creative companions: inna turchik

who are creative companions?
come join us

'me on her'

at the end of december a card came in the post. a print of a cherry tree in bloom growing atop a whimsical creature. ephemeral and calming in palette. romantic and endearing in scene. a kind of creation that uninhibited imagination would conjure up. on reverse she wrote neatly in black ink that i inspired her to 'be a big dreamer, never stop being creative and also sometimes just stop and admire small things’. i smiled. grinned even. because that is exactly what she inspires me to be and do. and none more so than when she herself feels uninspired. she starts up conversations of raw, vulnerable and honest kind. she is hard on herself seeking, yet gentle on those seeking alongside her. we have not yet met in real life. i hope one day our paths do cross. till then, her card is safely tucked into my notebook, one i scribble in when i want to understand what it is that i am feeling. quietly inspiring me between the pages to seek and create

it may sound nonsense, but i create in order to destroy. i want to destroy that hard shell around true me that i have made through the years

'on what creative living means to her'

i can’t recall a day when i wasn’t creating. for me living on this earth in the first place is creating. it doesn’t really matter if this is something huge or small. the feeling of something that was born in your imagination appearing in real life and becoming tangible is giving me the energy. i never think too long before plunging into a new project or new ideas - if my hearts starts feeling faster when I think about it - i go for it

when I was a kid i used to do all kind of things - as mostly all kids do. i was growing older and even being a teenager i didn’t feel myself without making. i was embroidering, knitting as my mom taught me, writing poetry, prose, painting and designing clothes. i have a very good friend and we always were spending summer days at the huge balcony in her house. it was our sanctuary and all the craziest ideas came out of that place. we hid from the whole world and let our imagination work. i once created a big piece of poetry about my classmates. i wrote some words about them i loved all of them sincerely. they read it and they made me read it aloud, how embarrassing it might sound. then the teachers heard about it and i had to make copies of that notebook on xerox machine so they gave it to other teachers and so on. it was a piece of funny, sincere and wholehearted poetry that i am afraid i might not be able to write again. such things can’t be repeated

that how i imagine my creative living - making something for myself in the first place but then it will help people, make them happier and more fulfilled. there was a period in my life when i was studying in university and i had to work, no time left for creativity. that were the hardest times for me. i didn’t feel alive and whole without making, so at the end of my studies i started photographing everything with my phone. i didn’t have instagram yet and i didn’t know anything about photography, but there was some inner desire to show people how i see this world, how it is reflected in my eyes

at this moment i am in a constant search for myself. it feels like creative living now is creating myself. trying all kinds of arts, fitting different crafts on myself, looking for things that would fit my image of the world and also help other people. creating vehemently, self-obliviously, disconcertingly - until i find the thing that would feel absolutely 'mine'

'on why she creates'

for a very long time i was thinking that i am creating because it can somehow change the world. now i also believe this but from the other perspective. i do it because it helps me to change. when i create i grow. when i grow i can help other to do the same. i do it to break the walls that i once built for myself and hid behind them. i do it to show myself that i don’t need to follow the ridiculous rules that i made for myself alone. i do it in order to tackle that terrible self-doubt and some distorted image of how i should be and what i am supposed to achieve. it may sound nonsense, but i create in order to destroy. i want to destroy that hard shell around true me that i
have made through the years. and if i fail in my creativity - that is even better. because it will show me that being perfect is okay. being light-hearted and not always so responsible is fine. being a human and not an illusion of a perfect daughter, wife and sister is absolutely great

'on how she feels when creating'

it has been one of the most powerful emotions - the feeling of butterflies in my tummy that lasts since the moments when ideas comes into my head until i start making it. i think i have it from my father. when he has an idea he just can’t wait. he goes all in. spends money, time and energy and he loves it

the same with me. when i want to do something it’s so hard to wait. i need to go buy materials for my sewing, or write a poem right in the middle of a workout - no matter where i am - there is no such thing as patience when it comes to creating

the same with photos. when i have an idea i want to do it right away. it’s a pain sometimes because in photography there should be a combination of many things to make it work - light, time and circumstances. one day i did a stupid thing while being on a work trip. i so desperately wanted to take a photo with a mirror in a hotel (it was a really nice vintage one) that i took it from the bathroom into a room. i took a photo, it was nice, but i dropped the mirror after that. sometimes i have to pay for my impatience and creative rush

the main thing in my creativing is not a result, it’s the process. it is the moment when i do it that gives me most satisfaction and energy. i tend to get lost and the outer world can’t reach me at those moments. for example when i am working on some new piece of sewing i forget that i have to do work around the house, i have to go eat and stuff like that. i know this is not always right but i just can’t stop. it makes me feel so alive

'on her earliest memories of creating'


my family is not working as creatives but they are certainly very talented and creative people. my mom was knitting beautiful sweaters at the time when there was barely anything for sale in ukraine at the beginning of 90ies. she was looking for some foreign knitting magazines and doing brave designs that other people would never think about. my dad does everything by his hand. he can build a city by himself. they taught me that anything can be done by your own hand and mind if you really want it

but some of the earliest memories of some crazy creativity was me embroidering. i loved cross-stitch so much that i spend all my summer holidays doing it. i had a blanket and pillow that i took outside the house; i was sitting in the cherry garden and embroidering for many hours in a row. my grandma showed me some basic stitches and i made a piece by piece. they are still hanging on the wall in my parents’ house. those summer days were the best - a nice shadow of a cherry tree, a cup of tea and i am sitting there all covered in tangled threads, trying to finish the piece of embroidery until my parents come back from work so i might show it to them and they will smile

