There is a lot of talk about creativity at the moment, how it is taught, how it affects us and indeed a whole wave of activity around mindfulness and colouring books. Those of you that know me will know that I do get my soap box out when it comes to creativity in schools, but you will be pleased to know that is not what this blog is about.
I recently took my beautiful daughter out to the cinema and to see Ladybird (which I highly recommend by the way). At 16, it was the perfect movie for her to look at the whole business of becoming an adult and the way we and others see ourselves. On the way home, she said to me, “Not a lot really happened in that film did it? I mean don’t get me wrong I loved it, it has really changed my opinion of a lot of things.” And that for me is what art is all about. Getting a message over in an easy to understand, enjoyable way.
This week I was painting at an infant school in Peterborough, where the students come from many different cultural backgrounds. The Head wanted a mural that both showed this and celebrated it at the same time. To do this with words would have been almost impossible, and even if it were possible, would not be something that people would stop and read, certainly not an infant school aged child. The arts are invaluable in getting over important information, educating and challenging opinions in a simple and interesting way. Watching a film, reading a book or looking at a painting takes us away from the everyday humdrum of life and forces us to examine thoughts and ideas, I like to think of it a yoga for the mind and spirit.
That is why murals are so great in schools and offices, rather than detract from what is happening, they allow the mind a chance to refocus, giving a mental break and receive information in an easily absorbed way. Studies have shown that workers are more productive in an office with art on the walls rather than blank walls, and the same goes for schools. The teaching staff at my school in Peterborough can use the art I have created to explain, challenge and celebrate thoughts and ideals; and of course, they are big enough to sit a whole class in front of.
In this world of sanitised, mass produced ‘stuff’, to have something that is personal and means something to us is very powerful. The messages in Ladybird, that it is OK to be different, to be weird and not have to conform to other’s ideals, is what my business is all about. I always say to my clients, why have something that was designed for someone else when you can have something designed especially for you. We are all different, celebrate it. Creativity in it’s many forms, is all about being different, being yourself and should be embraced by everyone. I believe that exposure to the arts in whatever form is a basic human need, not a nice to have.
I have also been to see The Darkest Hour recently, (another fabulous film, where I learnt loads), and it reminded me that when Winston Churchill was asked if he wanted to redirect funds from the arts to assist the war effort, said quite simply “Then what are we fighting for?” Very wise words from a very wise man.