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Take Five with Katy Cowan

Posted on 12 August, 2019 at 4:55 Comments comments (0)



The fabulous Katy Cowan is the mastermind behind one of my favourite websites, Creative Boom. This is an online magazine containing a wealth of information, tips and inspiration about all things creative. Everything about the site from the ease of navigation, to the fabulous visuals, to the informative blogs, is infused with Katy's commitment to and love of all things creative, which she champions with expertise and enthusiasm. And she does all this on top of her day job, running Boomerang, a digital agency in Manchester!


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?


Constantly learn. I work in the creative industries and that means I get to be creative and always learn new things. As creative fields are crossing over so much these days and everything is becoming so much more collaborative, I not only get the wonderful opportunity to expand my skills but I get to understand projects from all kinds of different perspectives. I love looking back and seeing how far I've come, but also the endless possibilities of how far I could go in future. It's a very exciting time to be creative.


Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?


This is a tough one. There are so many people I admire. I would have to say Vivian Maier for some seriously wonderful street photography. I love the work of Kim Stanley Robinson - he's a science fiction writer and 'Red Mars' is an absolute classic. Jil Sander for fashion simplicity at its best. I'm bowled over by Naughty Dog and their recent The Last Of Us computer game - absolutely epic visuals and gaming experience - and zombies too! What more could you want!


What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?


I'm not sure I can answer this question. Because I've always been a very determined, self-driven character who 'makes things happen'. Plus all the mistakes I've ever made have only led onto greater things. I guess I'd probably tell myself to spend less time sweating the small stuff. 


If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?


Down tools and get outside to seek inspiration elsewhere. I might grab my camera and just spend an hour walking around Manchester, doing some street photography. Or I might go to an art gallery to see other people's work. By taking a step away from my desk and doing something creative other than writing (which is essentially my job) my mind becomes uncluttered, I can re-focus and I have a renewed sense of energy and ideas.


And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?


I'd probably be a multi-coloured Converse trainer. Because they're a comfortable, dependable, laid-back kind of shoe but with a little fun, quirkiness and personality.


Links:

https://www.creativeboom.com

https://www.boomerangpr.com

Take Five with Susan Clare

Posted on 31 July, 2019 at 4:30 Comments comments (1)


Susan Clare is an artist working in watercolours, acrylics and mixed media. She has the enviable lifestyle of splitting her time between England and Jamaica and this can be seen in a duality of her work. On the one hand, Susan captures the vivid sights, colours and atmosphere of the Carribbean, whilst on the other, she conjures up the subtlety and charm of the English countryside. The constant thread throughtout her work, aside from its skill and beauty, is  Susan's deep love of and commitment to nature, which she describes as being "immersed in the mystery of the natural world". Her work has won several awards and can be found in private collections in Jamaica, the Caribbean, England, USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and Iceland.


Susan also teaches and runs workshops when she is in the UK. She is the resident tutor at the Butterfly Arts studio in Terling and runs her own fortnightly workshops at HOFS in Hadleigh, Essex. She also runs full day workshops for the RHS Hyde Hall and for Arts and Craft Days. She is available for talks and painting demos for art clubs.


Her latest exhibition is a group show, 'Beyond Plastic' at the Minories Gallery in Colchester (3rd to 29th August) and is "an exploration of our relationship with plastic and the harm it is causing in our environment." 


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?


As a professional, the moment when you see that flash of excitement in a viewer’s eyes – whether as a student or a collector, and you know that your painting has connected with them on an emotional level.

 

As a painter, there is nothing to beat becoming totally immersed in the mystery of the creative process and time flies by without my awareness of it.

 


Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

 

My next door neighbour and mentor in Jamaica, Jannette Eyles, is a fabulous sculptor and painter, who trained at the RA and has work in the collection of Her Majesty, The Queen. Apart from allowing me to paint from her studio for months, when I started to paint full time, in 1997, she imparted the invaluable habit of starting the creative day with a walk in the garden and a meditation (Blue Mountain Coffee to hand, of course). Amongst other programs, we have both worked through Julia Cameron’s, ‘The Artist’s Way’, more than once, when in need of a creative boost. (Is that cheating? I’ve got two heroines there!)



What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?


Don’t paint to chase the market or what you think people want to see – paint from the heart and find an emotional connection with every piece of work.



If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?