'on what inspires her'

my biggest inspiration is people who are not afraid to go against the stream. i have always been lacking courage and do something that might not seem right. strangely may it sound but i am inspired by rebels - people who do things that society would expect them to do. people, who drop their jobs to create their own small business, people who don’t get discouraged when they fail. i look at them and they give me strength, because they are living, they don’t waste their time. even if they fail, they tried - and it takes up some guts to do it

and my other source of inspiration is nature. i grew up in a small town, lived in a big house near the forest, lake and we had a big garden. it was very simple life, with a lot of work outside, helping around the garden, having dirty nails and heels, running barefoot in the morning and touching the grass wet from dew. me and my brother spend all the free time outside, so now i try all my best to get the most from the nature which surrounds me here, in a big city i live in now. my heart is longing for a backyard with trees and grass, and most of my ideas come when i go for a walk in the field or in the forest

nature is simple, and at the same time very mysterious. all the plants, insects, animals live in harmony. yes, the world of nature is also not very perfect but at least you can see how all parts of it fit together, i love seeing the change of seasons, contemplating on it. i love the change in how the air smell in all different parts of the year. i am totally a countryside person and hope soon enough i would be able to spend more time outside of the city

'on what creating taught her about herself'

i have learnt that i can do much more than i expect. people started saying me many things that i can never believed - that i am talented, that my work helps them. i learned that i am much more worth that i thought. and i am still struggling with these self-worth issues, but with creating it’s becoming easier. diminishing my value was a normal thing for me. with opening up to people and showing my work i learned that i have been way too harsh on myself. accepting the fact that i matter was the biggest thing for me

i am undergoing a very interesting and at the same time vulnerable period in my life. the struggle between old me that is afraid and new me who want to be brave and making a leap. when i don’t know what to do - i create. even if it not something great, i just do it for myself. i paint, i write, i photograph. it’s me first who needs this to move forward. and at the same time creating gives me a chance to slow down and feel

sometimes i think what is my WHY - what is the purpose. and i came up with an answer that the purpose should not be huge. it can be as simple as that. because creating is ME. the same as i have brown hair and green eyes, i can’t live without being a maker and creator, and it doesn’t matter what exactly i create, but as long as it is not harmful for me and the world - it is my way of saying - i love this life and this world. saying every day, each minute and hearing as the world says it back

'on how she lets herself know she is loved by her'

it’s interesting, because i chose 'balance' as my word for 2018. but it’s been three months since then and  haven’t thought thoroughly about how i can make my life more balanced. one of the areas that definitely need some 'balancing' is my online/offline life. i try to limit my time on web, because it’s eating up all my free time and i have not so much of it at the moment. when i feel overwhelmed (and it happened often recently) i just go for a walk with my dog. i don’t bring my phone with me. other way is to go for a run outside

walking with a dog requires my attention because i have to look after him and play with him, so i forget about all other things. when i go for a run, my body feels so good and mind has some time to rest and become clearer. i often forget that first of all i have to be kind to myself and only then hear this from other people. and in most cases its other people, like you, who remind me about that. being in the loving community, talking to people and taking some downtime give me that valuable balance

'on three things that are part of her everyday'

  • my black notebook: i love paper more than any other objects. i have so many notebooks but this is the first one that i use every day for my notes. it is made in ukraine by one very talented brand and it’s simple and practical, but at the same time very beautiful. i love writing in it in the morning - what i am grateful for, what do i feel, some poetry. i always carry it with me in a backpack, and soon the clear pages will be over. i am glad that the inner part can be replaced and i will start it all over again. journaling is one of the habits that i want to build and do it consistently - writing had a very good effect on me - calming down emotions, bringing mindfulness, clarity of mind and sticking the stickers is so much fun
  • my vintage coffee grinder: i was strolling along the flea market on a sunny summer day and i have seen it - a perfect old and rusty outside, but new and working inside, this austrian coffee grinder. every morning i put the handful of coffee beans in it and turn the handle. it produces the most ridiculous loud sound - scratchy and old, but it’s like a music to my ears. it wakes me up better than coffee itself and all my neighbors probably feel the effect too. i like freshly ground coffee with a hint of nutmeg, cinnamon stick and sometimes even ginger. my hand-made mug serves well for slow sipping and hand warming. one of the quietest times of the day
  • old table: when we moved into this rent apartment, there was only one piece of furniture in a room - big old table. its legs were shaky and it was full of pots with some dead house plants. my husband fixed the legs and now i can't imagine my days without it. it’s a place for my work and dreaminess. i move it almost every day, and we moved it to different rooms at least four times. it’s not an expensive table and it’s falling apart but so many projects were done thanks to it. i love when it’s clean - there is so much space on it. when i have a clean table and only pen and paper - inspiration is visiting me more often because it knows that i have space for it. i know that when one day we will move to our own space we would have to leave this old table here. and i already feel nostalgic about it

