ISSN 2050-5337 - ISSUE 5

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Thursday, 01 May 2014 13:12

Artists' Practice and Creative Development

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Here at the Creativity Centre we have just completed a project with artists in our local area. Funded mainly by a grant from Arts Council England, the aim of this project was to discover how our ejournal is made relevant to an artist’s practice and creative development - but it became much more than this. This project was highly successful, really useful and meaningful for the artists and art students who took part and a moving and rewarding experience for us. We received excellent feedback and everyone wanted to contribute to the journal. They identified key development needs and made valuable suggestions for future content to meet their needs and those of other artists. More importantly participants found this project so relevant, enjoyable and useful that they want to continue meeting monthly. They’re so enthused by this project that they want to learn more about Creativity for Artists, contribute more, continue developing their own creativity as artists and sharing their expertise with others.

The Project

We recruited a diverse group of artists from various fields including fine arts, music, theatre arts, jewellery and silversmithing, ceramics, sculpting and upcycling, acting, writing, dance, illustration and photography. Everyone was invited to an interactive workshop exploring how participants see creativity and what it means to them as artists. This included group activities on overcoming barriers to creativity, evaluating different approaches for generating creative ideas and an arts/creativity discussion group.  There was an opportunity to view the journal. Here are a couple of comments we received:

‘I like the wide ranging aspect of the articles you’ve shown us’

‘I like the look of the journal; the way it covers such a broad remit showing creativity is everywhere’

 Artists identified their development needs and ideas for future journal topics/themes for supporting their creative development including:

  • Earning a living by creative enterprise
  • Barriers to creativity; stories of practitioners who overcame their personal barriers
  • Expanding arts practice, taking ideas and pieces to the next stage
  • How creativity boosts/affects human development
  • The psychology of creativity
  • Health and creativity
  • Creativity, motivation and self confidence
  • Links of art to the natural world, science and technology; art and global warming
  • Creativity and multiple arts disciplines (textile design, fine art, performance arts)
  • The importance of creativity; valuing art in schools
  • The importance of amateur input into the arts
  • The link between creativity and historical heritage
  • Multiculturalism and world images
  • Creativity development
  • Promoting creativity

 They also wanted the journal to include:

  • More interviews
  • Collaborative artist projects
  • A gallery featuring the work of different artists but with links to the individual artists involved
  • More music/dance/art
  • Opportunities to share techniques
  • Demo techniques on video.

And for it to adopt a questioning approach in which widely held beliefs were challenged. This is very much needed in the area of creativity and something we have already begun to do.

Regarding the ejournal’s facilities, they were fairly satisfied with what they saw but also suggested:

  • message and discussion boards
  • networking opportunities
  • an area for a mentoring system.

 All the above comments resulted from their initial introduction to the journal and although we had already begun to address some of these topics, it was useful for us to know we were on the right lines, as well as taking their fresh ideas on board.

Some of their other suggestions for the journal seemed better suited to local events or were already being covered by Arts News or the local Creative Torbay website. These included:

  • An area for who is locally available and contactable for information/advice on a specific topic
  • Financial issues such as how to make funding applications, income practicalities, being self-employed, sponsorship opportunities
  • Local creative opportunities for youth
  • Sections to find local artwork
  • Networking opportunities
  • Workshops by ‘experts’ and mentors
  • Career opportunities in the arts
  • Advertising exhibitions, workshops or courses.

 What the artists thought of the event

‘Well-organised, enthusiastic organisers and good mix of participants’

‘Meeting people in a similar situation to myself, being with other creative people instead of at home in my workshop alone’

‘It was liberating because many like-minded people got to communicate with each other and talk about what they have in common as well as their personal fears’.

‘Great mix of like-minded people, sparked ideas, new thinking’.

‘The conversations that really got me thinking, meeting new people from different [arts] disciplines’

‘The different arts/multidisciplinary, discussing openly, friendly group, fresh ideas.’

‘meeting new creative people; affirming/reassuring to hear that others share similar struggles/issues’

‘the activities were interesting and talking things through in a group was enlightening and enjoyable’.

‘Yes, good to meet kindred spirits, not necessarily in my specialism’.

