An artistic beat
I realized something curiously amusing the other day while painting my most recent commission for a good friend. The commission was the view from Polzeath’s Waterfront Café out across the beach on an old style wooden bodyboard. It’s a scene I have painted often but one that I will never get bored of. In fact, there is something about painting beach scenes, and in particular the skies and the cloud formations, that is really soothing and satisfying for me. It’s as if painting skies is what releases those endorphins that other people get from meditation, eating chocolate, and exercising. The interesting thing I noticed this time was that I was tapping my foot on each stroke of my brush. Or was I doing each brush stroke in time with my tapping? Was I keeping a steady beat in time with my painting, or was my painting in time with my steady beat? I’m not sure which came first. I tried to stop but then the brush wouldn’t slide quite as smoothly or evenly, and I lost the rhythm that allowed me to paint freely. I figured that I must have always tapped my foot as it was impossible to get the same effect without the beat. The rhythm kept me in line and in sync with my painting. It was the connection between it and me.
My sister once told me of a theory she learned about while studying sports psychology; ‘the conscious processing hypothesis’. It suggests that when a performer becomes more conscious and self-aware they attempt to control skills that were previously automatic. They start to think about the basics of how to do that skill and as a consequence the performance breaks down. The fluency is disrupted and performance levels drop. I’m no scientist but perhaps I’m proving this theory correct. When I’m working to a beat for sure I’m in a semi-conscious state and my work just seems to flow more naturally. No wonder painting the sky feels a bit like meditation for me. In fact, ask my husband- it’s sometimes impossible to stir me from my hypnotic state when I paint (of course, sometimes, it is just a case of selective hearing!). Now I notice it every time I paint a skyline and it makes me chuckle to myself as it’s so natural and subconscious, like I’m outside myself looking in.
On a less scientific level it makes absolute sense to me why I do it. As a professional dancer I have always had to keep in time to a beat. Intricate movements and syncopated rhythms created the detail in my performances but always present was the constant, regular, reliable bass beat. It is this consistently-spaced beat in any performance that brings the productions together, like the end of a Milan Kundera novel. It’s what gives you that satisfying and pleasing feeling that makes it all make sense, giving it all meaning. The tap of my foot is me making a connection between what I’ve always done and my relatively new creative ventures. It reassures me, it keeps me in line and it creates my music. Try it, maybe a beat or some music would work for you too.
Getting out of the maze
It’s been a while since my last blog post so I feel the need to fill you in on what’s been going on at the Tilly Rose headquarters (and it’s not a short list!). First of all we’ve moved. Yes you’ve guessed it- we now turn that beautiful corner into our home village. Polzeath is our new home- for now at least. The fresh sea air fills my lungs every morning, the friendly faces warm my heart during the day, and the beach, my biggest inspiration, is now a constant presence- well, just a five minute walk away. Tilly Rose Designs is back where it began and it just feels right.
Any business like ours works round the clock, with many online orders coming in the evening and those from overseas coming at any time depending on the time difference. Our days are planned according to specific order deadlines; producing stock for retail, completing bespoke pieces for birthdays, making sure the bride has plenty of time to check her wedding commissions are as she’d hoped for her perfect day… Occasionally the weather can hold us back if we need the garden space to prepare some wood for a furniture piece, and of course we always have the daily post collection time in the back of our minds to make sure we get the orders out on time. Our schedule is always full, which of course is a great thing for any business, but sometimes we need to remember to rest. If the mind is full where’s the space for new ideas and creativity? The mind needs to be fed (I need to be fed). I often forget to eat. I will stop painting to feed my daughter, have a play with her and get straight back to work- deadlines to meet. How could we create more time to relax and still get the orders out on time and to the same standard? To have more time to enjoy Polzeath as a family and have the occasional day off? To have more opportunities to sit down with a cup o’ Yorkshire tea and a ginger nut to dunk? (You can take the lass out of Yorkshire but you can never take the Yorkshire out of the lass!). The answer for us was Emma.
Emma joined us in September and has been an incredible asset, not just to help us to create time but to just help us create. She brings a new, fresh mind to our business. She sees the world through a different set of eyes and in turn can offer new ideas and designs to Tilly Rose. Emma trained in Fine arts at Plymouth University, has great experience in the creative world, and most importantly, has excellent taste (after all, she does live in Polzeath).
With Emma on board we have been able to explore more retail avenues as it’s an area of our business we would really like to expand. Our current retail outlets have had a steady flow of business. It seems actually that the extreme north and extreme south of the British Isles are our most popular areas, with more orders coming in from our friends at the Salen Jetty Shop in the Scottish highlands and then new orders coming in from our new stockists in Cornwall, The Up Cycled Home Co. I wonder if this is just coincidence or if life outside the hustle and bustle of the cities, outside the maze, affords you the luxury of seeking and purchasing artwork. Maybe it is merely a difference in home décor styles and taste between the more rural areas to the cities due to the demographic of the areas. Who knows? But it will be something we continue to monitor as a matter of interest. I’ll let you know if the trend continues.
Venturing into the unknown
The next few months are a little uncertain for us. We hope that Polzeath can be our permanent home, Tilly Rose’s permanent base, but this may not be the case. As many of you will know we have experienced a tough two years with our ongoing legal battle to keep our family together in the UK. Even though I am married and have our beautiful daughter to Michael who is South African, a non-EU citizen, the new harsh immigration rules mean that we may be forced to leave the country next month. To have to uproot again is the last thing we want as we are really excited about our Tilly Rose ventures and want to continue to build our business where we feel it belongs. With that said we must try to take the positives should the decision not go in our favour. At least we can be free of this feeling of being in limbo, not knowing if we are going to be forced out of our country or not. We can make a plan and continue our journey.
For those who would like to know more about our story please feel free to visit our petition page http:/chn.ge/nueAZO or contact us directly. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far. Fingers crossed our next blog will be written from our home village of Polzeath, if not then we will be on our next adventure into the unknown.