Artist’s Retreat, organised by Arts Amuse. Maselspoort Holiday Resort. Saturday, April 23, 2016.
I was invited by Arts Amuse to talk about the above 3 words at a gathering of people who make life work beautifully. Artists. Creative practitioners. Makers, and so on. This piece contains some of the conversation flowing from that circle of trust, and some which flew from my cuckoo’s nest.
Spot the difference, okay?
Which word is most important to you? I asked, after finishing the telling of a story of an erratic king, a wise beggar, and the exchange of gold between them.
Creativity, then art, then economy. No, art first, then creativity, then economy. More opinions. What about innovation? Imagination? Some debate followed.
What do these words mean? I intervened.
Something artistic created by an artist. Someone making something which is their commentary on their life experience. A product created by an artist. Anything beautiful. A re-creation of life. An artist’s creation that’s good and beautiful.
What about the art of conversation, business, relationship, etc? Is art an after-the-fact reflection on life’s pleasure and pain, or can art happen in any moment?
Industries. Sectors. Goods and services. Government, private sector, NGO sector, civil society. People working in industries. Gross Domestic Product. Transactions with money changing hands. Treadmills. Debit order sharks, returning for their monthly feeding frenzy.
What about the Greek root words oikos (house) and nomos (management, ordering)? And its not-too-distant cousin, ecology, oikos (house) + logos (a ground, plea, opinion, expectation, word, speech, account, to reason). Can there be any move towards sustainable economy without more balance and increasing wisdom within ecology? Is economy only about money? Is ecology only about ‘green’ matters? Is nature part of culture? Is culture part of nature?
Round and round the discussion went.
Imagining something new or in a new way. Taking the raw material you have and planning something new. Generating new ideas for products, services, things etc. which hold potential value. Thinking about something new and worthwhile.
Greek creo = to create, make.
Where is creativity required in life? Any sectors or industries in society which do not require creativity? Does creativity stop at ideas, or remain relevant throughout production?
Creative problem formulation is key … And very few are taught how to creatively formulate problems or challenges. Most education systems formulate problems FOR people, with the answer being at the back of the book. And don’t look!
Ramon, a 14 year-old boy, liked his father’s guitar. The father sold the guitar just as Ramon was starting to teach himself. Ten years later, Ramon bought his own guitar, and struggled, this time around. He went through a number of teachers, before he found his master. The master got him to unlearn all his previous mannerisms and sell his expensive guitar.
Buy something cheap. I’ll teach you to make it sound wonderful, the master said.
The young man bought a cheap, second-hand guitar, and after 3 years’ diligent practice, just as he was starting to make it sound good, he lost his job. Couldn’t afford tuition anymore. Wanted to keep growing. In stead of learning new classical and flamenco pieces, he wrote lyrics for the pieces he had mastered. Started singing the words. More lyrics came, and he allowed himself to create melodies. Busking followed, and then some gigs. 7 years after walking into the master’s studio, he grouped 12 of his songs, to start working towards his first album …
How does art, economy and creativity feature in the guitar boy’s story?
Play, with children
Anita played with her 3 year-old daughter, Maria. A game of the imagination. Green pins became frogs and Maria turned a red cloth into a monster.
Rrraaa, I’m going to eat all the froggies, she growled.
Rrribit, no! I want to feed you in a different way, Nora replied to her daughter’s advance.
In that instant, as Nora’s survival instinct kicked in, a story was born about a creative frog and a hungry, angry monster with an identity crisis. She wrote the first draft, and told the story to little Maria at bed time. In stead of pacifying her daughter, as stories usually did, this story caused her to bounce up and down on her bed. The next day, Nora crafted an interactive children’s play around the story. Created basic costumes and props for the characters. Started performing the play at pre and primary schools. Submitted an application to a local arts festival. Successful. Wrote an activity book from the story, which she started marketing from school to school, along with the original play …
Art? Economy? Creativity?
And then she wept words
Melanie’s growing years revolved around two major themes: victimisation at school and her sleeping beauty at home. Mother’s sleeping induced by the golden juice. Mel learned to fit in nowhere. When she was 24, sleeping beauty entered the Last Sleep, and Melanie chose running over crying. She ran for 12 years, non-stop, before suffering a complete breakdown. After a few days, she started weeping words until her story was complete. She shared the story, free of charge, for around three years, with thousands of people. Some started paying money for her story, also for Melanie’s services as inspirational speaker. She learned to fit in anywhere, and kept on writing.
A? E? C?
Our discussion turned back
to the 3 original words again, and whether one is more important than the other.
Could art, economy and creativity be part of a cycle? Doesn’t matter where you start in the cycle, they flow from and to each other? And that they all need each other? Are they separate or together? Both?
Back to our erratic king,
the beggar, and their exchange of gold. How art, economy, creativity were woven into and from this story.
Ended off with the making of a song, and some Q & Q. We tried to stay away from Q & A …
Before I left, Maselspoort’s lovely food and drink fueled more cheerful conversation, with Mangaung’s autumn blue, yellow, red, brown and green wrapping around us.
Thank you to Rita and Khonzeka from Arts Amuse, for inviting me to your gathering.