April 2021 Update
This week we mark 10 years since SquarePeg Studio’s inception. Around this time last year, at a time when it felt like the world had turned on its head, we started thinking about how we would mark the occasion. We knew we would have a celebration and as the year progressed we made the decision to give our website a makeover and have our branding refreshed with the ultimate goal to launch a store* to showcase the works of our talented resident artists.
One of the special things about celebrating milestones is that as occupied as you are, it causes you to pause and reflect on exactly what it is that you are celebrating. Working on the website “refresh”, (lol, it’s a rebuild and we couldn’t be happier about that**), has meant we have also been spending a lot of time reading old posts and looking at images from our past.
A post I read was one Emily wrote in March 2020, entitled Kindness Pandemic, and among other things she wrote, “During these challenging times, our mental health is going to be important to monitor alongside our physical health, and many of our students are already expressing to us a desire to continue their learning with us. We have our thinking caps firmly in place and we are hatching ideas as to how we can make that happen.”
Time proved her right, some people were concerned about how the isolation and changes to their usual routines would affect them and were looking for ways to stay connected. We did what many small businesses did responding as best we could and exploring ways to stay in touch with our community. During the total lockdown, we went online for a virtual Atelier, allowing the participants to check in with each other from the comfort of their own studios with the company and guidance of Melanie Ihnen, who had been due to start her first term teaching our flagship course just as lockdown started. Around this time we were fortunate to be the recipients of a Cultural Resilience grant from the Inner West Council, enabling us to create the online store which will be launching soon.
Once it looked like we might be able to have small groups in the studio again we re-jigged the classroom to allow for physical distancing and created individual tool boards for each student among all the things we have gotten to know so well, QR codes, sanitiser, the list goes on.
And when we could welcome students back into the classroom, we noticed a renewed energy and interest as people had had the space to reflect on how they would meaningfully occupy themselves in this new world. Many students have told us that they had always wanted to try something creative and this had sparked them to action. It has been wonderful to see the positive impact being able to come to a safe and welcoming place has had on our community of resident artists and students alike.
One of the overriding sensations one gets from being part of a creative community like ours is to have the opportunity to explore your own creativity and abilities, while surrounded by a diverse, yet like-minded group of people, a pandemic doesn’t change that.
Emily also wrote, “We send our thoughts back out into our creative community and across our country and our world. We all have challenges to face during these unprecedented times. We take solace in the firm belief that we all have an opportunity to shine bright with any kindnesses and generosity we can share in these truly unusual days.”
So reflecting on the past and the wonderful legacy Brenda Factor passed onto us and looking at where we are now, able to come together to celebrate, we do feel truly grateful for the kindness, understanding and generosity of our resident artists, tutors, students and wider community over the past year, it meant we were able to survive and maybe even thrive despite the difficulties. It really did mean the world to us, so thank you.
With warm regards,
Kim – Director SquarePeg Studios
* We thank Creative and Cultural Resilience Grant - Inner West Council ** Shout out to Steve West Developer and Kayleen Flanigan - Lightbulb Design, you did a great job!