an artists' view

an artists' view

Saturday, 26 June 2010


I read this article in the Observer of 20.06.10.
It comes in the magazine, as part of their 'School of Life; Ideas for Modern Living' series.
This one was called 'Creativity'. I thought it might be interesting to write it up here.

'Blue-sky thinking, finding the inner you...if you look up "creativity" on the net you'll be bombarded with sites to help you get in contact with your creative potential. I blame Joseph Beuys, that modern art guru of fat and felt, who claimed: "Everyone is an artist". We all feel we have something to say. But do we? Beuys didn't mean everyone has the potential to be a Picasso: he believed in the power of universal human creativity to bring about revolutionary change.

The psychoanalysts had a different take. Hanna Segal saw art as an expression of the depressive position and the task of the artist as creating another reality where the artist mourns for lost relationships and experiences that have given meaning to life. Segal cites Proust who, on meeting some long-lost friends, saw how frivolous they had become. Realising that his former world no longer existed he set about recreating that of the dying and the dead.
Art becomes a form of mourning.

For Melanie Klein, art was a form of reparation for destructive infantile rage against the abandoning mother.
For phsychiatrist Anthony Storr, meanwhile, reflective solitude was an essential component.
The cliche that genius is akin to madness is not so far off. Artists, particularly poets, suffer from a high rate of depressive illness.
So, no - creativity is not about "blue-sky thinking" but about destruction and loss, transformed into art through arduous creative process.
Sue Hubbard'

Does this mean that Westgate Studios, where I have my studio, is a seething cauldron of mourning, loss, depression, and rage?
I think the most important part of the article is the last sentence, referring to the transfomative power of arduous creative process.
Creativity is a crucible, where we can transform experiences that have formed us. This is why I like to look at other artists' work. Whether I 'like' them or not is irrelavent. I look for the process the artist has undergone, in order to get to the 'completed' artwork.

Berenice, in the studio opposite mine, has given me a wonderful quote from the poet Seamus Heaney. I'll copy that up and put it up here. It gives an insight into creativity from the 'inside' as it were; from the viewpoint of the practitioner.
That's what the Observer article lacks; an insider's view. Interesting as the psychonauts comments are, they are not artists, so don't have the experience from the inside.

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