carpentry. The wood is from his land, and two weeks after I visited their home for the first time to discuss what I had in mind, they called me to come back and pick it up. His wife, Martha, told me this table would hold me in one place for hours on end. She was right. Some days, I spend hours working away on its sturdy surface. It has already gotten its fair share of scratches and dents that make me love it even a little more. This table has been so special, too, because it has provided a space for other creative friends to come and join me in working alongside one another. I wanted this space to be for more than just myself, but before I had this work table, the best I could really offer was a spot on the floor. Needless to say, I am pretty grateful for it.
This is my inspiration wall. It's pretty self-explanatory. I've gathered some letters, writings, photographs (professional and personal) that hold some sort of significance. This wall is ever changing. I have added to it and taken pieces away over the past few months, and will continue to do so.
This portrait of my Grandfather by Emily Weaver will never leave the wall. The greatest surprise I have ever received in the mail during a time I really needed it.