State of the Arts – an internal sense of direction

Victoria Ward
Victoria Ward

Don’t worry, be happy

The night of Friday 13th, with a full moon I stood on the bank of a river in Holmfirth, Yorkshire listening to music and watching impromptu projections on a four hundred year old wall. It wasn’t a fantastic display to be honest however the context, the night, the wall and the fact that I was coming to the end of an enormous sojourn of work over here had me getting thoughtful.

I haven’t been paying attention to this blog for various reasons, one of them the lack of time I have of late to sit and write something that was good. I am finally inspired… by the moon? the trip? the midges that dined on me?

Lately I have been wondering what I am doing with this excessive input; week after week ranting on about how things have to change. I love the written word and want to be part of its universal seductions. The act of falling in love is not unlike falling into a book or a bit of great writing isn’t it? So it can be with art but sometimes I begin to falter. I stumble when defending the making of art as I am disappointed in an ongoing manner to which I can only attribute to either a) I’m old b) a lot of art does really stink c) I am losing interest in what is out there and need to be jolted by something d) I spend just too much time thinking about it or e) all of the above. Sorry for the multiple choice, several of my evenings over here have been spent at a very enjoyable pub quiz.

Yorkshire based artist Bob Clayden documents Bituminous Illuminations at the National Coal Mining Museum.
Yorkshire based artist Bob Clayden documents Bituminous Illuminations at the National Coal Mining Museum.

My current and temporary state of ennui might be because I am currently missing my studio. My creative time. I would think that this is inevitable when you are traveling and confined to working on the business of creativity and not the actual making of stuff. But then you meet someone like my artist friend Bob Clayden who is creative every second of the day. Always with several camera’s in hand, driving us to art exhibition after art exhibition he is in (stopped counting after the one on a path around a reservoir, could there have been a more wondrous place for art??? ) Bob is doing something creative all the time. He has a pedigree of Marxists & anarchists (they showered Marx’s grave with his grandfather’s ashes) and he is truly one of the funniest & irreverent guys you will meet. We are besties for life!

I am suddenly filled with great optimism because being around Bob makes one realize that creativity is a force that flows through us. Bob is not waiting for it to ‘happen’, he just makes it happen all the time. I recently reread my art statement (exhibiting/grant deadlines are generally the only time you revisit these) and realized that this actual thought is right on my statement. It reads “Through art I have come to realize that creativity is a force that flows through the world, and those who harness it are people aware of their mortality.” I wrote that over thirteen years ago!

Hot & hungry (notice sandwich bag) & ignoring the London biz type who couldn't care less about my photo op - I honour Captain Scott who perhaps shouldn't have gone anywhere near the Antarctic but he dared to dream. Do you?
Hot & hungry (notice sandwich bag) & ignoring the London biz type who couldn’t care less about my photo op – I honour Captain Scott who perhaps shouldn’t have gone anywhere near the Antarctic but he dared to dream. Do you?

You forget sometimes that in fact you do have an internal sense of direction in life.A sort of sun dial for destiny. Ignoring our instincts is part of why we forget this. We get depressed, unsure of ourselves and down right blue only to realize, if we are lucky, that we have the strength, hope and brightness to seek out what we need.

A very sweaty moment in London near St. James Park at the foot of a statue of Captain Scott, one of my childhood heroes, ( made by his widow no less) struck me as the perfect symbol of this thinking; it is an act of great daring to find ourselves and recognize that dial inside us. Like polar exploration, being creative can be foolhardy with huge potential for failure; the label of hero happens much later, make the world your studio today.

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