As adults, it can be hard to tap into our inner creativity, we think we left that at the school gates long ago and the trials of everyday life just take over.
In a series of blogs, I’m asking some very talented artists about their creativity – where it stems from and how they use it in their artwork. This will hopefully inspire us and remind us that we all have a creative spark, no matter how deeply hidden, that we can utilise in our stagecraft or any other art for that matter.
In the first of the blog series, I spent an absorbing morning with Becky Paton in her mosaic studio and I began by asking her about the studio set up and how she works there.
“I took the studio design idea from a friend and the makers added shelves, electricity, water and insulation. I’m in it every day so it’s really important to be just right. Of course I’d love it to be bigger but I’d create more chaos and more mess! Getting enough light in the studio is an issue in winter. I use more daylight bulbs and I work longer hours in the summer, grabbing the light when I can.”
“I used to work in our box room or dining room so it’s an improvement on that! Having a studio means that I can ‘go to work’ and not clutter up the house, it helps me to leave whatever’s going on at home and come to my perfect work space.”
I commented that Becky’s studio was ‘busy’ with plastic tubs of coloured pieces of tiles and glass stacked high on every surface. Is this how she works best?
“I can cope with the chaos. I only completely tidy the studio before a really big project which also helps me to clear my mind. During a project, it can get completely chaotic in here, I suppose the studio mirrors the creative process in my head. It seems to work for me! I like to keep a good stock of tiles and have been collecting them over 20 years so that when inspiration strikes, I have what I need at hand.”
”When I start a piece of work, I get out everything I need for it and then another upcoming project will spring to mind, so I’ll get the tiles out for that too. As I work, the changes in colour happen without thinking really, I literally surprise myself! There are moments when I can’t quite work out how I did it.”
Becky’s mosaics can be widely seen in hospitals in and around Oxford so I asked her how this came about.
“I was a registered nurse for three years before returning to my first love, studying Public Art and Design at Chelsea School of Art. The work I do with hospitals combines these two passions. I feel really comfortable in a hospital setting and I see amazing things happen when the patients get involved in the mosaic. It can take a while for them to come up with the ideas but when they start there’s no stopping them.
“The cancer ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital has mosaic fish swimming up and down the corridor, the teenager’s ward has the solar system and big abstract flowers – all made by the patients and their families. I’m proud that the mosaics de-stress the space, taking the clinical edge off and making it a fun, sparkly, nicer place.”
I asked Becky what she’s working on at moment.
“Recently I’ve become obsessed with Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times journalist who was murdered in Syria in 2012. I’m working with broken car windows, one of my absolute favourite materials right now. Not only is it free and recycled, it comes in the most beautiful shapes and colours with glorious light reflective properties. I get my dustpan and brush out to sweep up the little piles you see at the side of the road! It feels very fitting for a portrait of Marie Colvin, who spent her time reporting on the bullets and bombs and broken car windows of war zones.”
Finally, we touched on what Becky couldn’t be without in the studio.
“Music and the best vacuum cleaner money can buy! I go through phases with music, there’s often David Bowie, Radiohead, Turin Brakes and I’m enjoying some classical tunes lately. I tend to listen to one album over and over again – for some pieces of work only one album or one band will do.
“Over the years I’ve learnt that I can’t scrimp on a good vacuum cleaner. I hoover about twice a day so it has to up to the task!”
You can find out more about Becky Paton on her website www.beckymosaics.co.uk and see her amazing mosaic work on Instagram @beckypatonmosaics.
If you’d like to discover your inner creative spark as part of a fun, pressure-free singing and acting group in Oxford, take a look at www.openstagearts.co.uk