The creative act, when coupled with a commitment to ethics and the development of consciousness, is expressed as a bi product, an outflowing of a moment brought to fruition from a built-up force. It is harnessed by a deep commitment to something greater than your personal identity. The expression may take physical form, or be a moment experienced and left undocumented. In our capitalist environment that craves tangible and marketable outputs, the path of the ethical creative is a balancing act of checks and balances. It is ultimately a way of living and in the living the expression becomes an inevitable companion.
I’d like to share my experiences of living from this approach. It is a story that is only at its beginning, and it is one that I hope will end where it begins, in a place of unknowing and constant discovery and passion for the mystery of life and what lies beyond it.
What then is the driving force and aim of ethical creativity?
Ultimately, I believe that this is a deeply personal question and an individual quest. The purpose and driving force ebbs and flows, but at the centre, I have found it to be driven by a desire for healing and a dance with the great mystery of life with the ultimate step bringing one (and anyone who is willing to come along for the journey) into a point of transformation.
This weekend I headed to the hills, with paint and camera in hand. Being at a high altitude has a strong effect on the atmosphere, both inner and outer. This work was my attempt at capturing the atmosphere through feeling tones and the internal experience of a sacred place.
The art work came tumbling out of me perhaps because I have spent so many days and nights on this mountain. The relationship is always at the centre of the creative process for me. The importance of observation is not only in the seeing, but the sheer act of being and communing with something, someone or somewhere.
Although seemingly esoteric, this approach is about chasing the importance and value of simplicity, ultimately it is about stripping oneself back to the very bones of what it means to just be. The value is ultimately not in the selling price, but in the contribution that is made to the artist’s well-being, the viewer’s well-being or perhaps in the more subtle form, the well-being of the space in which the exchange of observation and relationship took place.
What I enjoy most about this process is the surprise that occurs when, after the moment of expression, I step back and can see something at work in me that I don’t identify as myself and it gives me a sense of hope that when these hands stop working, these eyes stop seeing and this mind stops working as I have known them always to do so, there is more.
This year, as the days grew shorter and the nights longer for the third winter spent living in Gippsland, I found myself craving my home made Chai Tea. As I got the recipe out I realised that it had become a seasonal ritual since having moved to my new town. This yearly touchstone gave me comfort, not just from the tea, but from the gesture of continuity within a period of great change and upheaval. Traditions and rituals are so often lacking from our culture and daily lives as a way to mark and embrace phases of transition; they allow us to move into change rather than resist it and form an import part in creating a sense of inner and outer belonging.
There was both a sense of adventure and also a frustration when I first arrived in my new town. Everything that I had taken for granted over years of making connections in Melbourne, suddenly took effort through trial and error. This journey has been acutely mirrored in my art practice which was my main motivation for leaving the daily commute and the pollution of noise, light and traffic.
Since moving, my art practice has shifted from the internal world of still life to the outer world of landscape, offering a way to communicate the internal atmosphere of mood. Although having grown up in the city when I sit with the scope of my experience, Gippsland has felt like home long before I came here to live. It is not the streets, or the houses, or the shop fronts and streetscapes. Those come and go – for me, the big skies, the birds’ flight home at dusk, the smell of smoke in fresh air and watching the seasons paint the landscape at their whim are where I have discovered a new and deeply inspiring source of creativity and belonging.
The journey to belonging is not marked by outward recognition or unspoken rules of initiation, it is an internal strength born from a sincere commitment to something of deep significance to you. It might be a favourite recipe, a craft that comes out the cupboard when the season beckons or even a daily ritual of driving the long way home because the view is better … these simple acts of conscious living can help strengthen and deepen our everyday, particularly at this time year when we are asked to dance with the dark.
This article was written for the upcoming June issue of:
Valuing Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
How do we define our sense of belonging?
And what happens in those moments when an absence is felt or a new presence enters?
The notion of belonging emerged when I moved from my home town of Melbourne to pursue the long held dream of living in ‘the country’.
Suddenly everything was unfamiliar and the long process of taking root began through moments of repetition and re-tracing experiences until they became familiar; a street corner that was visited every morning or weekend trips that allowed me to slowly have the courage to take the backroads.
During this time, almost daily, a group of birds began to visit the electrical wires outside my window. For the next 9 months I began recording their visits. I wanted to know what their interaction would sound like if their movement across the wires was translated into notes on a page and discover what the effect was when one left or came, when they jumped about, gathered in groups or sat patiently out on their own.
More and more, living out on a new limb and finding new connections, I have begun to treasure the fleeting and mundane moments. Sharing a cup of tea, a walk or a meal. In order to explore this idea I asked those people who have been birds on my wire to choose objects of significance to them and used these as inspiration for a series of still lives.
Through these works I have attempted to capture the value of simple objects, symbols of how we come to understand ourselves and express who we are to the outside. More recently I have drawn inspiration from the changing environment of Gippsland as my eye moved out of the inner world of the city and into a larger arena of the regional landscape.
Sunday 1 May
Centre Connect Create
Tools for communicating moods through painting
Sunday 1 May 11am – 12:30pm
In this introductory workshop we will be working with visualisation, gentle movement and paint to open the door of creative expression. Using acrylic on canvas we will take landscapes as our starting point to explore ways of communicating mood and atmosphere through colour and texture.
All material provided, however if you have a particular landscape or image you would like to work with please bring it along on the day.
No experience required
Suitable for ages 13+
Morning tea and art supplies provided
$5 pay on the day
RSVP to secure your place
Supported by Wellington Shire Council and Creative Gippsland
Download Flyer here: Centre Connect Create