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

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: HE­LEN MARTIN Pho­to­graphs: RACHAEL SMITH

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.

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