Jamila I.

I do feel able to share my ideas this week because I’ve been clear about my overall direction of creative travel for some time now, and just a couple of weeks ago was suddenly able to narrow my focus down to one topic, with the specific intention to develop a series. Not that I’m ahead of the game - the learning to date on this CST course has already proved invaluable because it’s really helped me to develop clarity of focus and to have the courage of my convictions, which I suspect is something that many of us wrestle with.

Jane’s reference to “pursuing work that is of personal significance” really resonates with me. For a long while I’ve wanted to develop a body of work inspired by the Islamic Garden, but it took time to realise that underneath this, it is really personal space, and the related issue of public v. private space, that’s becoming more and more important to me. This is so clearly illustrated by the Islamic Garden, as a representation of Paradise on Earth and as a retreat from the rigours of the wider world.

I’ve identified 60+ (and counting!) topics related to the Islamic Garden, from references in the religious sources to representation of, for example, geometry and significant flowers; from the emotion and inspiration of the Persian poets or particular periods/people in history to the five senses to which the Garden should appeal, like coolness, shade, water, feelings of calm, and so on.

Having given myself time to write down and reflect on these options, I also needed to consider certain creative commitments for this year – our Embroiderer’s Guild branch exhibition inspired by and to be held at Oxburgh Hall, and my membership of a new Weaver’s Forum for which I’ll need an ongoing developmental project. Plus of course the creation of my own body of work. I realised how this had all come into alignment when I saw that plain coloured tiles could be the link – the worn terracotta tiles at Oxburgh Hall and the fabulous blue and turquoise tiles of Central Asia and Iran, with their associated terracottas and neutrals, were the obvious link and so will be the “hook” for an exhibition piece, an in-depth exploration of double weave and a series of pieces of stitched and woven work, for as long as I want this particular focus. Then I’ve got the other 60+ to fall back on!

I now have a work book with sections for each of these topics, where I can jot down ideas, inspiration, references etc. until I’m ready to study them in more depth. I also have a work book for each specific project, from inspiration and ideas through to design development and project resolution.

I’m fortunate that I get plenty of ideas but I’ve usually lacked the conviction and/or focus to make them happen. It came as a surprise to me that during my working life I always had lists of priorities and tasks to be done, but that’s never been the case for my creative work, even though the creative journey is now my main “work”. So, I’ve recently started a simple and achievable weekly plan and am finding that just the act of writing down what I want to achieve each week is already making a huge difference in terms of both focus and outcomes. I really hope that this learning can be as helpful to others as it has been to me!