I’ve been thinking and reading about the nature of creativity recently. Love a bit of navel-gazing. Here are some of my thoughts.

 

In On Connection  Kae Tempest explores how and why personal creativity can give us a deeper self-awareness and connection with the world and our relationship to the wider world. Insightful and beautifully hypnotic use of language, Tempest is a joy to read.  I’ve read this several times and I’m sure I’ll return to it again.

Less ethereal, more grounded in the ‘everyday’ Jarvis Cockers’ Good Pop, Bad Pop also ponders creativity. He asserts that everyone can be creative and that it’s the doing that’s the secret.  I knew I’d enjoy Good Pop, Bad Pop. I used to listen to Jarvis witter on for hours, Sunday afternoons on Radio 6. It certainly wasn’t for his musical choices. This was billed as an inventory – also am a great collector of ephemera. I thought I’d be reading a kindred spirit. But having read the book, I realised that I am not a hoarder. I would not keep a bar of Imperial Leather with the original label. I have created a digital drawing of an Imperial Leather label – but I wouldn’t know which generation of the label it is. My drawing was referring to my childhood belief that Imperial Leather was luxury, was posh. My bar was set pretty low, I thought Vienetta was a fancy pudding – but in my world of Angel Delight, it was. Everything is relative. If imperial leather came in a tin – I would have that tin. My family ridicules my collection of ‘rusty tins’ – but that is a proper collection. Not hoarding, you wouldn’t catch me keeping a packet of chewing gum for 20 years, like Jarvis. My vast collection of matchbox lids is social history. Not hoarding.

 

Anyway, I’m drifting off course here. Jarvis taking me down a nostalgia rabbit hole. I’m supposed to be focusing on creativity right now. Whether this is the written word, music, art, film, performance, styling, knitting or baking. It’s all good to put your energy into. Creativity helps us know ourselves better, and to understand the world better too. For me creating starts with paint or ink and gesture, as shapes and ideas form, intention meets chance. I enjoy following this process until I feel the image and my thoughts and feelings are resolved.

 

Often, I don’t know where my work is going it’s a process, an exploration, where things emerge and take shape. It can feel contrived, attaching meaning and statements to work, when it just became. Creating can be quite mediative, where you begin to see, to understand through the process. That process, like writing essays when studying can be quite a difficult process – but the journey to clarity and understanding.

 

In my ideal world, I’d just get to create. I don’t want to put my energy into self-promotion and selling. I don’t mind exhibiting, but rather not do the hanging! I’m sounding like bit of a princess really. I don’t have to put your energies into being the next ‘big thing’ – because that would lead to disappointment and would be missing the point. I’m aware of the irony of quoting books by famous people to illustrate my point of creativity for creativity’s sake rather than chasing recognition. Nowadays it’s assumed that the goal is fame, and seems that many people present a filtered front.  Is everyone really desperate for their 15 minutes? With Instagram, surely everyone can have at least 5 minutes. I’m not sure it’s great to be looking outwards for validation all the time, it doesn’t leave much room for introspection and inspiration, for creating. Yet it seems to be the marker of success these days. In the words of Kae Tempest, “If you allow approval to define you, you will have no choice but to allow disapproval to define you when it comes.” …

It’s a reality of life that social media is a tool for getting your work out there. And social media, the internet is all evolving, unfolding – we only just beginning to grasp it. Reality is constructed, and with this understanding, many of us have evolved public personas. Politicians seem to be more about personality than policies. One year we’re clapping for nurses on the doorsteps and the next we’re cursing them for asking for a living wage. Which is real? Who constructed this truth? Fear is whipped up, people can be cancelled and lots seem to be having so much fun online doing just that.

You’d think it would be positive, this awareness that truth is a construct – but at the moment it’s not feeling so great. So I think I’ll be mostly looking inwards for a while. Focusing on creating for creativity’s sake – especially when the reality of social media ain’t always so pretty.

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