A Space of One’s Own: Philip

‘I have a few favourite spaces – creative spaces such as the joinery shop with the roar of the machinery and the smell of the timber; the machine shop with its characteristic oily smells and metallic sounds; the garden with the bird song and the natural fragrances;  the theatre stage – although that is my own for the duration of the performance only.  Theatres have characteristic sounds and smells too, particularly the older ones.  The stage can be at once an isolating place and a temple of electrifying excitement – there is nothing quite like the “roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd”.  

This room is a room of secrets, the space where many ideas are born…and this is the bin where some end up.  It was a derelict space accessed by a ladder, having been the storeroom above what was once the village shop and post office, an addition to the original Victorian cottage.  So as part of the grand plan of creating a large house from two smaller ones this room was to be a bedroom for one of our children.  Off with the roof, off with the plaster, out with the ladder.  Now my study, it benefits from its own stairs, and is home to books, music, mementos of various adventures…and, oh yes, sometimes the stars of the show.  There isn’t much wall space but enough for this very prophetic holiday postcard from my grandparents when I was seven.  A Chinese jade puzzle ball from a market in Hong Kong – one day I want to make a wooden version – amethyst from Lapland, jet from Whitby, a figurine from an emporium near Aldeburgh.  This one is called Dance of Time– I found it not long after I had worked with a dancer on a show called Delusions of Time.  All my figurines have a story or special significance.

I think the past, history, how we got to where we are now, is important to preserve.  I enjoy working with tools and books used by my father and grandfather.  Old books are inspirational – these volumes of The Amateur Mechanic (from my great uncle, a watchmaker and jeweller) are now about a century old but detail how to do any job you might need to do – including taxidermy – and yes, I did a bit of that a long time ago!   I like restoring old props – it’s always a voyage of discovery, detective work, how they were made, used, performed.   

An old Foo can for restoration; lamps from our shows in Oman; coins from Las Vegas…oh, the ceiling patch is not a bit of bad DIY – it covers a wall painting of parrots done by a scenic artist who stayed here when the previous occupant of the room had a passion for parrots.   He is now a magician too (no parrots).  The painting is not signed, but then neither are Banksy’s. So I thought it worth preserving.’