I was born like this,
I had no choice,
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty seven angels from the great beyond,
They tied me to the stage right here in the Tower of Song.
When I hear it I get struck by how lucky I am to be able to live by the gifts I was granted. Whether by genetics or a gift of the gods, the day I decided to live true to myself was profound. I have often felt that creativity is seen by many as a luxury, an indulgence, something to be sidelined and controlled. It is seen as a precarious career choice and not economically viable. Yet, despite all that advice it is in me to create and I do not feel alive unless I am creating. After having my boys, I thought it would be best to shelve my creativity, to try and find direction that would provide securely for them, and to subvert my creativity to tend to their needs. In some ways I had to, there wasn't enough time or energy for both. Then I became disengaged from myself, and broken. It was then, in a moment of clarity that I accepted myself for who I am, who I want to be, and who I want my children to see me as. It took me a long time to reach this level of acceptance. What I want to give my children is an understanding of their gifts and the strength to shine. There is a wonderful TED talk by Ken Robinson that I re-watch regularly. In it, Ken Robinson questions how we educate our children by squashing their creative souls, and with that their ability to think independently, and to create solutions.
I read that if the same money that has been given to the banks to carry us through the banking crisis had been invested in the Creative Industries, we would have a new (creative) industrial base to move our economy forwards. Through social networks, I work alongside some amazing designers, makers and thinkers, all pieces of the jigsaw of our creative industries. Most of us work freelance and make a modest income. There is a huge amount of good will and hard work with small economic rewards. What if there were social investment in art centres and studios, bursaries for studio spaces and tax breaks for new creative businesses? What if small start up funds from venture capitalists were available to help small creative businesses expand? What if we were told the story of how our Computer Gaming industry sells ideas to the world or our freelancers provide designs for the world to manufacture?
I think it comes down to undervaluing creativity at school. If you do art it's because you flunked your academic subjects, it's because you can't rather than because you can (both statements untrue). Education needs to embrace the thinkers, dreamers and creators so we can move towards valuing our national creativity. I went in to the Reception class at my son's school where learning is three dimensional and play based. It would be great if it remained that way and the onus was on teaching our children to think independently and creatively. Instead I feel we are educating them to be cogs in a wheel that no longer functions. I am going to start to ask my children 'What do you think?'. The children at my Valentine workshop were full of their own ideas. I was told that a heart wasn't really this shape and each child placed the wing differently on each bird, some happy with one, most needing to stick down two. It was fascinating to see the world through their eyes.
Valentine heart workshop
Well, I didn't start this blog post expecting to come up with a manifesto for the future of the nation (!), more that I wanted to celebrate the wonder of being creative and the joy of living a daily creative life. I went to York at the weekend with two friends from my London days. I have come back full of new projects and ideas. I loved the pleasures of sharing food with good friends, travelling by train across Yorkshire, losing myself in a good book whilst travelling, day dreaming, embracing the unexpected. Again, it is the time out, the spaces between work that are the fuel for my creative life. I forget that so easily! It is by going away that I come back and see things afresh. It is by being true to myself that I feel fulfilled.