Take ten deep breaths and get centred, then ask myself, “What’s the core message, what’s important, here?” Usually this boils down to remembering to focus on appreciating and connecting with the natural world, respect for life, respect for each other. Focusing on those core motives for a few minutes, has the potential to dissolve any artistic block, (not to mention setting the whole world to rights, too!)



And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

 

A hand-made Jamaican sandal – unique but friendly, casual and fun, made for fresh air, an outdoor life and lots of walking, ready to slip off for a quick dip in the sea!


Links:

https://www.susanclare.art/home

https://www.susanclare.art/events

https://www.susanclare.art/events/2019/8/3/beyond-plastic-exhibition-at-the-minories

Take Five with Melanie J Hodge

Posted on 29 July, 2019 at 5:55 Comments comments (0)



Melanie J Hodge is a US born, British based painter who works with oils on glass in a reverse technique she was introduced to while living in Croatia. These are delightful and beautiful works in the Naïve style and she also offers workshops so that people can learn this technique themselves. She is a mother of two, whose son has autism with associated special learning needs and whose daughter has asthma, so Melanie needs a lot of flexibility when it comes to being at home and available at short notice. This helps to give context to her Artist Statement:


"My work explores my quest for self, sanity and creative expression against the demands of daily life. Drawing on landscapes known and dreams imagined, with spiraling stars and flowers that bloom out of season, my paintings are both my escape from the world and my strength within it."


As a result of her own experiences, Melanie also founded Creative Carers in 2014, which offers workshops and mini-respite for Parent Carers, Partner Carers, Adult Sibling Carers, Professional Carers, and those who have recently had caring roles.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?


I never wanted to suffer for my art, so when parenting responsibilities consumed my life it was easier to put my art making aside than to pursue it. Only that made me suffer in a different way. So, the very best thing about what I do today is that it works with the rest of my life, integrating my art making ambitions with my caring responsibilities in ways that are manageable and make sense for me.


I know it’s a bit crazy when you realise what goes into my paintings - but the very fact that I work on glass, in slow drying oils, in time consuming details, also means that I can drop my paintbrush for the school run or to nurse a fever, and come back hours later to wet paint without ill effects. Finding a medium that fit with my everyday life literally saved my sanity, while working in a naive tradition allows me to freely obsess about those things which make me happiest when I paint. As an extra bonus, the way I work allows me to separate a painting into many stages, allowing for an infinite number of short painting sessions which develop over many months without losing their magic. After years of frustration, I have found a way of expressing myself that adds more joy than stress to my world and everyday I am grateful for this gift.


Even better, I get to share my passion and skills with others - introducing naive art to new audiences, teaching snail-slow reverse oil on glass techniques in a fast moving world, supporting carers to share their knowledge and experiences with each other during Creative Carer workshops, and encouraging unconfident artists to take pleasure in the process of what they do and pride in their work. Helping others to gain confidence in their unique creative voice can be life-changing and these activities give my practice meaning far beyond the paintings I make.



Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?


The two artists I am most besotted with at the moment are Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington. I am inspired by their confidence and dedication in pursuing their own artistic visions, for their independence of spirit in living unconventional lives, and for putting so much of themselves into their artwork. Between Frida’s magic realism and Leonora’s symbol-filled surrealism I feel anything might be possible, and their biographies only reinforce this as the obstacles they faced make my troubles seem inconsequential by comparison.



What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?


I was so very lucky and someone actually gave me the most important bit of advice before I even started, “You can always come back to art.”


The person who said this to me was an art professor, who had himself done a science degree first time round. I was an undergraduate in literature, taking art classes for fun and really couldn’t see how being an artist was going to work for me so I didn’t switch courses. What I didn’t know then though, was that art would be the most portable career possible to me, and the only path on which I have ever felt most ‘me.’ His words, in time, became more than a reassurance, they became my lifeline. No matter how long the time I didn’t paint, I knew, when I was ready, I could come back. And when the opportunity arose, I seized it with both hands knowing that this time even if I didn’t know how art was going to work for me - being an artist was the only thing I wanted to work at.


So for anyone reading this, I would like to pass it on: whatever your passion is, follow it while you can and if (for whatever reason) you walk away for a bit, know you can always come back to it.



If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?


For anything difficult my mantra is, “Remember to breathe.”