‘Talking through the barriers we are all facing and how we can tackle/overcome these issues’.

‘Feel inspired to be more creative’.

‘Writing down what stops me progressing – barriers – will help me get over these barriers hopefully’

‘It was useful because we first got to network – that’s an important factor for everyone, especially creatives, the struggle to find jobs  doing what they love ’

‘Showed the diversity of people interested in all aspects’

‘Yes, I’m currently researching creativity and other fields and opinions are hugely useful and insightful’.

‘Useful to network with all different crafts, potential for more meetings’

‘Yes, networking; helped me to “see ideas” and get ideas in discussions about my stumbling blocks and ways of addressing them’

‘Enthused me’

‘Yes I want to develop my creative endeavours and [I] feel supported by this group’

 As can be seen from the above comments all the participants were really complimentary about the workshop and when asked if there was anything we should have done differently most said no:

'No, the variety of disciplines was refreshing. The day ran smoothly and the music was lovely. I would enjoy more events like this with more activities to try.'

'No it was great'.

'No it was brilliant and very collaborative'.

 Participants were then asked if there was anything else they wished to add to their feedback forms and here are some typical responses:

‘I would enjoy more events like this with more activities to try’.

‘More of these workshops would be useful. I know many other people would benefit from the experience’.

‘A big well done for organising the event’

‘Networking, meeting up again maybe to do creative activities facilitated by one of us – and to break through barriers and find new inspiration!’

‘Why were there so few men?’

‘It has been fantastic to be in a room with such keen, passionate professionals’.

‘More events for local artists of all disciplines’

‘A big thank you to all involved and to add that the funded place enabled me to come. I’m desperate for this but simply can’t afford the usual charges. I’d love to continue with our group – it’s a great support’.

 Everyone promised to provide work for the journal. They all expressed their willingness to communicate with artists elsewhere via the journal including enabling others to benefit from their expertise, or learning from others, as appropriate.

The follow up work

Given participants’ desire to continue meeting as a group, we ran an additional seminar at South Devon College alongside the one to one sessions dedicated to helping the artists prepare their work for uploading to the journal. This seminar centred mainly on what the focus of this group should be since it was clear that our project had really sparked off something meaningful to the artists and students involved.

It was unanimously agreed that the group should focus on Creativity for Artists. In other words they want to continue the learning which began with this project, delving even deeper into the field of creativity and the way in which this will serve to develop their practice as artists.

It was agreed to meet monthly in a variety of stimulating venues (including on a Cornish lugger and a canoe on the River Dart!). The programme would include input on creativity from ourselves, contributions from the artists involved in terms of their own expertise, and external speakers. A group exhibition was also suggested. Since then, our journal’s Kenyan artist, Dinesh Revankar, has suggested a joint exhibition with these artists – via the journal and/or on location in South Devon, depending on the availability of funding.

You can see some of the artists' work below.

{module Our artists}

Dr Marilyn Fryer

Marilyn is a Director of the Creativity Centre UK Ltd, and Chief Executive of the Creativity Centre Educational Trust - a voluntary role. A chartered psychologist and author, her work has been presented and published internationally.

Marilyn enjoys talking about creativity education in the UK. This was the theme of her keynote presentations at the Annual Meeting of the Japanese Association of Educational Psychology in Shizuoka, Japan; the Torrance Lecture Series, Athens, Georgia; and the International Forum on Creativity at the opening of the Nobel Prize Centennial Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur where she was also a panel member for Forging the Creative Agenda for Malaysia. Marilyn has also undertaken consultancy on the development of creativity for various government bodies in the UK and overseas.

Before co-founding the Creativity Centre with Caroline, Marilyn spent much of her career in the university sector undertaking research and teaching creativity education, developmental and cognitive psychology. At Leeds Metropolitan University, where she was Reader in Psychology, she set up the cross-university Centre for Innovation and Creativity (CIC) as well as devising and delivering a series of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in applied creativity, supervising research and undertaking her own research into creativity in education.

One of the things Marilyn most enjoys is meeting people from all over the world and collaborating with them to create publications and learning resources in the area of creativity and human development, which is one reason why she enjoys being an editor of this journal.

www.creativitycentre.org.uk
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