So I went to the Spike Island open weekend, and realised that I don’t feel like I am using all of my creative potential. I am not completely satisfied with my lot in life.
What to do?
The answer was obvious. Use my Alexander Technique toolkit, and bring my reasoning processes to bear upon the problem. Make a plan.
Analyse the conditions present.
This is where I am at just at present. I have been thinking about what it is that I currently do, and what thngs I don’t do that would be good for me.
To begin: things I am doing.
1. Recorder. I am playing in my quartet Pink Noise. We meet and rehearse most weeks, and are preparing new music.
2. Singing. I am having singing lessons, and loving them. They inspire me.
3. Writing. I am writing my main blog every week, and this one occasionally (more occasional than I would like or had planned, sadly…).
Things I am not doing, or not doing enough.
1. Practice. I don’t do enough of this, either with voice or recorder, and it isn’t systematic. I read a wonderful blog post on practice recently by a sports psychologist who specialises in working with musicians. What I have come to realise is that, while my music teachers taught me how to play my instruments in a moderately technically correct manner, I was never taught how to practice. I was just told to do it. I could write more about this now, but I have a feeling it is a whole blog post in itself.
2. Writing. By which I mean, writing that isn’t related to Alexander Technique. From childhood, I have written. I have felt compelled to write. Poetry, plays, tv scripts, puppet shows… I dabbled in lots of stuff when younger. Then I wrote a dissertation and stopped writing a,together afterwards. Ouch.
3. Visual art. I consider myself to be truly rubbish at visual art. But when I was in high school we were introduced to Lino and screen printing, and I loved them. I’ve always had a lingering desire to do them again.
4. Exercise. Seem like an odd thing to put on a list of creativity? Maybe. But I think it’s really important to have some sort of physical outlet during a day. It’s a great way of taking your brain away from being stuck and allowing it to range free. And it helps me feel good too. In those erodes where I have done regular exercise, I have been generally happier and more productive.
So that’s the list so far of all the things I do and don’t do. The next step? To think about why I want to be creative in the first place. What is it that I want to achieve? What is my goal?
And what about you reading this? Have you done a creative audit lately? If so, tell me about it.
One of the highlights of the year, creatively speaking, in Bristol is when Spike Island has its Open weekend.
Spike is an old tea factory that got turned into artists’ studios. Some truly amazing people work in that building, like Richard Hames and John de Mearns. This year we took the Youngster along, and he absolutely loved looking at all the amazing works of art on display.
Yep, I loved it too.
I have to confess it also left me feeling, frankly, a little down. A bit creatively frustrated, I guess.
The clincher came when one of the artists told us that he loved his job, and couldn’t think of anything he’d rather do. He loves coming to work each day.
I came away from the day wondering about my relationship to that sort of statement. Don’t get me wrong: I love teaching Alexander technique. I really do love my job. It gives me great joy to see students expanding their horizons.
So why do I feel so envious of that artist? What am I missing in my life?
It leads me to think that , though FM Alexander said that teachers of his work should have “the eye of an artist”, sometimes one needs to do more than teach to satisfy that eye. And when, as I believe, doing Alexander’s work actually enhances your creativity, it seems logical that it would become necessary to explore other creative outlets.
So I now have an interesting problem to ponder. How am I going to deal with this creative frustration?
Today we went on a family trip to Wookey Hole. The caves themselves are fantastic - stunningly beautiful and very atmospheric. (And this in spite of the fact that the people running the tourist attraction tried to spice it up with bad music tracks and witches’ laughter)
Much of the cave tour takes you through naturally formed cave formations. Our guide told us that the natural chambers were formed by the flow of the River Axe through the limestone, and probably took around a million years to be created.
In order to provide easy access to a couple of chambers that were previously only accessible to divers, in the mid 20th century tunnels were blasted through the rock. Apparently it took 5 months, blasting twice each day, to create the tunnels that join up the chambers.
The natural formations are jagged. The ceilings are low. The floor is uneven. They are inconvenient. But they are beautiful.
In the man-made tunnels the walls are more smooth, the ceiling height taller, the floor more even. They are safe, functional, convenient… and utterly boring.
The difference between the two types of cave led me to think about the relationship between fast and functional, versus slow and beautiful. Obviously it is possible to create something quickly that is also very beautiful - there are many examples of artists creating works of tremendous significance in a sort of white heat of creativity.
But so often what is done quickly is also done purely for functionality, and beauty is lost. Maybe sometimes we should allow ourselves the luxury of time, so that the stream of creativity can work its magic on our limestone heads. We may not even have to wait a million years!