No matter the situation, if I remember to breathe I know that everything else will follow, time will move on, and either the problem will resolve itself or I will find a new way to approach it. Breathing can mean all sorts of things too, not just inhaling and exhaling (though that is always the first and best place to start). For me it is about slowing the breath, calming the flight or fight response, going for a walk, seeking out clear air on the Downs, in the woods, or at the seaside, and trying something different for a bit. I’ve learned that my creative blocks are a sign of things happening under the surface, so I try to practice patience - giving the problem a bit of space, so my mind can work on it in peace, and then, when the time is right, I find the words, the colour choice, the project, will emerge ready for the next stage of development.



And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?


A Saltwater Sandal - they are simple, straightforward and stylish in an understated way. They are practically barefoot and all I need to make me feel seven years old again, on summer holiday, dancing in the sunshine and splashing in the sea.


Links:

https://mjhodgeart.co.uk

Take Five with Katie Iacovou

Posted on 18 July, 2019 at 4:35 Comments comments (0)



Katie Iacovou is a ceramicist who works with irregular forms which allow her a sense of freedom within the making process; finding beauty in the slightly wonky pieces. Hand building and coiling are used and there is a fluidity from the starting point to the finished piece.

 

Some of the textures and colours are influenced by the Cornish coastline and others by the rugged mountain tops you find in the Swiss Alps. These colours and textures are primarily shown in her organic bowl forms where the rims of the bowls are ripped and torn to achieve a rugged finish.

 

Katie completed a Studio Ceramics degree at Falmouth College of Arts, in Cornwall, then returned to London where she is originally from. Having had a long break from making due to work and family commitments she is now happily making again and working from her garden studio in London.


Katie's next exhibition is 'Land Over Sea' with my Take Five guest from last month, Laura Hepworth. It will run from 31 July-14 August at the Jeannie Avent Gallery in North Cross Road, East Dulwich, London. Laura and Katie will be taking influence from the natural beauty of the Cornish coast combining new canvases from Laura complimented by Katie's beautifully crafted ceramic bowls and sculptural pieces.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

I love the freedom it gives me. I am able to be creative in my own little space and that is a luxury. I don’t work in an office environment anymore so I don’t have anyone to answer to. I enjoy planning my own day and I set myself weekly tasks and if I don’t achieve them they get pushed onto the following week. Life is a juggle because I also have a family to look after but this is why working from home is the perfect solution for me. Also I get to touch clay everyday!


Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

Oh yes, so many to list! I love painters, potters and sculptors from the past and present. One of my biggest influences, from a young age, is Barbara Hepworth. I love how Barbara’s sculptures play nicely with space and form, and I’m particularly interested in the negative space she creates within an art piece. I also love how she combines other materials into her work, such as wire. There's something mesmerising about how Hepworth connects her large beautifully sculpted organic forms with the wire. Combining these two materials creates a beautiful space within the piece and it's this contrast between the two materials that attracts me and inspires me.


I’ve always enjoyed combining other materials with clay, such as driftwood, wire and glass and this is a direct influence from Hepworth. For me part of the joy and challenge is assembling these different materials together and connecting them to create a new art piece. Adding a piece of driftwood or metal to my vessels can completely change the overall look and the aesthetic of a piece. Other artists that have influenced me around the same time are Henry Moore and Picasso.


We also have so many amazing ceramicists but my top two are Lucie Rie and Kyra Cane.

 

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

Do what you love, if you are passionate about something then follow your heart.


Being creative makes my soul happy and I have such a deep passion for ceramics that it will always be a part of my life. Running a small business or being an artist is hard and I wish colleges and universities prepared students better for this part of running a business and not just the creative bit - although the creative bit is the bit we love doing!


I’d also say listen to your intuition and work hard towards your goals. If you are passionate about what you do then persevere and keep going no matter what ups and downs you come across. The ups and downs are part of the journey and we are always learning.


Challenges and obstacles will be put in front of you but if you truly believe in what you do then I believe you can succeed, having said that you need to put the work in. The universe won’t hand it to you!


If you hit a creative block what is your top tip for getting through it?

When this happens it’s time to walk away from you work. That’s when you need to go and do something else. It could be something mundane such as doing the chores or maybe going out for a walk around the park and being in nature. I work from home so I need to get out of the house occasionally. I’ll either go to the park or pop to the local coffee shop, and I usually bump into someone I know and stop for a quick chat. Whatever I do, I just need to forget about the creative problem, which I know can be hard. I feel that the creative side of your brain needs to be switched off by changing its focus for a while and then when your mind is relaxed, ideas eventually come to you. So, walk away is my advice.


