It has been a busy month and like January, I'm flying in on the last day to write my February blog post. I'm continuing with the theme of creative purpose, a theme that we've been touching on in my Facebook group 'Helen Hallows - Creative Courage'.
The purpose of creativity is a topic I come back to again and again. it is like the spiral of my life and the further along life's path I go, the more I hope to spiral in on answering the question of what it means to be creative. To me creativity is like breathing. It's what I do. I think it has tremendous value for my life and to society. And yet I feel that I continually need to advocate for its purpose in our lives. My oldest son is currently choosing his GCSE options and it seems that there's no way you can choose more than two creative subjects. Three sciences is celebrated, but three arts - where's the point in that? I think the value of the creative subjects in teaching resilience, problem solving and innovation is being tragically missed in current education. And what does that mean for wider society? I think it means that we lose out on innovation and development. We lose our free thinkers. It means that at age 12 many children stop their creative education. Full stop.
As a creative I find that deeply saddening. It means the value of our culture is not upheld, it means that the pleasure of making is lost. it means that our craft heritage becomes diminished. Cultural understanding is lost. Coupled with austerity and high university fees the upshot is it becomes harder and harder to be a self-employed creative. I think we are in the midst of a cultural revolution. It's time to use it or lose it.
I recently watched 'Yarn', a film about textile artists and their practice. I loved the passion for their creativity, but also the voice it gave them to express their views about the changing society they live in.
For most of us (and those who responded in my Facebook group), our creativity is our life blood. It is how we have always responded to life, it's holistic and sensory. No wonder that when we are prevented from creating, by jobs, illness, caring roles, we feel cut off from ourselves. We become desensitised, life isn't whole. For others in the group their creativity is very much about facilitating creative healing in others, as art therapists, as parents and as tutors. Putting someone back in touch with themselves through creativity is powerful and healing. To create we often come into ourselves, we find our introverted side and seek solace from a fast paced world. Perhaps we need to create together, to exercise our voice and be brave creative souls. To tell the world of our unique creativity and encourage others to connect to theirs. We must not be broken, we must be loud and proud!! Small steps to big goals - I have organised a family art party for friends and their families to enable and encourage creativity in a free and joyful environment. I also think we need to bravely connect to all our senses....to not become desensitised....to FEEL life.
The photo I shared at the top is one I took at Ground Zero in New York, six months after 9/11. It wrenched me then as now. It tells of the power of creativity in the face of atrocity and uncertainty.
Where does this lead? To discovering a sense of purpose for your art. I don't think art needs to be overtly political, just doing it becomes and act of defiance, sharing it tells the world that art is valid and alive. And that I have decided is my purpose - to tell the world that art is valid and alive. Small steps....
I love these words by Barbara Kingsolver about the uncertainty of the creative process, the showing up and having the faith to leap. Don't forget to come and share your superpowers at 'Helen Hallows - Creative Courage'