My Studio: Laura Rock Gaughan

My studio is pure potential.

When we moved here, it was the smallest bedroom, with an L-shaped floorplan. A corner had been sacrificed, long before we arrived, to make space for a tub in the adjacent bathroom. Later, when we renovated the attic, this room was the logical place for a stairway leading to the new bedroom above. Strictly speaking, my studio is a glorified hallway.

But it has a beautiful old door—a necessity in a busy household—and a generous window that frames an apple tree. The tree is ancient; it’s been dying forever yet continues to bloom each spring. (As metaphors go, it’s a bit on-the-nose.) More trees lie beyond; a mixture of spruce, Manitoba maple, and black walnut. The saving grace of this home is that every window opens onto a view of trees.

A tall filing cabinet fits beneath the stairs. Like the room, it’s overstuffed with bills and records and files. My constant, unfulfilled plan is to impose order, but I already know where to find what I need. To an outsider this might look like chaos, but it’s mine.

On top of the cabinet are boxes containing scraps of notes, maps, and other artifacts, such as prayer cards and small figurines. Each box holds a collection related to a work in progress. While I have a hard time remembering myriad details of domestic life, I can reach into my project boxes, pull out a random item, and know its significance instantly—why I chose to save it, what it means to the story, how I plan to use it.

My husband built a desk into the corner and installed fluorescent task lighting and bookshelves. Here, I gather books related to whatever I happen to be working on. The surface of the desk is cluttered with meaningful objects, like stones my children painted when they were young and pottery picked up during my travels. Beneath the desktop, a shredder gets regular workouts from my rejected pages. My project files are semi-organized in wall-mounted plastic pockets labeled with aspirations, the various schemes I use to trick myself into the chair and finally clock regular writing hours. One of them reads, PRACTICE.

IMG 3914 resizedMy studio feels cozy. I know how lucky I am to have this space. The walls are painted my favourite colour—a warm mulberry. To the bulletin board, I’ve pinned family photos, play tickets, clippings from artist profiles and book reviews, and quotes I like. (Here’s a good one: “Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”—Martha Graham)

My studio is a fraught concept. I’ve probably over-complicated it. The truth is, it has everything I need; the scaffolding to support my work is here. When my studio reaches its full potential, it will be my refuge, a space of clarity and attention.