Just a quick up date regarding the workshop.
I moved in 3 years ago which simultaneously feels like 10 years and 6 months have passed since signing the lease. In the last 4 months the building was sold and subsequently the rent is currently being negotiated. So I might be moving. I have been looking for alternate spaces but there is a dearth of reasonably priced warehouses in Sydney with light and ground floor access. I spent 18 months looking for the space I’m currently in..so with that in the foreground I may decide to move back to the shopfront at Henderson Rd. It is a significant drop in square meterage which limits the type and quantity of work I can produce but which reduces overheads and hopefully may ease some of the pressures of managing that level of output. It means the classes get put on hold for the time being but I have ideas how we can get around that..first things first, however.
I have worked from Henderson Rd for many years and if I keep everything contained to the shopfront and don’t allow ‘creep’ into my living area.. well then it could be just wonderful. I’m imagining a work station with everything at an arms reach. Its functionality similar to the interior of a round-the-world sailing yacht. Nothing out of place and everything in its place because it has a "place". I’ll be on show, after all. The shopfront becomes a performative space* in which I enact my craft with precision, efficiency and within reasonable working hours..Let’s see how everything pans out, anyways, and stay tuned for updates.
* I'm over educated.
I have been reading some great books on creativity and agency. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Seth Godins Linchpin, and watching some inspiring stuff on the ‘Tube such as “Make Good Art,” Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to University of Arts, Philadelphia students. As artists (and I’m talking to everyone , interior designers, stylists, foodies, textile creatives et al. ) we commonly believe we could do our best work if we had the resources that, say, Kelly Wearstler has at her fingertips. My eyes adore the tableauxs she creates in her client’s interiors sourcing objects in rare materials of marble, gold, lapis lazuli, and quotidian materials of plastic, vinyl, and polycarbonates. Or the resources of Jeff Koons, Or Damien Hirst.
I watched a video on youtube of a 4 year old girl going bananas in her studio in a creative trance/ frenzy creating canvas after canvas and using an absolute shit -tonne of paint in her expressionist style. Regardless of the OHS questions it posed for me I was mesmerised by the carefree abandon with which she created, however, many people had left comments such as “I/ my kid could do that too if I/she had the resources”
I believe that great things can come from working within parameters. If given the freedoms and spending power that the ultra wealthy have do you really believe you could do your best work or would you simply spend? I once was granted a studio at Artspace in Woolloomooloo for 7 months. It was enormous, I was surrounded by talented Sydney artists the likes of Ben Quilty, and Sarah Goffman, and Koji Ryui. What do you think happened given that expanse of time and space and opportunity? I got blocked and produced very little. Now-adays the parameters for writing my blog posts is 45minutes. The parameters for upholstery each day is 6hours. My painting, 2hours.
True creativity is using what you have to explore lateral thinking and alternative uses for things. The brain is a problem solving machine and is a muscle that needs to be used. The frame, the border, the box at every turn so often implored to “think outside of it “ I’m rooting for the opposite.
Henry Darger was a recluse artist and writer who created a whole world within the confines of his small flat out of trash material because he felt he couldn't draw. The result is extraordinary.
What do you think?
It’s been a year since I’ve posted anything on this blog page. A lot happened last year. It began simply enough like any other and I was motivated to blog about the projects that were coming in. I was motivated to organise the workshop and to record my own restoration projects. I had some stresses though as any small business owner does except that I wasn't managing them as well as I should have (Should is the least useful word in the lexicon of Small Business management). I didn't realise I was battling depression and exhaustion, but having come from a long line of stoics and belief in the power of persevering, I kept going. Mothers milk had extra doses of resilience in it. Rather than it getting better, as I was planning on it doing, the metaphorical mud at my feet quite quickly got deeper, thicker, until I found it really difficult to get through the day or even to get up. I was in the middle of a crisis, up shit creek without a paddle. Then I had a medical emergency. Then the phone stopped ringing as I couldn't really function or make decisions on how to answer a simple email. I still had nearly $20,000 to pay off my business loan and I could barely make rent let alone make those repayments.Then my relationship ended. I had trained myself in Getting Things Done but my overwhelm-ment got to a nauseating level and I was forced to surrender to a healing process. To be brief about all this though, and get to the moral of the story I had just been given a lesson ( a giant slap to the back of the head type lesson) on the importance of saying no. The absolute life saving value of the No word. It had been such a dirty word prior to that. It was so hard to say No! I felt like I was failing!