Also when the idea does come write it down and if you don’t have a pen and paper to hand then I type it in my phone, using my ‘Notes’. I use my Notes a lot!


If you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Mmm well ideally I’d like to walk around with bare feet at home but if I have to choose a shoe I would say trainers. Comfy and ready to sprint into action if necessary!


Links:

https://www.instagram.com/katieiacovouceramics

https://twitter.com/katieiacovou

https://en-gb.facebook.com/katieiacovouceramics/

https://www.designersmakers.com/katie-iacovou

Take Five with Nicola Anthony

Posted on 9 July, 2019 at 4:45 Comments comments (0)


Nicola Anthony is a visual artist based between Dublin and Singapore, and an elected member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. In recent years she has completed three artist residencies, had a solo show at Singapore Art Museum, exhibited in the Kuala Lumpur Biennale, been invited to install public sculptures in Singapore and Los Angeles, and received accolades and recognition for her work. In 2018 she was invited by Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation to create a permanent sculpture in their public entrance. She has been practicing for fifteen years and created exhibitions and commissions for art institutions and cultural foundations in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Myanmar, USA, UK, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. She studied at Loughborough University in the UK and Central Saint Martins, (UAL).     


Using fire techniques on paper and metal alongside an innate ability to transform words into messages of profundity, her work is a journal of a thousand souls. She collects human testimonies, empowering and transforming them into contemporary art. From the playful to the heart-wrenching, each artwork is shaped by the narrative it contains.

 

In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

Sometimes being an artist is a little like being an explorer. I am hooked on finding out about new things through my art, learning other peoples stories, memories and secrets, which often become the subject of the next artwork. Having a great excuse to go to all the exhibitions and be surrounded by inspirational work is rather nice too. 

 

Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

Louise Bourgeois. Her artwork sticks in your head, and sometimes forces you to step into it, the physical experience is mysterious, unspoken, and with the tension of her family memories wrapped up in each piece. I admire her for being such a strong, determined artist, and for daring to be different. Most of all, I respect that she created such an eclectic body of work - she was not afraid to try new things and depart from the comfortable ‘niche’ that many artists can get stuck in. 

 

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

That setting yourself up as an artist is essentially setting up a one-person company. It’s tough to do, and even more difficult if, like many artists, you float out of your university studio and don’t realise this fact! As soon as I started to learn from the business world as well as the art world, I found it much easier to work with (and not begrudge) the fact that there are many elements of life as a creative that take you away from just doing the creative bit. I have always felt that this need not (and should not) change your creative nature - it can be an amazing complement to it. 

 

If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

I have recently started a new process by embracing digital. I am a real ideas person, but my timing is all wrong. The inspiration usually comes at an inopportune moment, all at once, or not at all when I need it! I love the blogging process, so, I have started using a non-public blog to jot down any inspirations or thoughts that come to me. It’s like a sketchbook really, but one that is very useful as a very searchable catalogue of thoughts and snippets of inspiration. This serves as an amazing tool to rekindle my creative process when I get stuck - I can find previous ideas or brainstorms around the issue, or just pick a starting point at random.

 

And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Something highly patterned like the amazing Yayoi Kusama polka dot shoes - they seem to possess some kind of magical power, or at least a vivid imagination that would lead to many adventures!

 


Links:

Take Five with Nicholas Fry

Posted on 3 July, 2019 at 3:25 Comments comments (0)



Nicholas Fry has a fascinating job as a Historical Advisor. An actor himself who has appeared in on stage and television, including 'Coronation Street', 'Heartbeat', 'Cold Feet' and 'The Forsyte Saga', he now also works with people creating historical pieces who need help on how things should look, what costumes should be worn, what buildings should be in a shot, etc. As the Trivia sections on IMDb attest, people get very annoyed by period inaccuracies! (There were several articles about Sunday evening favourites, 'Poldark' and 'Victoria' playing fast and loose with history.) Working with organisations such as Creative England and Shepperton Studios, Nicholas can advise and catch any potentially expensive mistakes before they reach the screen, stage or page. If you need an advisor to help with your film, play or book, you can contact Nicholas via his website.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

That the work is so varied. One day I can be advising about religious ceremonial, the next about the correct colours for an 18 century interior and the following day talking to an actor about how much Pitt the Younger drank each day! I work with art directors, photographers, exhibition designers, costume designers, production managers, writers and actors and the demands of each are very different.


Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

Peter Brook, the theatre director. I saw his hugely influential RSC production of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ when I was 14 and it taught me very early on that it’s important to strip things back to their real meaning both in terms of design and style of presentation - less is always more or to put it another way, ‘show don’t tell’.


What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

Always trust your own instincts and go with your gut reaction. While other people’s views should be heard, if you don’t follow your own creative impulses, you’ll never be really happy with the end result.


If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

Do something completely different that involves going somewhere else – a change of physical location always gives you a new perspective on a problem.


And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Easy – a Venetian ‘chopine’. These were platform shoes popular in Venice in the 15 /16 /17 centuries which could be up to 20” high – nobody’s going to miss you in those!


Links:

http://www.nicholasjohnfry.co.uk

Take Five with Laura Hepworth

Posted on 19 June, 2019 at 4:00 Comments comments (1)



Laura Hepworth is a Conceptual Artist whose work explores process through themes of creativity and connection utilising drawings, painting, printmaking, large scale sculpture and installation as a means to transform the familiarity of the everyday into what is perceived as uncanny. 

Laura graduated in 2015 from University for Creative Arts, Canterbury with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. Since then, she has been very proactive in organising exhibitions to promote her work and build her reputation, often in collaboration with others.

Laura is also an advocate for creativity for wellness, "contemplating and looking closely at the ways we utilize our own ability to be creative, in order for us to cope and manage ourselves through self-caring strategies."

Laura's next exhibition is 'Land Over Sea' with guest ceramic artist Katie Iacovou (my Take Five guest for next month). It will run from 31 July-14 August at the Jeannie Avent Gallery in North Cross Road, East Dulwich, London. Laura and Katie will be taking influence from the natural beauty of the Cornish coast combining new canvases from Laura complimented by Katie's beautifully crafted ceramic bowls and sculptural pieces.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?


The connections people make and discover within my paintings provoke a shared experience that explores new ways of seeing the world around us through my eyes. In result of that, the story telling of each piece is paramount, as it is a moment in which the process and energy of the paintings become fully exposed to the presence of energy that is channelled by our surroundings and the people present in the moment of visualisation.


Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?


This one was a hard one to crack; however, I’ve managed to narrow my list down to three artists who have played a major influence in my own creative journey and you’ll notice a pattern. These three artists have one thing in common and that is their intuition to recreate the way we envisage the natural world. In their own unique ways, redefining our own understanding of the relationships we have with the mothership, that is the natural world.

Throughout my childhood Barbara Hepworth was one of the first big names which influenced my love of doing absolutely anything creative from a very young age! Then throughout the years of studying Fine Art at university, an interdisciplinary installation artist, Tomas Saraceno blew my mind with his installation ’14 Billion’, an installation that seeps inspiration from a spider’s web and places the entire universe within a web made from 14 billion rubber bands. And finally my current heroine is Heather Day, an American abstract artist based in California, an artist whose practice consistently pushes the boundaries of the way we look at the natural world, through her sensory interpretations of what is seen and how it is felt through shape and colour.


What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?


Don’t get attached to your work. I’m still learning to tackle this one, as each piece I make I envisage as an extension of myself and it can be sad sometimes to see a particular work you love go off to live in a new home. Having said that, seeing a work go to a new home and making an impression on a person is a very special thing to witness as an artist. And each new year brings new exhibitions, so there’s lots of time and room to practice!


If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?


Having experienced my lengthiest block recently, I’ve learnt how important it is to give myself time to actually recover. Physically and mentally, for me, it’s about finding a balance between what goes on within the studio and outside of it once we leave. In the moments where I experienced a block, I looked to reconnect myself with the natural world by taking a walk to give myself a place to think, where my mind wasn’t overrun by the number of jobs I would have to get done the following day at work, or the shape or colour I wasn’t sure on using next for a piece of work.


So my top tip would be to take yourself away from whatever you’re doing, take a step back and look at your blockage, as if it’s inside a box and you’re looking at it from the outside. Give your mind the space and air to breathe. And revisit your practice when the mind is refreshed and not overthinking everything you look at. Then, and only when you’re ready, go and ask yourself all of the questions you asked yourself at the beginning of the making process. What if? When? How? But most importantly, WHY are you doing that.


