I’d like to share with you a little secret. In Oxford there is an arts space, as a visitor you might know it as The Old Fire Station, open to the public for performances, exhibitions, buying little keepsakes and taking a break with a coffee or bite to eat.

What is visible on first entering the building, however, is only half the story, only half of the life, half of the thinking and creativity that makes this space so uniquely significant to so many different people.

The Old Fire Station is home to Crisis Skylight Oxford too, and the rest of this expansive establishment facilitates a full and varied timetable of courses and support for people living in unstable accommodation or still seeking a home. And there are many of us; you just might not have seen us.

Our Place is a collaboration between Arts at the Old Fire Station, Crisis members and visiting lead artist in residence Katie Taylor. It is a chance to give visitors a glimpse of the work and creation that takes place behind the scenes, to share a snapshot of the unseen spaces and a give you a feel for what this building means to us as Crisis members with a specific interest in art.

Through an exhibition of work aiming to explore spaces and materials in the building often overlooked, It is also a unique chance for us to work with Katie to develop and build on our own skills, ways of seeing and how we communicate this through our work.

Like many of us, I can be particularly self-critical, which often stifles any potential for creativity or pleasure in the process of making.

Our Place opened me up to lots of ideas around how we collectively and unconsciously leave marks and traces each time we use the art space, the tools and materials, aprons and cleaning areas.

I’ve often looked at the cloths I’ve used on autopilot to wipe off the excess paint on a picture and thought afterwards, they look so much better than the actual piece I’ve been trying so painfully to pass as art.

I began coming to the Crisis art sessions knowing that I wanted to work on slowing down to enjoy the process rather than focus on the outcome.

I also came to classes out of a necessity to challenge my pattern of withdrawing from others when I feel low.

This building encourages collaboration, inclusion, and friendship, it’s how it works. It’s a constant source of inspiration. Just being around other people creating things is enough sometimes.

I hope my work reflects this, noticing more than what’s obviously in front of me, to widen my gaze. This wouldn’t have been possible without feeling comfortable enough to practice it in this building ‘Our Place’.

Our Place opens at 6pm tomorrow as part of the Christmas Light Festival and runs until December 22.