I realise that my playfulness, creative process and the art I produce have similar threads to Dada and I can relate to the ‘readymades’ Marcel Duchamp and his peers brought into the art arena. Whether it is a security alarm, empty rope holder, mechanism on a sewing machine, basket-ball net, door lock or tin-opener, I seem to find a character within it – a face which has a story to tell. I feel compelled to playfully manipulate the images using Procreate on my iPad, and as I do so, the wordsmith within me kicks in and a narrative follows.
Facing the future 37 – how can you not laugh when you see this face with its distorted bulbous nose? This little character however was obviously having a bad day. Not only was it struggling with an exaggerated Pinocchio-like proboscis (obviously had been lying about how much chocolate it had eaten), but it was collecting the contents of it! In reality, it was just a light on the side of a house. But when you start seeing eyes, noses and mouths, it’s hard to see the object’s original purpose. May be it’s just me going a little mad. As an 18 year old, I was a young reporter at the local newspaper and spent hours in council chambers, silently tuned in to political debate, waiting to take down an interesting quote. In my mind however,I was playfully crawling underneath the tables and tying all the councillors’ shoe laces together. Never underestimate playfulness, it is an important survival tool. I can vouch that playfulness has been my friend when situations have ‘snot’ been funny.
When we consider the word ‘creativity’ the issue of originality or novelty comes in. Years ago, it was considered that someone in the arts, was given a muse or genius to help them. They could not take credit for it because it was a given to them by something higher than themselves. In the Renaissance, man took the centre stage and he was considered the genius. But that meant pressure to keep creating those masterpieces. J.R.R.Tolkien however, referred to being a sub-creator. He believed everything was created by God, but he could sub-create something, adding to what was already created. When I find objects and then change them in some way, can I really claim that my work is original? The objects themselves were created by someone else, yet by adding my own experience, skill and idea to it, I co-create to produce something different. The same, yet different. I have merely expressed my inner thoughts about what I can see and taken it from my mind and manifest it as an image, which can also have other meanings, depending on what my social media audience perceive it as.
Creativity for me is such a key part of what I do, I cannot easily identify it. Connecting with creation, the outside world, and re-creating something or co-creating with an idea that has already been expressed. Personally, I do have a faith in God, and therefore connecting with the ultimate Creator, is important and I find myself in that joyful, thankful place when I am in that creating space. The playfulness aspect is about connecting to the inner child and allowing that child-like wonder, sense of fun, curiosity, mischief to be expressed whether it is through my illustration, words or in the way I interact with people. Producing art work and connecting with an audience, allows that creativity to be expressed beyond myself to others who may or not relate. It not only connects me to the world around me, but it connects me to history as I learn from those who have gone before me and realise I am part of something bigger. When I am creating my own images, I am not thinking ‘is this good or bad?’ I am simply enjoying the process, allowing the child within me to play, investigate the world around me with inquisitive eyes, often captivated by the surprise elements that pop up during the process, then stopping to look at what I have done. It is almost as if I then stop being the artist/co-creator and become the onlooker, and by doing so, start to see something else, a deeper understanding, that I hadn’t appreciated during the making of the piece. I become the adult trying to decipher what the child has produced and surprise myself by profound insight I discover. It is this friction between art/reality and the seen/unseen.
Whilst I may have a playful spirit, I find that playfulness does not kick in straight away. Producing art is hard and laborious sometimes. There is a battle, a wrestling with the materials, a frustration in not getting something as you want it. I recall making this piece of work, an artist’s book. As the definition of creativity suggests, it followed a repeated action – it was a result of a repeated exercise in creating different artist books using the same process. Each were different, yet used traditional materials – hardboard, paper and thread for the Japanese binding. I had finished a body of work, but at midnight, I remember clearly thinking, ‘what if I use Rivita and cheese instead of board and paper?’ It was in the ‘what if’ moment, that my playfulness got the better of me, and that sheer inquisitiveness and excitement in ‘will this work?’ drove me forward. As I completed it, immediately the words ‘Reader’s Digest’ came to mind. It was the best book I created and was accepted in the Book Art exhibition at the University of the West of England, Bristol.