Wake Up Your Sleeping Heart

The thought process behind this post came from various places. The title, which the eagle eyed (or perhaps eared) among you will maybe have noticed, is part of the chorus of a song called 'Wake Up' by The Vamps. I heard it while I was driving the other day (although I had no idea it was The Vamps or what the song was called and had to google the odd lyric I could remember) and it seemed to pull together several things that have been gently bobbing about in my brain for a while. 

For the latter part of my childhood and teenage years, and the early part of adulthood, I studied art nearly exclusively. It was an integral part of my being, and because I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my time - I pretty much didn't. From the days of watching art attack, to choosing a double art GCSE at school, then a fine art BTEC at college (which was somewhat frowned upon, because in my school's opinion I was 'too clever' and should have chosen A-Levels) to me and everyone around me it was a no brainer - art was my thing, it was what I'd always done, so why wouldn't I. I had a brief foray into the idea of interior design at college, and considered set design and graphics at one point, but in the end chose a degree in fine art, because I could carry on playing, finding my voice in a physical way and feeling validated and purposeful while doing so. If I wanted to spend all day playing with an idea but have nothing physical to show for it, that was ok. If I felt really strongly about something and wanted a fight about it, I could go and pick a fight about it, then apologise the next day when I realised I'd got myself on such a high horse I wasn't listening properly, and that was ok too! 

I knew about the art world. I followed the work of those people I found most inspiring, and I listened to their view on the world, and formulated my own opinions of current affairs by viewing their work. I cried in Hyde Park because I so loved the Anish Kapoor show, and I would have argued to the hilt with Tracy Emin because I just don't agree with her. I could hold my own when people suggested too much money was spent on the arts, or that culture is pointless and future generations don't need art and music curriculums, and I could explain why I didn't just love it, but why I needed it.

I graduated nearly six years ago, and it wasn't until a conversation with a barista in an M25 service station that I realised how long those six years have been in terms of me distancing myself from something that used to be intrinsic, that was in my very bones. I was wearing the brooch in the picture, a painted wooden artists palette that my best friend Laura bought me for my birthday last year. 

As he handed me my drink, the unsuspecting Starbucks man, nodding at the pin on my jumper asked me 'Are you an artist?' I'd forgotten I was wearing it, but glanced down and immediately replied 'No, I used to be', and something inside me broke a little. I didn't realise that's not the way I thought of myself anymore, and I just about made it back to the car before I burst into tears. I felt a little like I imagine grief might feel. 

A few weeks later, D and I were meandering round Waterstones, and he handed me a book: Anthony Gormley on Sculpture, a collection of works by sculptors who have inspired Gormley's own work (who incidentally was always one of my favourites) As I flicked through it, I had the same feeling I get when I haven't seen someone for a long while, but then you meet up or talk and it's like you've never been apart. That feeling of 'oh yeah, I remember how easy this is and how comfortable I am here with you'. It's like going home. 

I then descended into a swirling vortex of crap where I felt like there was no going back to that old frame of mind, a melodramatic few days of 'ugh that part of me is gone forever...'

But, I calmed myself down, and then I heard this song on the radio, and like I said before, it seems to just pull those feelings together. I'm not going to share all the words to the song here, you can go hunting for them if you like, but the gist (for me) is that the person you've been waiting for (be that yourself, or someone else) never went away, and you just need to 'wake up your sleeping heart!'

I'd like to end this rather gushy post with a quote from my friend Rob. We were at uni together, and after I told him about my crying-in-the-car-after-friendly-barista conversation, he said this....

"Artists are a crazy bunch! Being an artist is a lifestyle decision not a talent to be born with or a technique to learn. It is something much stronger which is an integral part of who we are and the way we observe life and all it's happenings, even at the times when we are not making actual physical art works"

So, I suppose what I'm trying to say is, "Yes, Mr Barista, I am." 


  1. As someone else who has recently realized that I no longer call myself an artist I can totally relate and feel your pain through this post when you were walking back to your car.
    I've been working on healing myself slowly to start feeling like I can begin to feel like I can create again. I'm going to start my first project in April.
    Good luck to you! :)

    1. Thank you so much. It's a funny realisation isn't it, but I guess now we have realised, we can work on not letting it happen anymore! Good luck with your project! x