'on how hearing a song she listened to when she was thirteen makes her feel now'

first, 'the nostalgia machine' just sucked me in. i already created a queue of songs and i will be listening to them all day long. second, my choice felt on a song 'you and me' by lifehouse. that was a legendary band when i was a teenager and my romantic soul responded to all their sweet lyrics and guitar melodies 

the words that struck me today were:
everything she does is beautiful
everything she does is right

how much I want that 'everything i do will be right', but of course you never know what exactly is the right choice. the only way is to stick to the first line and strive to do everything in my life in a beautiful way

thank you so very much for joining us
you can see more of inna's work and words on her blog and instagram 








creative companions: laura lereveur

who are creative companions?
come join us

'me on her'

she elevates the everyday into an art form
a form fragile exquisite personal etherial intricate timeless
it nourishes, enlivens and romances
she gathers and gives soul to imaginings
imaginings so elegant peculiar unique delicate sensitive
they captivate, delight and puzzle
much like alice in wonderland she has an enchantingly curious world of her own
and i am so truly glad to have 'virtually' stumbled upon it
and more so to have a chance to lure you in
make some tea and tumble in


'on why she became an artist'

quite simply, i can't do anything else without being ill most of my adult life has been spent in education - i went from school to university for an undergraduate degree, had a little time away before going back for a postgraduate degree – but i've had some jobs. i worked in retail for a few years. i was so excited. it was a new department store in the city, and i thought it was going to be a postmodern au bonheurs des dames. except i hadn’t read it. at first, it was all i knew of the book – the independent, glittering, fast-paced marvel of newness and sophistication. i wore smart black clothes, flawless hosiery, and only stopped to touch up my lipstick. at some point reality set in – when i was more shop-girl-remembering-being-an-artist than artist-being-a-shop-girl-to-afford-art-things. i didn’t know that disillusioned page was in the book

my spare time was spent soaking toes in warm salt water, eating, taking off my makeup and repairing my nail enamel. the creativity they ‘encouraged’ was accompanied by rules in a luminous plastic bundle of files thicker than my immaculate hand was wide. i longed to tear birds out of expensive silk handkerchiefs and throw them over the escalators. instead i folded small butterflies from till roll and hid them when my superiors passed. i'd long prided myself on how i valued the small things; the poetry i found in small moments, the art of the overlooked. i still read carco on the train and listened to my cult of poets with guitars and bought discounted bukowski and cohen paperbacks in the bookshop i passed every day. i kept trying. i'd built an art practice based on the everyday and an academic critique in the quotidian and after all, this was the real mundane. this was the drudge that could scuff up poems if i was in a film or a rock song. but the butterflies made of thin, shiny paper looked pathetic in bins of gum wrappers and makeup stained tissues. there was nothing there. it wore me away

how honest can I be? it wasn't just wearing – i could have handled wearing, i think. would like to think so, anyway. it was suffocating me. i was already being treated for depression. i kept whiskey in my locker. i had a breakdown

i don't like this about myself – the intolerance. i'm envious to the point of infuriated thinking that there are people who can do work between set times and have full lives and healthy minds. it just makes me crazy. for a while i lectured - being in the art studio and talking about art was a hell of a lot better than being a shop girl, but i still had the restless need to go into the quiet corners and create. so there was only one thing to do

i've a terrible, hard-earned intransigence. i must decide what i do and with whom and plans or obligations are a cage. sometimes that doesn’t matter – i will grit my teeth and do what my few loved ones need. but when it involves my daily life...i'm desperate for freedom and the impulsive whim of soul. perhaps it’s because i was very responsible, very young. perhaps it’s because losing myself was the ultimate freedom (despite being horrific) and i can't entirely give up the unapologetic, reckless, nomadic thing in me that was allowed and liberated now that i've a healthy way to feel it. perhaps it began because i found life can change on a breath, so was ever keen to escape in any way i could. only, making a life that stops me feeling trapped means i now have no desire to leave it. none at all. i wander instead – in making my own decisions, in trusting my imagination, in creating my days and nights as surely as i create objects of art

there's a more practical side too. those restless years where my body bore my mind left me with an illness. it was almost as though my bones said, your mind is fixed, you're safe now. and finally collapsed. utterly unpredictable, it means i can't be depended upon or subject to the clocks of others. this way i have a purpose. some independence. i have work and value and passion and i can have it at three am or leave it alone for three days. i don't have to wear clothes and my hair can be wild and filthy. i can have freedom when in other ways, it's taken away

'on how creating makes her feel'

creating makes me feel immortal. people near me tease i’m a vampire. i have the trappings of the myth – a pale night dweller with antiquated ways. but i am evading my mortality. art has unanimously been an attempt to last, to exist beyond the life of the maker – from enigmatic, ochre absences of hands on cave walls to mocking glasses left on a bench by a visitor to a modern art show. whatever else it’s attempted – the stuff we get wonderfully tangled in, in books and thoughts and searching – they all have that in common. even work made to disappear; mark quinn’s blood self portrait comes to mind, or néle azevedo‘s sculptures of men who melt in the sunlight. like the hands and glasses, the vampiric instances are both the presence of absence. yes, i’m a vampire. i take my most base sustenance (in my case, soul?) to sustain my life and preserve this for as long as will be

of course, i will die. i read once, when everything was wrong: ‘i will make everything around me beautiful and that will be my life’. i have created that life and i have a voice i fought for without dreaming it could be found. if i can do my most to have created something beautiful by whatever time i sleep – an object, an act of love, a poem, an exchange, something – one day my ghost can have one less reason to want for time

