Tomorrow is my last day teaching 3rd year students at Nottingham Trent University. We’ve been working towards building their confidence in communicating about their work, especially in written form. We’ve been thinking about the essentials of communication - understanding your values, your audience, the context of your work - and we’ve delved into the wonderful world of words and how great writing stems from finding good descriptive, emotive and sensory language. Now it’s time to start writing their Artist’s Statements. I’m confident it will go well; we’ve been having some good conversations. What I love about this part is that here I can see the seeds being sown, things that still need a bit of time to mature, but which will eventually emerge, as they do, into the world at their Degree Shows.
As I told them in the first session – one of my core values in my work is Learning & Growth. If I’m not learning and growing (or helping other people to learn and grow, in whatever way they need) then why am I doing it?
It’s something that’s easy to forget when there’s a lot on – the things that are fundamental to our work, the reasons we do it. When I get busy the first thing to disappear is my awareness of the big picture. I become obsessed with detail and tasks. I forget the broad strokes of my work. This week, with the lengthening days and the signs of spring everywhere I look out in the world, I realised that I’ve got my own signs of spring happening inside me, within my work, even if it feels like things are still a bit barren.
This week I started working with a new client. Her work responds so directly to the seasons that it was impossible for me not to pause and think about that. To consider my own practice in terms of seasonality. And, I realised that my work is seasonal, it has its own rhythms; some relate to other people (the needs of clients or the academic year) and others come from my own needs to slow down or to speed up due to the changing of the light. Each year that I do this work I learn more about what needs to happen in different seasons, the work I should chase, the quiet times I should relish.
I am beginning a garden. It’s the first time in almost ten years that I’ve had complete control over my outdoor space, and enough outdoor space to enjoy! The overgrown shrubs have been pruned back and there is room to see what could be possible. It’s so tempting to try to cram in all the ideas I’ve had over the years, to want to fill it with colour and scent and edible goodies. But I also know that sometimes a space needs to be allowed to tell you what it wants for itself. Just as I have been learning to reflect on my creative practice and learn what is best from experiencing things, I am hoping to do something similar with the garden. I’ll give some things a try and see what happens, I’ll pause and listen and then choose what’s next. There is no rush to create some ‘perfect’ show garden, this tiny patch of west London is no Chelsea! But it is mine, and it’s ok for it to evolve slowly.
The clocks change this weekend. It makes me happier than I can say. The equinox tipped the balance towards the returning of the light and now we get a bonus. Finally, winter is over. Everything begins, there is so much possibility ahead. It’s a really great time to have a quick think about what we’ve just been through. To acknowledge where there have been struggles, or where there has been joy. To learn about our rhythms so that we can remember next wintertime. I’m continuing to do my 3-monthly Creative Practice review, to ask myself how things have been going and to look ahead. Maybe this weekend you’ll join me?
What have you discovered about your creative practice this winter? What learning do you want to carry forward with you? What new growth is emerging in your work?
Download my free Creative Practice Spring Review now!