Friday, January 06, 2012

Why am I doing what I do?

I unexpectedly came across something I'd written in 2005 on the blog. It was very thought provoking and I thought it wouldn't go amiss to include it again with a few additions having moved on in the intervening years! I was interested to see though that my thoughts on the subject today haven't changed very much in six plus years!

'What drives you to create......' At the time I got involved in researching Artist's Statements as I needed to have one for my work on site. My knowledge on this subject  multiplied fourfold. In fact on one Site I was able with the judicious inclusion of a few well chosen adverbs to get an artist's statement written for me.

Valeri Bennett's work investigates the nuances of modulations through the use of slow motion and close ups which empathise the generative nature of digital media. Bennett explores abstract and liberating scenery as motifs to describe the idea of infinite reality. Using fulfilling loops, non-linear narratives, and interactive images as patterns, Bennett creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of space.....

Sounds good doesn't it but what the hell does it mean? You can have four guesses as to the words that I suggested! Grin

Anyway after a good time was had by all playing with the concepts I actually got back to the subject in hand. Firstly I chose my five words to describe creativity. They were: colourful, satisfying, meaningful, necessary and liberating. This is the order that they came to me but if I had to put them in order of importance then I would put them in this order: necessary, liberating, satisfying, meaningful and colourful. Its interesting (to me anyway) that my first thought was of colour as colour rocks my boat and yet it came last in order of importance. From a very early age I was encouraged to be creative. My grandmother was a milliner and it was she who taught me to make silk ribbon roses and other 3-dimensional designs. My great-aunt had been a court dressmaker and she was the one who gave me scraps of delicious fabrics and started me down the road to ruin! To this day I HAVE to have fabric to look at and touch! My glee when at the age of six I made a doll's jacket in green velvet, complete with tiny set in sleeves, knew no bounds. I was hooked! My mother let me use her old treadle sewing machine to make dolls clothes and then clothes for me. Dolls were a pain to me and only good for clothing. I was forever cutting their hair off and expecting it to grow so they were always bald manniquins. Lucky for some that I didn't have designs on being a hair-dresser! From this early start came my desire to create. I couldn't be doing with bought patterns and made things up as I went along. And then I went to Art School. My eyes were opened, my cup ran over! One of my subjects was woven textiles and that streak of indepence was still with me. I didn't want to buy already dyed wool for weaving, I had to dye my own and I never looked back. That first rya rug I made is still on my floor forty years later - a bit worn but still looking good and the colours are still bright and strong. Orange, blue and green and bright at that. I dyed several shades of each colour and then blended the wools together so as to get a mixture of colour. From that time on colour has been the engine that drives my creativity and yet it isn't the most important aspect. It is absolutely essential that I am being creative even if its baking a cake or making up a salad. It is also essential that the process is liberating. It has to free me from this mortal coil....allow me to get away from everyday hiatuses and yet at the same time be satisfying and meaningful. This can apply to anything creative and I would get the same buzz if it was in black and white but colour adds the icing on the cake for me. My preferred medium is fibre because I love the look and feel of fabric. The way it can change depending on what is done to it. How one moment it can be ethereal and the other down to earth and heavy! It can be cut, stitched, folded, pleated, draped, etc etc. And fibre can mean fabric, ribbon or yarn. What I do know is that if I was deprived of all my 'arty' things and my sewing machine I would slowly die inside unless I was able to channel my visions into other mediums. But they wouldn't be the same. It is very nice to make money from one's art but on the other hand the art comes first. Commissions are great but I have to identify with the subject matter. In my case if I try to create with money in mind it doesn't work! This is why I teach because I like to pass on what I have learnt in a life-time of 'sewing' and get paid for doing so. This enables me on the whole to make things because I want to and enjoy the process. The 'what if ' factor is always strong.  This  has made me think deeply about why I do what I do.It liberates me!

But I'd be much happier if I had a bigger workroom and could see all my fabric at once! Grin!

So let me ask all of you who read this blog...why do you create?


  1. How fascinating to hear about the roots of your creativity. My neighbour was telling me about her granddaughter, who has inherited music from both parents. I HATE sewing, but I did enjoy knitting because I made it up as I went along. My poor little wooden Dutch doll sits as she was made, unclothed ;~)

  2. I really loved the link and my "artist's statement" was equally meaningless but very impressive! Like you, I have always loved textiles, but until recently I felt I needed a "pattern" to follow in order to make things. Now I'm making things to my own designs, just to prove to myself that I can. That is the motivation that's making me start out on what is for me, a hard road.