Monday, September 18, 2006

Loving Everyone's Work

I've been thinking a lot today about the creative urge, wondering if the person next to me in the Co-op queue is a secret poet, or painter, or if he makes secret sculptures from his Smash over dinner.

Over the past few months, I've had every expectation shattered that artists are intellectuals (pretty much always with berets) who devote their predominantly penniless existence to the perfection of their creative preference. I know, there are so many examples of famous artists, be they actors, writers, artists, singers or whichever, who do not conform to this stereotype, but I've easily dismissed most of them under Hicks' rule of advertising, thus:

"Do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you're a corporate whore and eh, end of story."

Exactly. There aren't many writers who conform to this rule, but where writing is concerned, I think in the main if you let Jennifer Lopez - or any of her commercial ilk - star in the movie of your masterpiece (in fact, if your masterpiece becomes a movie, rather than a, preferably independent, film) you're probably in this category too. Yes, it will be humiliating if I have to eat this blog in ten years time, but I'm a purist, so I doubt it.
So, what challenged my intellectual beret wearing, one-eared artist stereotype, and thus liberated me to think that I could be a writer just by, well, writing my truth, was the best lesson of all. Life showed me different and proved me wrong.

Carl, who works in my office, at Portsmouth City Council, is an artist. He paints the most amazing pictures of flowers (amongst other things) that have more emotion inherent within them than Gwyneth Paltrow at an awards ceremony. Dave Kemp, who works at Central Library as a library assistant is an illustrator, he creates these beautiful images and animations: Check out the haunting Dr Gladpole's Machine, I watched it for the first time yesterday, for the second time today, and I'll probably watch it again tomorrow. Cheryl Missing, who runs Portsea Library, writes children's stories (I've worked with the woman for almost three years and I didn't find that out until last Tuesday - amazing what you can find out when you ask!). Paul Raven, also of Central Library, writes science fiction and is also a blog writer. My best friend Kitty Kat Kate (below right) is an artist of gentle and powerful experimental images and the crafter of lamps, wall hangings and wind-chimes. What that girl can't do with a piece of wire and a bit of copper isn't worth making. My mum makes toys, clothes, cards, glass painting (see image left) and most recently, paper flowers. My uncle is a poet and thinks nobody knows (Bean, you've been outed). These are just the friends who spring to mind.

Why have I spent so long thinking that creativity is the unique privilege of an exceptional few, when everyone has a truth unlike anyone else's and a thousand and one ways that they are longing to express it? I think part of it is the mystique we give to artists in our culture, so that we remove it from the 'everyday' - how many people at school were told they were no good at art and have never drawn or painted since (guilty as charged myself on that one). I was told my sentences were too long and that I never used a sentence when a paragraph would do. OK, that was true, but lots of people now find that endearing! Mostly because I tell them it's art, but it still counts.
So pick up the pen. Pick up the brush (seriously, your hair looks awful). Create. Sing. Do it now. I don't care if you're in the office, I don't care if it's a doodle. Just do it. Do it now. Then mail it to me. Let's start a creative revolution from the roots up. OK, I'm leaping on that bandwagon a little late, MySpace got there before me. It's the message not the messenger that counts.

And check out these people's lovely labours:
Mr Gladpole's Machine, David Kemp

And his beautiful website:

Paul in Velcro-City

And the beautiful Lisa Clark, without whom.....

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