'on her memories of creating' 

i chose this and i had no choice. which came first? do we learn to live something or is it built in? is it both? i think of art teachers in school, their lessons and guidance. and of how i loved art despite them. i spent lunch hours in the art rooms because they sat in one, wanting no company, and i sat in another, wanting my own. instead i learned from the photocopied black and white faces watching time from the walls. monet. picasso. van gogh (all men, but that never occurred to me: they were artists, and that bridged gaps of death and time, let alone gender). i take it for granted that creative people have always done what they’ve done, so i'll not bore you with the ‘since i could hold a pencil’ stories. instead i'll tell you tales of memorable occasions

first camera, age 5
we'd moved from mountains to coast and it was the hardest part of my young life. quiet and pale, fonder of reading than playing, making friends was never easy. it was fuji, black, quite big from my tiny hands, and i learned to wind the film from papa. click, thunk, wind wind wind became my soundtrack. and they developed bags of films spent feverishly on fascinating nothings. everything loomed. nothing focused. i adored that camera

sewing, age 6
emergency surgery on the kitchen table, on a bed made from a cracker box wrapped in a napkin. i was second surgeon to grandma. the future of fred bear's leg depended upon us

first formal paints, age 9
my uncle by affection not blood was an artist. (he exhibited at the tate, and once with chagall. but then he got ill and his life fell apart, so he went to japan. he immersed himself in the tao and life, and they endowed him as a roshi.) one day long after he’d come back and started painting again, i was wandering around his gallery's shop. he sold art supplies (and new age things for the tourists). i recall heavy rain and being cold. i was at a glass case where he kept the best supplies, including boxed watercolours; they were so delicious they made me physically hungry, almost like exotic sweets in their neat rectangles. then he was there, handing me an intricate web of coloured threads laced with feathers. he told me he'd made it for me, for my bad dreams, and told me about a mix of things – spirits called baku, people called obijwe, the sixties and things much older. i don't know how he knew about the bad dreams, but he did, and he opened the glass case to take out the prettiest palette of paints - the one with the most jewel-like sweets. it had a tiny
pewter paintbrush that came apart to be both a brush and case. with a pointed look in a weathered face he told me i had art in my soul; something not many had, my built-in dreamcatcher. that until i understood, i should hang the one he made above my bed. it took me many years to understand what he meant, but he was right

possessing art, age 19
i started to collect work from my colleagues and friends in art school. i gathered souvenirs from travels in prints and drawings, watercolours and sculptures. i soon had days around me, but they were tangible objects. i remember a conversation about bees at the potting wheel one evening; it’s now my fruit bowl. i remember one of those rare, truly peaceful moments when life aligns, and everything is just as it’s meant to be; it’s now a crooked model vespa in my bookcase

drawing, age 23
it was a leaf i rescued from the cigarette-strewn floor of the hospital courtyard. my hands shook for new medications and the loss of drink, so i held the pencil tighter and concentrated harder. there was too much happening to say my mind eased. nothing was easier, nothing got lighter, air didn’t rush to my lungs. but i felt. that was enough. i started doing creative things again. i was given day leave to go to an art shop with papa for supplies. there was something in me after that; in retrospect, i think of bukowski. ‘if you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose’

being art, various ages
i was first drawn by my mama’s friend while i was sweeping the driveway. next by my art teacher. (she told me my face was wrong, by every rule.) then when i was older lots of instances came in rapid succession. i have been a muse and a subject. i have known writers and been in stories and poems. i have known sculptors and been clay, metal, and plaster. i have known musicians, to become melodies and lyrics. i have known painters and draughtsmen, all of whom were frustrated not to get me right. i have been a spoken poem and a blank space on a canvas because i wouldn’t undress. i have been a film and photographs. i have never been worthy of the fascination or the intent, but the litany is a document of beauty; it’s a blessing to be in this world driven by feeling and curiosity

'on her workspace'


my workspace is our home. usually. sometimes it’s the homestead, sometimes it’s where we go on holiday. i have a set of four drawers with a handle that holds the things i use every day. in the bookcase i've pots of pins (dressmaker, steel, split, drawing), small tins of my favourite paints, an enamel jug of brushes, an ever-pungent brass tin of enamels, my needles in a pepper cellar (the needle felting ones hook efficiently in the lid) and invariably, scraps of sewing and half-made oddities set away from curious paws. in linen bags i keep glue, bells, bits of lace, hooks, screws, hinges, jewellery findings, all of which have found use in creatures. then hung around me are inspirations. places, times, feelings. there’s a print from florence i’ve made an object of on an old canvas stretcher, framed silhouette portraits of my cats, a watercolour from rome, a woodblock print i bought from a frozen-fingered artist on charles bridge. polaroids, scraps of textures and beautiful tones, my books. my sewing basket of fabrics and homemade spools of ribbons, strings and trimmings. i sit on a chaise between a radiator and a stove, next to a very large window and with a pile of cushions and blankets. before i moved in, he gave me a beautiful tray on a standing table so i had somewhere to make things when i stayed. even now that we've a home together and my things are spread everywhere (everywhere), i sit my tray on my knees every day. sometimes i take it to bed. this is my happy place. everything i need and want, i know from this corner.

