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The place to create

May 12, 2010

Just had a meeting with Alastair Upton, Chief Executive here at the Bluecoat. I really wanted to know about how my understanding of creative process and its reflection in character, behaviour and life was represented at the ‘top’ of the chain here organisationally.

In particular I was thinking about these aspects of creativity, which seem at their root to conflict with the nature of ‘a building’ and ‘an institution’…
1. Vulnerability
2. Wildness

You can interpret these words however you wish, but the way I think of them is interlinking states of being that produce an atmosphere within one’s self that is conducive to creating. Conversations I have had with artists produce similar answers, which will be familiar to us all, regarding those moments that we feel at our most creative, and where creativity seems a common sense response to existence.

“I wanted to put myself out there”
“You have no defense to criticism, other than to make more work”
“It just came to me. Hopefully I was prepared for it.”
“It is about good nerves, focusing the attention on what you are doing and forgetting the environment.”
“It feels like you can ruin the whole thing if you aren’t alert to the idea at that moment [of inspiration]”

It will take more time to reflect on these things, Vulnerability and Wildness, and refine my understanding of how I think they are integral to the creative experience, and I’m sure that there are other aspects that I haven’t managed to boil down and understand at all yet – including something that is broadly related to a ‘coming together’ of heritage and the inheritance of a ‘right’ to produce the work that you happen to be working on at that time. Anyway, for now all I have is those two words, and a couple of first draft poems that reflect my limited understanding of them. I have posted the poems HERE and HERE.

The meeting with Alastair came with a fantastic opportunity to speak about these things in a very clear and rigourous (if informally so) fashion – which I guess comes with the kinds of responsibilities that he has, and his need to reflect and respond to the environment he is creating. Even at this level, it’s clear that an arts institution is an essentially creative endevour, which relies on the same mastery, understanding and acceptance of dualities: like Technique/Intuition and feelings of Power/Powerlessness, which all creative being have to deal with…

One ‘management’ tool that Alastair pointed me towards was MBTI ‘type’ indicator. It’s really interesting to think about how you fit into the categories of this Jungian tool, especially if we reflect on the fact that the creative world is made up of all different types of these characters, benefiting from this or that type of experience in devising and producing work.

The first ‘type’ distinguished in this scale is the E-I Dichotomy:

“Where do you prefer to focus your attention?” “Where do you get energy?”

a) Extroversion: directing energy towards people and by taking action. Work though ideas by talking, learn best by doing or discussing.
b) Introversion: direct energy inwards, and receive energy from reflecting on thoughts memories or feelings.

This is a really interesting dichotomy for me, because I would count myself among the group that gains much more from talking ideas through and creating with conversation as fuel, but some of the central people in my creative and personal life I am sure get much more of their energy from reflection.

This reflects also on a distinction I have been making in my talk about the facade of a creative building with its bright atriums and clean interiors, and the filthy work of creativity that happens in the unseen passages.


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