Meet the maker
BEHIND THE ’GRAM, ARTIST PHILIPPA STANTON’S CREATIVE LIFE IS LED BY INSTINCT AND HER PASSION FOR COLOUR AND CONNECTING THE SENSES
Philippa Stanton chats creativity
Brighton-dwelling Philippa Stanton has an occupation which “encompasses many di erent things”. An artist, photographer and trained actress, she’s worked with her creativity throughout her life, from selling embroidered espadrilles aged 14 to painting with her synaesthesia – a neurological trait that results in a merging of senses not usually connected. Her vibrant images and thoughtful captions on Instagram – search @5ftinf for her colourdriven compositions – have attracted a following of over 430k. And, her new book, Conscious Creativity, is poised to hit shops on 15 November 2018.
Philippa’s creative endeavours don’t stop there though. She also supplies visual content for brands, runs workshops, and takes part in the Brighton Open Houses, opening her home with a curated exhibition of art, textiles and ceramics.
For Philippa, her style is best described as “free-form nostalgia, weaving a sensory story through a rustic exterior”. Eager to find out more, we chatted to Philippa at her beautiful home and studio. Tell us what you’ve been up to today. I got up at about 5.45am, and after feeding Cheeks, my cat, doing the washing up and tidying, I went on a bike ride to Ditching Beacon. I love the morning more than any other time of day. I got back just after 8am, saw my son o to college and had a cup of co ee sitting at the table. Purple things started happening in my head and pretty soon I was standing on a chair taking a picture. I went to my shed to work on my computer at about 9am and stayed in there until about 4.30pm, doing mostly book-related stu . A neighbour popped in to tell me about her photography exhibition and I realised I’d forgotten to eat! I had a couple of slices of toast and gave Cheeks some attention,
then went for a walk around the block, came home and did some washing. Today, unusually, I didn’t have an afternoon nap. I was desperate to spend the day gardening, but I feel like that most days. Tonight, I’ll finish designing my 2019 calendar, make plans for my Open House in November and probably watch an episode of Killing Eve with my son. You caught me on a real ‘home day’. What do you love most about what you do? The freedom I have to be able to act on ideas in the moment I have them. I love that I’ve found a way of surviving on my own terms. I love being able to express myself in an abstract way and experience the joy of creating chaotic mess around me while I do that. I love that a part of what I do is to spend time just sitting, looking and thinking. If I didn’t have that time, I would never actually ‘do’ anything. How did your career evolve? Very organically. I was always painting and making, and was in the right place at the right time on Instagram with a few years’ experience behind me. It was one of those lucky moments. I’ve always tried to be careful with what I say yes to, but building a creative career is real trial and error. You translate your synaesthesia into art – when did you first start expressing it this way? I begin creating little abstract paintings when I was about 12, and was also asked at drama school to draw sounds of vowels. However, when I was working at Shakespeare’s Globe we did a lot of intense voice work, and I realised I was seeing the shapes, textures and colours of voices. I tried to express it with textiles, but it wasn’t very satisfactory. About a year later I was compelled to paint an actor’s voice after a performance I’d watched, and suddenly realised that I’d found the right tools to interpret my inner abstract. Can we all access our senses more? Completely! I feel very passionately about this and wrote a chapter in Conscious Creativity about the senses
and synaesthesia to help people access, embrace and enjoy their senses more. I truly believe being connected to our senses leads directly to creative thought. Have you got any advice for creatives struggling with sharing their skills? I think they shouldn’t be afraid of the sharing process. People love to follow a story and feel part of the creation. It’s also important to be friendly and engage with people as much as possible so they get to know who you are and what makes you tick. I do struggle with this bit as I don’t have enough hours in the day to respond properly to everyone, but I also don’t want that to stop me from posting on Instagram. I often treat myself to a ‘business’ trip down an Instagram wormhole where I’m gone for hours!
“I believe that being more connected to our senses leads directly to creative thought.”
Has Instagram helped you develop as an artist? Yes, it really has. It’s a great way to document, and for me documenting experiences is key to unlocking creative potential. I love charting my inspirations photographically, and Instagram has definitely fuelled that. It allows you to indulge in repetition, which is a great way to explore boundaries, then inevitably get bored and find a way to move on. I love looking at other people’s progressions too. The accounts I love have inspiring images, but are also prepared to experiment. Do you have ‘voila’ moments? Not often. I always feel there’s more to be done, but I’ve learnt to recognise the point to leave something alone. Occasionally I feel that ‘voila’ moment when I make or do something for the first time, however I’ll then have massive frustration I can’t recreate whatever it is. Would you say your home and work space are a reflection of you? Yes, they probably are. I a ectionately refer to my home as ‘my den’, but that’s what it’s like – a big den which is cosy, a bit messy, and very much part of me. I love a bright room, but I’ve also learnt to appreciate shadow and darkness. Every bright home should have a dark recess, like a Japanese tokonoma. It’s grounding to look at shadows, like discovering a new world. How do you stay so connected to your creativity? Practise. If you don’t explore your instinctive responses on a regular basis, it’s harder to respond to inspiration floating around. Conscious Creativity touches on this, and I encourage people to connect with the childlike curiosity we lose when we’re older. If our instinct tells us somewhere has a strange atmosphere, for example, observe what you’re feeling rather than dismissing it. Everything we experience is useful creatively. Have you got a favourite saying or quote? “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense” – Picasso. I have it near me, on a postcard at home, at all times.
“Instagram allows you to indulge in repetition, which is a great way to explore boundaries.”
Philippa Stanton’s new book Conscious Creativity is published by Leaping Hare Press, RRP £14.99, available to buy online and in all good bookshops from 15 November. Find Philippa on Instagram
@5ftinf and visit her website at www.5ftinf.com.
01 Working at the table (with cat Cheeks), Philippa goes into a very focused zone. 02 Nature to Philippa is constant change; humbling and inspiring. 03 Philippa felt compelled to paint an actor’s voice,
that’s could “inner interpret when abstract”. she her 04 Compositions require time to discover a feeling about the day. 05 A lot of how Philippa creates her home has come from finding pearls in oysters.
01 The colour she’s most drawn to? “Blue, always blue; it’s my base note.” 02 Working in theatre Philippa was fascinated by set and prop details – she has a real sense of being able to change an atmosphere in a moment.