'on how she lets herself know she is loved by her'

[i don't.] i make myself tea. i try to be kind when i realise i’m thinking mean things; how i'm not what i once was or how i’m wasting my youth. i try not to get angry with my body. that’s not always a success. i try to treat myself with compassion. i’m still learning that. the kindest thing i do for myself is to think. do i need to accept this? or do i need to resist this, and push myself? what do i need right now outside of the bullshit i tell myself is necessary? and then i make myself tea. i don’t often have the right answers to my questions, but trying to stand back from the moment i find myself in to ask them is important

'on three things that are part of her everyday'

things that are truly part of every single day, whatever kind: telephone, kettle, medication. they’re not things i’m inspired to represent. instead: three I’ve used today and use most days

  • my journal: i’ve always tried to keep a journal, and always failed. the only ones i managed were for assessments and they never felt entirely natural. i’d usually go back and rip out the first pages for being overworked, stilted, plain embarrassing. i came across this way of journaling a year or so ago. it’s perfect. this one was a timely gift, just as my last finished. it holds everything of my days – to do lists; my reading list; notes; an envelope for recipes; drawings, collages and clippings; photographs; research; quotes and song lyrics; notes he leaves on the door. it’s fluid and easy. i begin over my morning teacups, keep it open and ever scribbled in throughout the day, and at the end tidy up whatever remains. i look back each week. i collect what i most enjoyed at the end of the month. it keeps me thinking of the ways to be content, and the things that take contentment away
  • my drawers: of the wooden kind. they hold the things i use every day, organised to tools, fixings, implements and miscellaneous (which is usually clay). i try to sort them each month because things will inevitably have gathered, what with my magpie ways. there are some things that are more than functional. my pliers were my grandma’s. she used them in munitions during the war, and later, working in electricals. i use them most days in my work
  • my glasses: they’re old now. they were cheap to begin with, so now the screws are loose, the plastic peels, and there are many scratches on the lenses from pockets and curious claws. i’ve magnifying glasses for particularly fine work, or for when my eyes are bad and i try to defy them by doing something particularly detailed, and a magnifying monocle. but these are the usual, everyday things. i like to think of what they’ve seen. i like to pretend all the places they’ve been and wonders they’ve helped me see still live in their tortoiseshell plastic, somewhere. that when i put them on, i’m looking through all of it and nothing is lost, no longer to be seen

'on how hearing a song she listened to when she was thirteen makes her feel now'

a year to end
the era of sullen self-expression and reckless youth
only in retrospect
a leather and denim zeitgeist i missed the first time around
[how strange -]
i flicker in time like a seeking radio
sighing static
they said i was like an actress, you’ll know her
everyone does
my eyes
[‘with wild eyes that had seen freedom’]
it all had a romance that was more romantic for being a lie
but those days, I thought love was destruction
so it makes sense romance was deception
panic’s rush of blood –
dilation, not wide eyed beauty
bitter smelling, not the fragrant iris
when everything feels like the movies
yeah, you bleed just to know you're alive

it was the making of me
everything i know about creation comes from then
[i counted wrong. this is redundant]

find more of laura's enchanting imaginings and creatures here

creative companions: victoria i.

who are creative companions?
come join us

'me on her'

29 june 2017. the day i first came across victoria's world of palette and light. i remember because we both posted a wooden hand manikin clutching some blooms on instagram that day. hers etched with elegant botanicals. mine plain wooden. i scrolled through her squares absorbed in feelings. we later got to know each other closer as part of a nourishing instagram group. and still her art, photography and words make me feel things i felt on that day last june. a sort of nordic melancholy of an overcast day warmed through by a scolding mug of perfectly brewed tea. a sort of blue grey nostalgia wrapping you gently up and holding you till you are ready to step back into the present. a sort of calm that snow silence brings with grey light curling in. a sort of moment of calm and introspection that is not there without a prompt by her creativity. i hope you feel something too when you meet her

i forget briefly what’s around me other than creating my thoughts into a picture

'on why she draws'

in a short version, because i can't stop, it's part of me these days that is beyond any thought and control that i have. i was never consciously aware of why i did what i did and loved it so much, it was just something i always had an underlying passion for but as i’ve encouraged myself to explore more into my creativity i’ve discovered how wonderful it is when others get something out of my art too and the feelings of escapism and peace that i get from each piece draw/paint/photograph is encouragement enough for me to continue on this path. it’s something i would do regardless but through social media i’ve discovered a fabulous community of people who get it too and that encourages me daily to continue on my creative journey 

'on how she feels when she draws'

it’s pure escapism
it’s a feeling of self
drawing/painting without a direct plan and putting pen to paper/paint to canvas is such a meditative state that i forget briefly what’s around me other than creating my thoughts into a picture. unless of course my mojo has vanished and i’m forcing myself to create something, then i can feel quite frustrated and i’m learning nowadays to step away and leave it a while until it returns. ebb & flow!

'on her earliest memory of drawing'

looking back i was always drawing and writing stories as a child. i remember watching tony hart and being so envious of his talents and dreaming of being as skilled as him one day. i would always be creating and copying things down in sketchbooks. i wish i had kept them, i have very little these days from my childhood but they’d be wonderful to look back on! drawing was never a conscious thing, it was just something i did and looking back i see my creative journey coming full circle. i now love writing nearly as much as i do drawing, although art will always be my ‘thing’

'on her creative workspace'

my little studio is my haven. it’s recently just been re painted and is looking very fresh & clean!
a small room in my home with an old pine table in one corner and an easel in the other. on a sunny day the sun shines straight through the window onto the wall next to me, i’m forever distracted by the light and shadows! one day i dream of a studio in amongst the trees where i can escape, but also help others through art. that’s the dream!