At 28 years and baby faced, trying to get as much work as possible to succeed I said yes to everything and anything. Yes to answering calls after hours. Yes to delivering tomorrow when that required me staying up all night to finish. Yes to working for 40 days straight. Yes to 3.30am starts. etc etc. If you are a small business owner you know that we kind of brag about these ridiculous situations we find ourselves in. I must be successful if I’m this busy. Insane behaviour = success! That formula got me into all sorts of trouble as a decade or so went past. A decade of putting other peoples needs before my own because I wanted to be seen as being a really good, nice, helpful person. Not anymore! *laughs maniacally* I have had to re-assess what it means for me to be successful. Now I feel I’m successful because I can take my siesta for how ever long I need it. I am successful because I can tell you truthfully whether I’ll be able to take on the work and how long it will take. I am successful because I did weather one hell of a shit storm of a year and so came out the other side because I asked for help. I am successful because I have beautiful, generous, loving people around me. I’m successful because my relationship had enough love in it to re-blossom. In the end (this isn’t the end) I got a healthier perspective and a healthy dose of SSRI’s into me and I managed to pay off my loan. At the heart of it upholstery is a renewal process, a stripping back to bare, often times ugly but never the less humble frame, to the truth of the matter. So this year the motto is “Serve with the spirit of the job not with the duty of the job”. The spirit of the job is loving restoration and sometimes that includes the owner as well. Job done.
Halfway there. A sneaky peek of one of the chairs I picked up from the lane near my house. The timber treatment is from Porters paints and it's called Palm Beach Black. It's popular at the mo' and for good reason. Its a sexy black. I don't think these chairs are sexy, really, but they look a shit tonne better than they did and when I've chosen the fabric for the seat cushions from this fab outdoor fabric place that I know of ( p.s this isnt advertising I genuinely likeylove these companies and will happily tell you where stuff comes from. For better or worse) they will be positively respectable. Promise. I love how this stain makes the timber look like a stick of charcoal. It's deep and evocative... for me.
It's the long weekend and I've done one. I went to the studio and chucked some paint down and did three loads of washing which are still on the line ( Boring!) yeah maybe but they are still there.. And it's been raining. So I got halfway with that also.
Listen to me people. The hardest part of any endevour is in the last 10%. This is the moral of the story. Actually that's just a fact. The moral of the story is Do not try to do that which is not natural to you because it will get rained on.
Yeah yeah I know, halfway is 50%.. The moral is the moral. We are done.
It's already (only?) 2 weeks into the year and I've been rearranging everything. The website. The workshop. The pantry. The living room. My brain. You get the picture. I'm procrastinating. I've been wanting to do new things with the business and they are new and untested and therefore worth putting off until I feel all safe and risk free... ha.
This will be the 10th year I've been in business and now (now?) I've decided to share more about me with you. Just like when the curtain was pulled back on the wizard in "The Wizard of Oz" but with more cheerfullness. In the past I've wanted to convey the idea that I'm a company ( I'm Maurer AND Strange) and for a few years there in the middle I was. I had two fantastic full time employees and a huge new workshop and a plan to dominate and control the market! But then shit happened.. shit got real... enough for me to question my MO. I was seriously under serious pressure and not sleeping at night. It was serious.
I am a one-woman show. with contacts. Simultaneously simpler and more complex! For those who know me this is probably as revealing as Jodie Foster's coming out speech at the Golden Globes.
I can get a lot done in a week and I'm excited to actually start showing you exactly what I'm up to. For the love of it. Because life's short. Because I'm inspired. In general, topics will include upholstery, furniture designs, painting, screen-printing etc. It'll all just get chucked in here because I don't know where else to put it. I'm building a website for my paintings www.jodiemaurer.com because ( because because because because because..) I am still holding onto the dream that my art career is going to take off and the curators will need to look somewhere. "Maurer & Strange" has always been about creativity and helping you to express it whether it is through fabric choice, fabric design, furniture design, or through a hands on workshop and now I'm expressing myself through blogging. How 'Of the Now' of me ! Here's to mutual inspiration.
A crappy photo, I know. But this is how attuned my eyes are to finding ugly stuff on the street. Ugly stuff that has *Potential*. Halfway down this lane is a stack of four outdoor chairs which are leaning up against a wall. I spotted them whilst dragging cedar around the block. A dog that hates walking who knew there was such a thing. The chairs are grey now and have grass shoved into the joins like they were dragged around behind a tractor for a few hours but ho ho! Just you wait! and wait you probably will because I don't know what it is about this year but sheesh I'm on fire. Gung ho. Projects galore. Don't know where to start.
This laser sharp focus on crap is a type of survival skill. The part of my brain ( that eats chairs) is always hungry but when it gets a find and can chew over all the *potentialities* of the thing then it is happy and at the end of it hopefully I literally get to eat too.
You will be hearing a lot more on the subject of potential.