I picture creativity as a constant companion we all have, one who can always be relied on, even though how they appear is sometimes not as we expect or want them to be.
An example of this is worry. Sometimes I have found myself catastrophising over terrible things that might befall me or my loved ones, and the detail has been so vivid that I have had a physical reaction; heart racing, clenched stomach, tension in the shoulders and given enough time, tiredness. As much as I don’t enjoy these side effects, I acknowledge and welcome the creativity that caused them as a loyal friend. It is doing exactly what my brain requested it to, painting pictures in my head, so well that I believed them for a minute. I also embrace this form of creativity because it has a conjoined twin who, guided by intention, brings me the ability to visualise positive possibilities for myself and others. When I combine this form of imagination with the energy of hope, I can turn what I have pictured into moments that bring intentions to life.
My creative nature is human nature, so I invited the group to reflect on the many and varied ways that creativity has flowed through them and their lives. The two sessions we spent reflecting and chatting about this theme were both incredibly inspiring, to the point that I found it impossible to choose short snippets of what they said and ended up with a much longer piece than we have shared on previous blog posts! I hope you agree it was well worth that time. Grab a brew and be inspired by our wonderful group’s wise (and often funny) words on the wide-spanning, well-being boosting nature of creativity and then read on to see their beautifully expressed pieces of creativity in written form.
Thankfully gone are the days I remember from school, being told I wasn’t creative because I couldn’t draw. I still can’t draw but the group discussion proved that there are so many ways of being creative. I always enjoyed writing, and still do. I was described as having a good imagination but it wasn’t defined as being creative. Is there a difference?
As a child, I played on my own a lot. Two brothers much older and one much younger meant that there were no natural playmates in the family so I lived in my head and invented scenarios in which I was taking part in exciting events. Winning the world with a two-ball juggling competition was just one!
I used to love going to the library and getting out books that showed you how to make things using wool, material and cardboard. I suppose I didn’t think of it as being creative because in my eyes I was just following instructions. It’s an interesting question. Is it being creative if you follow instructions or a pattern? To be creative do you need to have an original idea?
I continued to play imaginatively/creatively when I had children of my own, and spent many happy hours with them and the dressing up box. My daughter has always been the artist in the family and she was streets ahead of me and her elder brother in the imagination stakes, her brother being much more interested in scientific/mechanical games, especially Lego. Still. I like to think our creative dressing up games and stories were good for him too and exercised those areas of his developing brain that helped him build his complex models later on.
Later working with distressed and complex children and young people who found it impossible often to describe what their worries were all about, I used many and various pictorial exercises which helped them to identify their feelings and their concerns.
Creative? I’m not sure but it certainly opened channels in their minds which is perhaps what creativity is about.
CREATIVE…ME? It’s like… Putting pen to paper Or paint on a canvas sheet Icing on a party cake Or melted wax made neat It’s like… Sewing a pair of curtains Or knitting a scarf or hat Making a costume for schools nativity Or crocheting a mat It’s like… Hanging decorations Planting seeds that flower Putting paint on paper Listening to ‘women’s’ hour It’s like… Laying out the biscuits Colour co-ordinating socks Placing the finished jigsaw Back in its cardboard box It’s like… Choosing what you want to wear The placing of food on the plate It’s being quite creative Waiting for the paint, To dry and show a picture Delicately brushed Bright colours intermingle Creativity is a must It’s like… Laying out the table mats The glasses, serviettes Placing ornaments neatly on a shelf Let’s not forget It’s like… The names chosen for our children The meanings much desired The way we dress them lovingly Our work to be admired This creativity lark is wonderful We all have a touch inside Just bring it out and shake it up And wear it now with pride. P.Omoboye©
Creativity? What is it? Who has it? What is its significance in our lives? These are the questions explored in this month’s sessions. Led me to ponder the position of creativity in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs and led me to reflect on the difference between “Art” and “Creativity”.