'on collaboration'

her illustration of my poem - 'on self to be'

i catch a glimpse
of self to be
at some point
in the future
with edges unrefined
an out of focus
kind of vision
desired specifics
evolved reshaped
by life
dare i say
relative wisdom
but with the strength
of comfort it affords
i realise regardless
of it’s permutations
the reassurance
of it’s presence
it anchors me
in present
on to be self drawing IG.JPG

'on how she lets herself know she is loved by her'

i'm still learning to be kind to myself but i’m far more aware of the signs these days and i’m learning to face them head on rather than bury them deep because they will always rear their ugly heads again when i least expect it! i find writing helps me massively. writing without the fear that it’ll be read, getting it all out on paper but mostly i need time alone to recharge. time out in nature is guaranteed to bring me back into what’s important and what’s true. if i can't get out then i head to my studio. i’ll draw or paint, listening to my instinct and switching off from the busy thoughts in my head by drawing, which is always nature. i guess the short version of this answer would be nature. i use nature as a way to reset the balance that sometimes is lost in a busy life. i’m learning finally that kindness to myself can be as simple as a walk in the woods. an hour quiet to draw or a cup of tea listening to birdsong on a morning. i must do this more often!


'on three things that are part of her everyday'

  • the camera. a new gift to myself. less intimidating than the big beast i’d been previously using and comes with me often just incase the lights pretty and i can record a moment forever
  • tea. my day revolves around it but always starts with coffee. proper coffee with maple syrup. i could probably record my day in hot drinks, from start to finish
  • my sketchbook. i hope to fill it full of experiments with colour and sketches of things that inspire me and trees. i’m forever sketching trees!

'on how hearing a song she listened to when she was thirteen makes her feel now'

it's bon jovi 'always'. i am transported instantly back to a place where i feel safe. i feel a warm sense of self at this age, which i suppose is rare for 13 years olds but it puts me instantly at ease. i forget all for an instant and remember a song that i instantly connected to and that made me feel something. as the song goes on i feel brief moments of sadness as it wasn’t many years after that that i felt the need to change who i was to fit in and due to my life circumstances changing i looked for that sense of feeling something elsewhere. my overall feeling though is one of happiness, a brief time in my life that i remember fondly and always will

thank you so very much for joining us
you can see more of victoria's work and words here 


creative companions: genevieve dutton

who are creative companions?
come join us

'me on her'

we met for the first time just a few weeks ago. after a year of mutual nourishment on instagram. the real life gen was much like the one of my virtual impressions. only even more nourishing. melancholic and uplifting. self-deprecating and genuine. gently aglow with creative energy. i wanted to stay near her. warm up, share, ponder, absorb. broken and patched up in the past, she is slowly letting her unique light shine through the cracks. setting her on a radiant path of new creative beginnings. how serendipitous it was to meet gen offline at the start of such heartwarming metamorphosis 

too much and too little is what i fear being constantly

'in her own words'

my story is that i was born in the summer of 1978 on my dad’s birthday. and that i’m a twin. my twin is nearly a foot taller than me. and has an ace of a job with the bbc. he’s one of my favourite people on this planet. so are my two boys and my husband. i haven’t found motherhood easy. people always say they are impressed by my honesty around it (and around my mental health). i sometimes wonder if honesty is a code for ‘too much’. too much and too little is what i fear being constantly. i’m working on that. to be more me. frightening to realise how often we hide not just the bad but the good too

i say i’m an introvert. i need to be alone a lot. i find parties really difficult. even at 6 years old i tried to run away from them. i need early nights and day time adventures. i need order and to walk and a quiet home and books and tea and hot baths. i don’t drink much. people might wonder how on earth the person i’ve described loves london. but i do. there is always something to explore. something new to find. and i do feel safer being amongst a busy city. i am sure statistics would disagree but statistics and feelings don’t need to match. what a lot of ‘i’s’ and a few non sequiturs. i hope i haven’t lost you with them

from berkshire to illinois to somerset to leicester to nottingham to cambridge to london. via schools and psychiatric units and university and jobs and stay-at-home childcare and so life goes. and here i am. turning 40 this year. and feeling like there is a lot of good ahead

'on creative living and feelings' 

making things is when i feel most like me. it is when i am simultaneousy absorbed and present and content. i’m struggling to get close to that feeling as i type but i remember some very clear instances:- knitting squares aged 7 (to be made in to blankets and sent to a charity) and feeling fully content; making paper aged 11 after a visit to a paper mill and wanting with everything in me to be a craftsperson; a day spent learning log-cabin quilting aged 13 and feeling woken up in some way; endless designs for cards in my teenage years/early twenties. lately textiles - weaving and dyeing and sewing - but playing more than worrying about a finished product - is where my attention sits. and I have endless ideas that i scribble down in notebooks to try out once my abilities catch up with my thoughts

i don’t have a fine art degree or even an a level and i was never any good at the things that got measured in art classes and deemed ‘talent’ (ie realistic drawing) so i never thought i had any skill that could be used for anything meaningful. i realise how flawed that point of view is now. what a shame that we bury the things that feel so good because they don’t fit known value/measuring systems

