Creative action

The three main opportunities where people can develop and exercise creativity is school, work or in their own time, the latter being the most efficient. The first thing school knocks out of children is creativity to be replaced by conformity, boredom management, and competition.

With the exception of stubborn children, committed teachers and sympathetic parents most children leave school believing art and creativity is for the specialist. I have taken summer painting workshops where five year olds exhaust the material supplies in a few hours with uninhibited artwork in abundance, and where fifteen year olds deny ever even holding a paint brush. I can’t draw! I’m rubbish at art! Through the process of school art and creativity become vocations and are somehow extricated from the interweave of social life.

Closed doors

Much of the creative ethos in places such as Govan is hidden, displaced or contained behind closed doors for for a plethora of reasons and social factors. For the same reason there is no need to convince the community of socialism because they are already sociable, there is no reason to convince them of creativity because they are already creative. And it is behind these doors that the sources and ideas lie and it is from these sources that people should express the role they would like to play in the artistic field. And it is through these sources art should be encouraged

Genuine actors

Much more important in regeneration work is that the community become genuine actors in the strategy of preparing them for the task of maintaining cultural connections within their community. Rather than being encouraged to create art spectacles which can have the same effect as the galleries I have mentioned else where. High on artistic profile and symbol. look good in publications but are low in participation and longevity of the intended benefactors the community.

Source and inspiration

Much is used of the ordinary today in contemporary art. Some of it relevant some of it not so. So much controversy is made of conceptual art. The unmade bed. The film loop. The light bulb flicking on and off and such like. Here is nothing new about this approach to art. What is new about this approach is its use as a technique in disguising mediocrity and nullifying rather than inspiring the viewer. After the Second World War the directions that had become apparent in pre-war avant-garde movements states Adrian Hendry, profoundly affected a new generation of artists. Art could go into the streets, be a political act, take away the barrier between fantasy and reality affect the quality of daily life, seek inspiration from humble and despised objects, and create an environment of its own.” Unfortunately this liberating approach to “taking art to the street” away from the established gallery situation has found itself today back in the gallery as big prize art. So what was once looked at as liberating expressive art born in the street, and in the public domain is today commandeered as “cutting edge” art in the gallery. And a cutting edge art that offers in the main no hope or explanation of purpose.

Art as life

Creativity is practiced in most peoples lives the first step is convincing people that they are creative. The mother with a family to feed with limited resources makes choices of either spending the few quid on chips or a McDonalds or shopping around for some vegetables get a ham bone from the butchers make some soup and buy a loaf of bread that could last more than one meal. Someone who is unemployed can take the tube into town, alternatively walk following the river check out the architecture and what’s new and buy something nice to eat with the tube fare. You can sit and watch television all day or you could visit one of Europe’s biggest reference libraries and so on. These are choices people make and there can be a lot of creative thinking going into these choices but circumstances and conditions, lack of opportunity can deny people the joy of creativity and the recognition of what it means. Therefore I believe a stepping stone approach to living a fuller creative life can be developed not only through the established institutes of art but also “out of the seemingly ordinary”.

Thinking and acting in a different language

A long story shortened. An artist I know lived in a tenement which was about to be renovated by a housing association – Part of the renovation plans was to remove the decorated cornice from the ceilings in the rooms and the removal of features unique to the interior of the building – He and his then flatmate’s refused to leave their home until guarantees were made that the decorative details remained in situ which were important to the artists environment- Flatmate’s eventually got fed up with the struggle and left – The artist refused to move and remained in flat as the rest of the building was evacuated and work went on around him. From the beginning of the conflict till the end took two years or so. During this time hundreds of letters went to and fro from the parties involved in the dispute lawyers, the housing department, the city council and so on. Through this turmoil of living in an empty building as building work went on around him the said artist was working appropriately enough on a project in Dundee, concerning the Tay Bridge Disaster.

False work

One of the suspected causes of the Tay Bridge disaster lay in faulty cassions (that is cast iron parts that hold up the structure of the bridge) One of the suggestions of why the bridge failed was false work on these components. If there was a an unsuccessful casting when making these components cracks appeared on the cassions. These cracks which could be disguised by applying a mixture of melted candle wax and iron fillings, pressed into to the cracks when the metal fillings rusted by the elements the cracks were less if not undetectable.

Where to go from here

The artist at the end of his tether with the bureaucratic letter writing process- set about taking casts of the cornice in his house using the same candle wax and metal fillings mixture mentioned above. Each little wax cast was placed into it’s own small box and one was sent to every department person and lawyer involved in the mater of the dispute.

It would take to long to go into the whole philosophy behind the action here – but when the artist changed the language from one of bureaucratic infill to one of a visual and tactile language an new avenue of communication was opened. First one of the boxes sent to the council offices created a bomb scare and an evacuation of the building. A meeting of the housing department where the object in question was placed on the centre of the table caused a committee member to resigned over the mater. The long and short of it is. The artist was allowed to keep his cornice and the integrity of his home. The council backed down from its position of – this is what is happening – to one of maybe we could come to some arrangement. Of course the council after stepping down, in the local news tried to take credit for considering the concerns of the artist but there’s nothing new there I suppose.But the message remains the same the language of art is a powerful device when applied with imagination and purpose

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