And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?


Converse Trainers, are my favourite shoe in the world! Ease and unlimited comfort throughout every wear, suitable to wear with most outfits and perfect for those moments you need to run for the bus!



Links:

Take Five with Hamish Macaulay

Posted on 13 May, 2019 at 5:15 Comments comments (1)


Hamish Macaulay is a London based printmaker and painter. His work consistently features landscapes, seascapes or horizons. Combining printmaking, mixed media and digital manipulation, he layers traditional and modern techniques to create fresh perspectives. 


I met Hamish through our joint involvement with ArtCan, a charitable arts organisation that supports emerging and established artists through profile raising activities, philanthropic events and exhibitions. In his work, he brings together the coastal and mountain influences of his background growing up in New Zealand with brutalist and modernist structures of his current home in London.


He has exhibited work in galleries in London and around the UK, and also in New Zealand.



In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

I have just made the jump from being a full-time graphic designer for advertising (and part-time artist) to becoming a full-time artist. Now I can spend all of my time creating art instead of it being a second job done at night and on weekends. I've noticed that since becoming full-time the speed of evolution and production of my art has increased exponentially without the interruptions I had before. I'm so much happier now that I don't have to spend my day working for clients in an agency whilst wishing I was in my studio creating my own art.



Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

Not sure I could narrow it down to one, but I could give you a list. I love the work of NZ artists Ralph Hotere for his amazing painting and installation work. Gordon Walters for his forward-thinking design-driven paintings featuring abstractions of Maori motifs during the 50s-70s. Colin McCahon for his landscapes and integration of type into his paintings. There's also artists such as Gerhard Richter, Rothko and Mondrian, and architects/designers Erno Goldfinger and Le Corbusier, who have all been inspirational to me throughout my life. The list goes on...



What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

Sketch down every idea that comes to you at the time. When your head is full of ideas and you don't scribble it down it will disappear. Sketch books are a great source of future inspiration too.



If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

I haven't suffered from a creative block yet – I have more ideas going on in my head than I have time to develop them. I guess if I did hit a block, I would go back through my sketch books and find an idea I never had the chance to pursue, and evolve that. Usually when I start a new project, the single idea I had started with brings about 10 other ideas or variations that I want to try.



And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Type of shoe, hmmm... I think I would be a jandal (you call them flip-flops). Just the thing to stay cool on a hot summers day. And easy to kick off to jump into the sea. I'm lucky enough to currently have a pair that have a bottle opener built into them, so that's a plus on the versatility stakes.


Links:

https://hamishmacaulay.com

https://www.artcan.org.uk

Take Five with Jessica Mogridge

Posted on 17 April, 2019 at 4:15 Comments comments (0)



Jessica Mogridge is a musician, playing the oboe and cor anglais with many of the leading orchestras both in the UK and internationally. She has played for leading West End musiclals, in prisons and with a cutting edge trio, Pipers 3. She is a teacher and through her work in that area, has focussed on preparing for performance. This led her to train as a coach, working with performers of all disciplines to help them combat nerves and performance anxiety, allowing them to realise their potential.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?


The SINGLE best thing about what I do is the variety. As a self-employed person I find all sorts of opportunities come my way. Playing the oboe has opened up the world for me in a way that I didn’t forsee. I’d never have considered going to Hong Kong, let alone the possibility of living there for 3 years which I did in my 20s. I’ve done tours to China, Japan, Qatar, even Siberia, AND I’ve been part of a production of the Tempest at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney, wearing full costume and body make up. I love the fact that I’m able to make a living in such an unusual way, particularly unusual in that instance!


Do you have a creative hero/ heroine, and if so, why?


Yes. Kate Bush. She’s a one off. She has her own style and her voice is extraordinary. She has artistic integrity, she uses literature as inspiration, always putting herself in other people’s shoes because “other people are more interesting than me” (her words). She experiments with sound, collaborating amongst others with a Bulgarian singing trio, Nigel Kennedy and a viol consort: nothing is off limits to her. I saw her in concert a few years ago. She imitated bird song live on stage. Convincingly. There aren’t many artists who could carry that off. The only thing that bothers me is that it’s so difficult to sing along with her because her voice is so extraordinary and mine isn’t.


What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?