'on how she lets herself know she is loved by her'


the truth is i’m working on that. i have never given any thought to loving myself until very recently. i’ve had a ricocheting and restricting mental health since i was 14. it has made me feel defective and not good enough and the idea that that is all that i am has been limiting. but 18 months ago, after a breakdown, i finally found my way to some of the best help that i think i could have found and so here i am, working through lifelong, learnt, unhelpful patterns and feeling that big, genuine, lasting change is possible. schema therapy is enabling that and has been a priority for over a year now. it’s an integrative therapy combining cbt, attachment theory and gestalt therapy and was developed because it was noticed that people with personality disorders and chronic disorders often relapsed even after having been through other therapies multiple times. to be honest i feel pretty damn privileged to have found it

otherwise i walk. i walked my way through so many difficult feelings as a teenager and all through my twenties and on in to motherhood. it can be pounding the london streets where i live or walking in the nearby woods or climbing a (small) mountain. it allows me time to think and plan and dream and feel and specifically to access more positive emotions. yoga and meditation help too but i am not very good at maintaining a regular practise of either

i use instagram too as a creative prompt and record. and for connection. i try to pull myself up when the balance of real life/virtual connection is getting skewed but the kindness and understanding and inspiration found there is such a pull. i started my table series by mistake really - i’d admired shots from above for a while, the sense of looking at something from an unusual perspective - and i took a photo one day and enjoyed it (although it felt a bit self-indulgent and self-conscious at first as i wasn’t used to setting up photos, especially with me in them). but others gave me positive feedback and so i carried on. sometimes the moments are quite mundane but often they include something fitting with the season or with my emotions or include something i am making. i like them together as a record. i am at home a lot (i’ve been looking after my two boys who are now at school full time) and i’m exploring what to do next and i do a lot of that at the kitchen table so it sits alongside those explorations

i am also fascinated by the idea of the kitchen table as a facilitator. a place where meals are shared, arguments had, sorrows expressed, tears let go of, laughter shared. a place where friends might sit and talk or families gather silently. a place where things are made, drawn, mended, read, learnt, birthday candles blown out, tea spilt, clean washing, so much life, played out

'on three things that are part of her everyday'

tea, books and knitwear, in no particular order

  • tea is my crutch and comfort and if it comes in a nice mug so much the better. we’re talking builder’s tea; i’m not anti herbal tea it just isn’t as consoling
  • i read as much as I can - these are the four i currently have on my bedside table. i always read before i sleep and I love stories that play with language. i will never read enough of jeanette winterson or toni morrison or david mitchell. they surprise me with something every time
  • and knitwear, specifically oversized jumpers. i think I like them because they make me feel smaller (i’m only 5ft2 anyway) which i know probably sounds a weird thing to enjoy. but i do. i live in big tops and jeans pretty much. and I like it

'on how hearing a song she listened to when she was thirteen makes her feel now'

that year was 1991 and i ended up listening to several - each one somehow led to another...but i’ll tell you about what i felt when i listened to 'the wind of change' by scorpions. it’s the autumn and i’ve not long been at my new school. a boarding school. it’s sunday afternoons with a knot in my stomach waiting to start the journey back to school, it’s sunday evenings taping things off the top 40 show before the dj starts speaking over the track, it’s damp kilts in the assembly hall on a monday morning and scooping washing powder in to a top loading washing machine to wash said fusty uniform, it’s homesickness and looking out for the post to arrive and early morning phone calls on the pay phone under the stairs to my parents, it’s the sense of independence and growing up but feeling so small still, it’s a friend making me a mix tape, it’s wanting to hold that girl that i was. but i can hold her in my head now

thank you so very much for joining us


creative companions: anna fedorova

who are creative companions?
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'me on her'

i remember the evening we first met so very clearly. august 2010. moscow. surrounded by plumes of smoke coming from the peat bog fires sweeping across russia, we instantly wanted to be each other as we later discovered. she was everything i longed to be. charismatic and beauteous. sassy and intellectual. soft and hard. she had that magnetic aura that left you craving more. i left moscow later that year. she moved to paris then back to moscow. we sporadically kept in touch. but always felt connected. we are now both at the recovery stage of our new old selves. in different countries. through different circumstances. but always connected. i hope you enjoy meeting her. 

'in her own words'


today i’m not feeling that great. which is a blow to the system because i’ve been doing so well lately, i’ve been so balanced and so still. i got used to the calmness (not to confuse with numbness). 

who am I? i’m anna. i’m a 33-year-old journalist and artist based in moscow, i’ve been blessed with a fantastic journey of a decade-long career as a tv host, an opportunity to live abroad and learn foreign culture and languages. i am also lucky to call myself a mother to an incredibly charismatic two-year-old.  

in addition to that i have failed miserably at maintaining a single long-lasting relationship since age 20, i'm twice-divorced and i have been struggling in therapy for years. that said, these past two years have been good! i’ve learnt a lot about myself and the world we all live in. enough, to finally stop being so self-absorbed. i know everyone has their own reasons for personal growth, there is often a lot of sadness and pain involved. i had to start from a point of complete numbness and learn to feel again from scratch. it was horrible at first, but then life blew up - like a cheesy movie, everything went from b/w to colour.

in 2016 i decided to award myself with something that has always been a dream of mine, to study fine arts properly and i enrolled on a course in the stroganov academy in moscow, one of the country’s best schools. painting and drawing five days a week worked wonders: better than yoga, better than meditation. it cleared my head from daily toxic thoughts, taught me to trust myself again, and most importantly - allowed me to live in the process. brought up to be goal-oriented, i am now a highly functioning professional: i don’t miss deadlines, i work fast, i learn fast, i’m good. i know it. 


