Creative in the Countryside: Victoria Irving
Nicola: You describe yourself as a nature-inspired creative. Can you tell us about the work you do and what drew you to be an artist?
Victoria: As a child, I spent my free time creating, writing & on road trips with my Dad in the countryside. I believe my calling has always been a creative one, but it took me years to accept it.
I was raised believing a ‘proper’ job was required for life, and that art could only be a hobby. Although I was never discouraged from creating as a career, I was never pushed in that direction either. It’s only since becoming a mother I've realised I want my daughters to know having a creative career is more than ok. That it’s actually a blessing.
I’ve recently discovered a love of Pyrography. Burning wildflowers onto a wooden hand mannequin, or a tree slice is a meditative process for me. I've written a children’s picture book I intend on illustrating when I get the chance. I just need more hours in the day or better time management. One or the other! I’m excited about this book, as I want to share the message of slowing down and appreciating nature with everyone.
Nicola: Can you tell us about where you live, the space you work in and what a day in your life looks like?
Victoria: My day starts between the hours of five and six in the morning, and coffee is an essential part to that. It’s a morning ritual I don’t think I could ever break. Although I will never admit to being a caffeine addict! This is my time before the family wakes and the morning rush commences.
I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person, but I find if I have time to wake at my own pace my days run smoother & I'm less rushed. I spend this time drinking coffee, doing yoga, meditating or catching up on Instagram. My working hours are less structured these days. This is because I now have a baby and have started college, so two days a week I'm studying or on placement.
I’ve never been the 9-5 type, so I grab my creative opportunities where I can. This is often in the evening when the children are asleep, or a day when I'm childfree.
I have a little studio in my home. It's great for convenience, and to be able to shut the door without tidying it all away from little hands or the dog. I do dream of having a studio with a view. I live in Cumbria where I'm surrounded by countryside, hills and all the inspiration I need. To have that on my doorstep would be the ultimate dream.
Nicola: From where do you get your inspiration? And how does it influence the work you do?
Victoria: It’s all about escapism. Being able to have that moment of calm, even if briefly. I try to emulate that in my work. There’s something freeing about being out in the wild and feeling you’re the only one around for miles. To be free of the thoughts of the busy lives most of us lead. It’s all about being present in the moment.
It’s taken a lot of practice and soul searching to realise what my goal is with my art. Over time, and during many walks in the forest or trips to the fells, I have come to realise this is my inspiration. My home is full of little treasures I collect, like jars of heart-shaped stones or shells. Jugs full of feathers and the odd dried poppy head. This is my way of bringing the outdoors in and keeping that little bit of inspiration close by.
Nicola: You talk about deciding to leave your rushed and busy life behind in search of simplicity. Can you tell us more about this story and why living a simple life is important to you?
Victoria: I can’t say I lived a typical, fast-paced life like some. I’ve never been a city girl, but I’d spend my days rushing about doing things I thought I should be doing. I realised I was putting my own dreams on hold. It wasn't intentional, but I was focusing on other people and burning myself out in the process. It left very little time for me. I didn't think I needed time for me.
When my life changed dramatically over the space of a year I found myself in the midst of grief and self-discovery. Losing both my parents close together taught me the importance of a living a life well lived. It taught me what mattered most.
It taught me what I wanted for my children. I realised that if I lived an intentional life it would guide them towards doing the same. I can't say I've got it sorted. I'm very much a work in progress, but I'm giving it my best shot!
Nicola: Your work and life philosophy is to be true to yourself, follow your passion and create your own path. I love every one of these. Can you tell us how you incorporate this philosophy into your life and work?
Victoria: I used to spend so much time doing what I thought others wanted from me. Thinking that because I could create that product or that style of artwork, it would be my ‘path’. The problem was it never sat well with me. I was churning out artwork I didn’t like, and it was a light bulb moment when I realised I didn’t have too! It sounds silly but others influenced me. I never allowed myself the time to create what I liked or what I wanted.
It all comes down to confidence. Having the confidence to just be you. Realising this was eye-opening. Having this confidence keeps you on the path you’re supposed to be on. The best part is that happiness follows. I only wish I’d discovered this sooner!
Nicola: For our readers who have a creative dream, but don’t feel they have the courage to pursue that dream, what would say to them?
Victoria: By all means work in a job that pays the bills and brings in the cash. It’s a part of life, as we need to earn money. But don’t let that stop you from creating the life you want. That idea floating around in the back of your mind, the one that pops up saying “I really want to make/sew/paint/do that” … find the time to do it. You’ll be surprised at how making time to create the things your heart desires opens doors for you.
You’ll start noticing little synchronicities pop up in your life and the next thing you know you’ve opened an Etsy shop, or you’re meeting other like-minded folks for coffee each week. They’ll know someone who knows someone and little by little your dreams will become a reality.