On first thought creativity might be seen as the least important need however meeting the other needs surely necessitates us being creative. This was certainly the case historically if less so in the modern world. It is still in our nature, however, to be creative in this way, I can well remember the joy I felt when I harvested vegetables which I have helped to grow and the pleasure derived from cooking a nice meal, especially for another person..
Here is a photograph of a very healthy-looking meal I prepared more recently utilising fresh tomatoes and Chantenay carrots; both the produce of Chorlton Good Neighbours Community Garden.
Although more artistic pursuits do not in themselves address our primary needs, they are essential in that it is through them that we begin to understand ourselves and are able to interact with the world and each other. Whether it be a young child attempting his first crude drawing of his family home or William Shakespeare writing Hamlet!
Prehistoric man felt the need to decorate the wall of his cave with paintings and it is the development of language and later writing and mathematics that has enabled mankind to progress. Although such progress is often thwarted by totalitarian regimes (e.g., the ritual burning of books by the Nazis) and fundamentalist religion from the Roman Inquisition banning Galileo, through the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Tennessee to the current activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Indeed, there is a school of thought which apportions the blame for many of the ills of industrial society to the dearth of opportunities to be creative.
Finally, while reflecting on this topic I have formed the opinion that we both as individuals and as societies often undervalue the importance of creativity.
In thinking of creative ideas, it is easy to find little that we have done. But in looking back we can remember actions which did change life in a good way.
I thought of the time, during the 1960s, when our two boys were under school age. The baby clinic was organised in a local church hall, and when I took our youngest there to be checked by a nurse, his older brother came along each week. He wanted to play with the other children, but there were no facilities to allow this. I thought this was a shame, and decided to try to do something about it. I found that the church hall could be hired on three mornings a week, and on suggesting forming a playgroup several mothers were very enthusiastic indeed. This spurred me on to see how this could be arranged. We were allowed to store our toys, mats, small chairs etc under the large stage – and got quite fit in putting them in and out! We found a retired nursery teacher living close by who was happy to come along to help, so that each mum was able, in turn, to leave her child for a morning and have a well-earned rest. I can remember the games she played with the children and the songs she taught – a professional at work.
It was interesting how, over the years, the system worked out as each child reached school age another would come along and join in. I think that we were one of the first playgroups in the country!
The sunlight through the trees twinkled on the rainbow colours of the kingfisher mosaic. Its beauty stunned me.
I was walking, more slowly than usual, with a friend along the two-mile Windrush Path mosaic trail in Oxfordshire. We shared such joy in discovering the wildlife-themed mosaics along the river; taking time to appreciate each one, sitting and reading the poetry and nature notes on leaflet we’d picked up. We learned that the project was the dream of a community artist, involving many local people who completed the trail in her memory.
Later that year, thinking about what I might do when I retired, I googled “mosaic classes Manchester” and was pleased to find I was in time to join a one-day workshop in the city centre. With some trepidation, I found the artist’s workshop on the first floor a ram-shackled former mill. I enjoyed the day; sitting round a large table with a small, friendly group, learning hands-on with expert guidance from the tutor, Tracey Cartledge. I was delighted to find out that she also ran weekly classes within easy walking distance of my home, and that she’d just finished working on a soon-to-be-unveiled community mosaic, involving her class and many other local people, at Chorlton Central Church.
Mosaic-making is absorbing and fun, especially working alongside others and sharing ideas and techniques. It’s a similar pleasure to share stories in this group. Working on mosaics on my own at home, I’ve found those deeper levels of concentration that bring a sense of calm and peace, and time flies by.
Since that lovely walk in Oxfordshire, and learning about mosaic art myself, I notice mosaics more than I ever did before: in the porch entrances of old shops, on walks in parks and the countryside, in town centres, churches, museums and galleries, both here and abroad.
I stop and wonder at the skills of mosaic artists throughout the ages, all over the world.
I marvel at the beauty, and symbolism, of fragments pieced together whether they be specially crafted Italian tesserae, porcelain tiles, pieces of broken pottery, glass, mirrors, pebbles or found objects discarded by others.
I imagine the emotions felt by the children and adults who’ve collaborated in large creations.
I treasure their impact on me, and all who view them.