but what happens when a goal-oriented person enters the delicate field of relationships? you got it. twice-divorced (mind you, marriage was my goal, not divorce). re-wiring oneself as an adult to 'think like this, not like that' is a task so difficult, so painful, that i’ve abandoned therapy several times and just went on with life as it were. until one day when suicidal thoughts once again started their infernal dance in my overworked mind, i realised that these emotional swings were too dangerous, because there was a child involved. i had to make myself less self-absorbed, less narcissistic. 

and it worked! i won’t bore you with the details, it took a lot of time and effort and i swear i wanted “out” on many occasions, but it was all worth it: i discovered so much love within, so much to give to others. a state of selflessness, a completely different approach to relationships and forming bonds with friends and men. it could be best described as a surprised 'ah… so I can live like this now? this is nice. why didn’t we do this earlier?' it was such a relief to just stop being inside my head all the time.

this is all a process, i don’t really care how it ends anymore - there are better days and worse days (like today), this new approach to life is creeping into my work ethic as well: where of course result is still king, but the process is no less important and should bring joy (it does! thank you, colleagues!) - so i’m much less stressed, than i used to be before.

regarding relationships, i’m learning to be that dependable, emotionally stable person who allows the partner to grow, creating a mutually beneficial environment of joy and stability. not an easy task for someone who’s previous relationship tool-kit consisted of manipulating, gaslighting, ignoring and finally abandoning, but hey…if i enjoyed easy, i'd take an evening wine-and-paint class, not enrol into one of the toughest art schools out there. 

writing this made me feel better. if you’re having a low day/week/year - reach out on instagram (@artistanna.f) - i love a good old social media hug. we all deserve to enjoy the moment and this, whatever it is, this too shall pass. 

'on three things that are part of her everyday'

  • my art supplies are my favourite things: they are my tools, my connection with the now, my means of expressing the love i channel 
  • my rings, most of them family jewels, are my signature thing: i always wear them, they balance out my energy field and i love them 
  • my yoga mat - this baby has pulled me through my toughest days. one love

'on how she lets herself know she is loved by her'

whenever i don’t feel well, i first try to separate apples from oranges and assess whether (and how much) i am physically tired. often i confuse feeling tired and feeling upset - as silly as it sounds, for me years of suppressing my feelings have mutated into this.

in any case i nurture my body and soul alike: i skip any demanding physical activity, i make sure i have nutritious meals throughout the day and sometimes i pamper myself with a bath or a face mask. i have a two-year-old, i'm a shower girl normally, if you know what i mean. i read classic russian literature a lot. dostoevsky’s karamazov brothers was there before eckhart tolle, just sayin’. 

then there are days when i hug the pillow, lie face to the wall and cry. i just let it happen now. i don’t fight the tears, i don’t numb my pain with tv, alcohol or drugs. i find that a gentle 'oh, I’m sad today. this is what feeling lonely is like' helps me get over my tears faster than denial and hiding behind constant distracting action. 

'on how hearing a song she listened to when she was thirteen makes her feel now'

i just listened to 'truly madly deeply' - a song i was crazy about aged 13 and i felt like i haven’t changed, my dreams haven’t changed. i definitely have more experience now: back then i didn’t recognize paris in the video, for example. i didn’t know it. now i do. but deep inside i’m still that 13-year-old girl screaming to be loved and love back. so the only difference is that now i can say: 'oh this is paris'. how odd.

thank you so very much for joining us


introducing series: 'creative companions'

one day i stopped feeling much at all
an eerie state of inner void
i disconnected as a mother
wife daughter sister friend
i stopped laughing
i opted out of enjoying my everyday
i thought it was a transient phase
one i can pull myself out of
only to realise
i was not equipped to deal with it alone
no one is
so i asked for help
and all the while
took photos and scribbled down words
for 365 days straight
of my ordinary life happenings
it helped to nurture my old new self into recovery
as i fell in love once more
with daily patterns and rituals
forming the fabric of our lives
so here i carved a virtual space
to carry on with stories of the everyday
and newfound creative living

half way through my 365 project, i came across a book that felt all sorts of serendipitous at the time. i gulped it down in one sitting. uplifted and emboldened by elizabeth gilbert's interpretation of creative living as 'a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear'.  an existence more enchanted and less mundane. it felt at once so obvious, yet unfamiliar to me. i brewed on it. i went back and reread it slowly. resisting temptation to underline in continuum. it shifted my mindset. it encouraged me to feel creative in my own skin. it gave me perspective to 'appreciate the value of my own joy' - to take pleasure in creative pursuits for the sake of pleasure it gave to me and to me only. no one else. it helped me to feel like i was more than 'the sum of my daily obligations and duties', like i was 'making something of' myself, like i was 'making something with' myself. it encouraged me to live creatively even through the days when i lost all perspective and meaning of that really means. it urged me to give the creative muscle a regular workout patient in the knowledge that

they come
they go
they visit when
you least expect them
with total disregard
as to your wantings
stay still
don’t make a sound
they’ll circle round and settle
then you can stretch your arms
and grab hold
for a delectable degustation

since then i have come across a community of creative companions, on instagram and in real life. all practising creative living because it is 'still the best way [for us] to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within' our lives that we 'cannot seem to access in any other matter'  

this series is a collection of stories of creative companions i have encountered along the way. some closely, some admired from afar. told in their own words. through their own longings, aspirations and feelings. stories i wanted to share with you because their company made me feel things

i hope they make you feel things too  

*all quotes from 'big magic' by elizabeth gilbert