I suppose what might have been (and still would be) useful is Rule no 3) of the rules for life from “Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination” by Helen Fielding - “no-one is thinking about you, they’re thinking about themselves, just like you”. That would have been useful to have heard. I’m not sure though, that that really counts as advice, as I think advice is someone telling you to do something. And I’m not sure I’d have taken any advice! Someone said to me just as I was leaving music college and starting to establish myself in the music profession to work out how much money I need to survive and only take on enough work to cover my bills, so that I still have time to practise. I’ve really stuck to that. All the stuff I’ve learnt as a musician, all the resilience to keep going in spite of inevitable rejections, how to be employable, how to find work etc, I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. I’ve always been someone who learns by doing: I typically do very little research and discover by feeling my way. But that bit of advice has stood me in good stead. It’s kept me prioritising my playing.


If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?


Keep going. If it feels pointless, do the smallest amount that you need to do, a “snapshot” amount of work. Then you’re maintaining the discipline of creativity, and the spark will re-emerge when it’s ready. Also, take time off! I find if I have time off and am at home with time to potter about doing everyday stuff I start having more and more ideas, and if I’m busy working my brain is too cluttered with logistics so there’s no room for anything else.


If you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?


I actually think I own the shoe that is me - or very similar anyway... Suede. Almost a court shoe, but softer and a wedge. Comfortable, but not too comfortable. Elegant, yet casual. And blue-grey or blue-green. A colour you might not think twice about, but when you look again you’re drawn in by it. Why? Understated. You might miss me unless you’re looking for me, you might pass me by. But there’s substance and style there. And an ease about me, but balanced by a certain amount of questioning.


Links:

http://www.jessicamogridge.co.uk/index.html

Take Five with Shannon Reed

Posted on 14 March, 2019 at 4:25 Comments comments (0)



Shannon Reed lives in East Dulwich, South London, and is the owner of Mockingbird Makes and is an inspiring speaker on Creativity for Wellness with over 15 years experience in creative innovation and personal development. She is also trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and is a mum of two boys. Her passion is re-connecting people with their outsourced creativity so creates mostly bespoke items designed by her customers. She also teaches crochet, knitting and pompom making and offers unicorn decorating and pompom making parties. Her whimsical crochet cactus and key rings can be found in Pearspring Shop, Lordship Lane, and Home, Grove Vale, SE22. (She will also be at the Green Rooms Botanical Market March 30th 11-4pm at Peckham Springs selling her unkillable cactus, keyrings and Sophie Howard Jones pots.) If you aren't in south London, but would still love to have Shannon create something you for, contact her via her links at the foot of the blog.


In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

Re-connecting people (including myself!) with their creativity. My soap box is that we all too often out-source our creativity to others and that can be a huge detriment to our health. I love seeing the spark of joy in a customer, student or audience's eye when they get that creative muscle working - whether that be through designing something that I make for them, mastering a new stitch, or connecting with something I’ve said at a talk I’m giving. We give away so much of our agency when we delegate our creativity by blindly following trends and ideologies. Never mind missing out on all the opportunities our creativity gives us to understand who we really are and therefore uncovering the treasure that we have to offer the world.

 

Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why? 

For my personal development my current is Elizabeth Gilbert after attending her Big Magic workshop nearly a year ago. As well as 'Eat Pray Love' being a touching and inspiring read, the depth that Liz goes to in her self-exploration is really connecting. A friend and I meet once a month to practice the Big Magic writing exercise and it is so helpful in uncovering unconscious feelings and checking in with where we are and where we want to be. For more “professional” inspiration I’ve recently discovered Vanessa Barragao a textile artist based in Portugal and her coral tapestries www.vanessabarragao.com - phenomenal!


What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

I was lucky to have people support me right from the beginning by encouraging me to follow my intuition. That voice told me to go slow and follow what feels good. I don’t think, for me, I’d have done it any other way. Actually I do have one thing, build your email list!


If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

Step away, file the “wrong” answer away for when it is the right time, and make room for the “right” answer to take its place. Physically moving in nature is always helpful.


And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Ideally at my best an Ugg boot! Soft, cosy, casual and nurturing. But otherwise more of a supportive trainer (oh where is the glamour?!).


Links:

https://mockingbirdmakes.business.site

https://www.instagram.com/mockingbird_makes/

https://www.facebook.com/mockingbirdmakes/