Following behind the yachts racing around the Isle of Wight last weekend I thought about why island living has always appealed to me despite the obvious inconveniences.
A miniature version of anything has the potential to beguile just by virtue of its size; think miniature art works, humming birds, wild strawberries or those tiny handbags which were in fashion last year. At the same time all that twee tininess can be frustrating, think miniature bottles of alcohol or stupidly small nouveau cuisine.
Islands are no exception. When you stand on the highest point and are able to see a sparkling coast all around you feel yourself a world apart. Isn’t it ironic that small islands promise escape; as with the sea as your moat, you are as trapped and limited as you are separated from the mundane?
Real life on a small island (as opposed to a holiday) may offer both a stronger sense of community and the disparaged ‘island mentality’ -the idea that your world view may be as diminutive as your acreage. Everywhere, not just on islands, we see isolationism and the draw-bridge mentality is alive and well – and also out of favour – but on the three islands I have lived on for the longest time I have witnessed hilarious pettiness and huge kindness that seem to confirm to me that the best and worst clichés about island communities are mostly true.
We live in ever-more connected times and yet can feel more isolated from others and out of tune with ourselves. We were talking in the studio yesterday how even in the recent past when screens were less prevalent there was more time to create aimlessly and I was reminded how creatively stimulating boredom was for me as a child.
Here on island time, particularly in the winter the slowness and the disconnection can be deeply comforting. We have the contrasting busy, touristy, summer season as a counter point of course, but it is when it is quiet and I am grumbling about the lack of distraction that I do my best work. Slow Food is a thing and I think there will be Slow Time in the future when people recognise the importance of disconnecting from their digital lives and hopefully begin to appreciate the benefits of meditative absorption in labour-intensive creativity.
I am fortunate to have this job that demands hours and hours of introspective lino cutting. I am lucky that this very desk is my island where time slows down and I am able to create the bags we sell.
If islands are small worlds apart I encourage you to find your archipelago where the wi-fi is weakest and there I hope you can be productively bored, who knows what good things may come of it?