I was welcomed into the beach hut on Brighton seafront by Rose, who showed me round the two square metres of loveliness and then left me to my day of dreaming.
I know that I think better when I’m occupied so I brought a sketchbook and some marker pens, with the idea of doing some really simple, repetitive patterns that would occupy the bit of my brain that needs to make decisions, while the rest of it would be free to wander around some of the ideas and thoughts that I haven’t had time to focus on for a while.
I also brought my camera, which I pointed straight out to sea and set up to take photos every 30 seconds. I wanted to document my day but didn’t want it to detract from my time there, so leaving my camera to do the work all by itself seemed perfect. And this is what it saw:
After spending some time people watching and sea watching, I realised that actually I was a bit of a spectacle myself and lots of people wanted to talk about what I was doing. So, after a few lovely but distracting chats, I got the pens out.
I went for repetitive, brightly coloured dots – about 15,500 of them in fact. One of the reasons I like to work with pattern is that I think the order created by repetition can be calming and reassuring. In my work I like to disrupt this order, which for me is where a pattern becomes really exciting, but on this day I just wanted the calming element. So I sat, and drew little dots, letting my intuition choose which colours went where, and as I did it I thought about lots of things – big things and little things – that hadn’t had the attention they deserved in a while. And while that sort of thinking can often be stressful, I actually found myself feeling completely calm and content.
Drawing the dots was more about the activity than the final result, but it's given me some ideas for making really simple pattern tiles that can be combined in loads of different ways to create a final pattern that looks as if it is repeated, but is actually different every time it's put together. I (really!) hadn't meant to 'work' in the beach hut but it was a bonus to come away with new ideas.
Without wanting to do too much public soul-baring, a big part of the day for me was making some peace with my hometown of Brighton, somewhere that’s seen some of my most and least happy times and is always a bit emotional to visit. The opportunity to indulge myself in processing some of my thoughts and memories there was pretty cathartic.
And before I knew it, there was only an hour left. At which point I decided to treat myself to an hour of reading the book I’d just started, and I sat out in the deck chair and lost myself in the world of Theo Decker.
Rose came to lock up at the end of the day, and I went on my way, with a dreamy grin, to meet an old friend for dinner.
I can’t recommend a day in The Little Beach Hut of Dreams enough, and you can sign up to hear when next year’s applications open here.