I am fascinated by creativity and am always happy to read anything that might give me better understanding about what is happening in the minds of those people I spend a lot of time with – namely highly creative people working in all sorts of disciplines (not just the obvious ‘creative’ arts jobs). I enjoyed this book because not only does it helpfully break down creativity into 10 traits (and thus makes reading it in short bursts at bedtime that much easier) but it is also based on current research in neuroscience and psychology. Because, who doesn’t love pages of notes to follow up with? (Ok, maybe not everyone, but it gives me a nice sense of being in good hands).Read More
This month’s book recommendation comes with a caveat. Not because it isn’t very good (it really is) but because I feel a bit awkward recommending a book which is aimed so squarely at only half the population. My aim with highlighting books on my blog is to share what I’ve been reading and the things I’ve found enjoyable, provoking and inspiring with the hope you might find them similarly helpful. This book is one of the few ‘personal development’ books I’ve read when I felt like it was written about me, and about people I know. So I couldn’t not tell you about it, despite its narrow focus. I hope you’ll forgive me this once, and I hope you’ll consider reading it no matter how you gender-identify; there are good insights for all in it.Read More
I picked up the book and knew immediately that a friend would like it. That an exploration of the possibilities from one tree would appeal to her. I knew that it would hold descriptions of the connection between material and process, material and object, material and craftsperson, that would make sense to her maker’s sensibility. I was excited to read it, so that I could send it on, with glowing praises and hopes that she hadn’t yet discovered it. I read the back cover, and smiled to see how Grant Gibson was ‘smitten’ by it. The promise of becoming completely absorbed in the prose. Of falling in love with a tree and the objects that it would produce.Read More
I first read this book a few years ago while I was in second year of my BA. At the time I was still uncertain of the path ahead and this book, which focuses on how to set up useful strategies for maintaining your creative drive, helped me to see that creativity is not an elusive bolt of lightning, but something that must be worked at, a skill that if you don't practise, it will be lost. Here I am three years down the line, grappling with issues in my making practice, and her words are relevant again.Read More
This book, written over a thousand years ago, by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is a wonderful touchstone for when things get a bit too much. It is a proto self-help book, but unlike modern self-help which is written for an audience, and aims to be instructive, this text was written by Marcus Aurelius privately, for no-one else's eyes. These are his notes to himself, reminders of how to keep going, reminders of things he's learnt along the way.Read More
Ok, so you may have noticed that the book choices are becoming less about making specifically. But bear with me. This book deals with creativity and the impulse we all possess to be curious, to create. It tries to unpick the narrative that we have all inherited that creativity is mysterious and that the artistic way of life should be fraught with worry and suffering. The author believes in the paradoxes of the creative life: "Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it does not matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful priviledge". But she also believes in Big Magic. Big Magic is what happens when you live an authentic, creative life (and creative is incredibly broadly defined here), when you have the courage to honour the things that are hidden within.Read More
This book critically investigates the making of art and examines the narratives of production in art, because "making is a form of thinking". The authors believe that the method of making the art work and its conceptual meaning are tightly bound. Which makes this book an important read for any craft maker.Read More
It's possible that I'm a little biased about this book; I was Kyra's studio assistant for a year and a half when I was a student. And in that time I saw how integral drawing was to her making practice, how her ceramic work is itself a form of drawing. In this book she asks makers from all disciplines to share how they use drawing in their work.Read More
A long time ago I trained as an archaeologist. It’s where my love of objects, of the narratives we weave about our lives, and of searching out unseen things comes from. If you’ve ever nosied around on London’s Thames foreshore, you’ll have had a glimpse of these things for yourself. I’ve written about it before (and no doubt will again) as it’s an amazing experience and connection to the past, a connection to things people have made.Read More
You will never find me without a book (or three) on the go. I am not sure I know who I am without books; they have been a constant in my life since I can remember, and reading brings me joy day after day, especially when the world feels tough. I love stories, but never seem to read enough fiction. What I particularly love is non-fiction. The stuff of the world, how things work, what people think about things, and why. I read to find out more, and to understand myself better.
Each month in my newsletter I highlight a book I've been reading. Sometimes these books are about making specifically, often they are about the creative process in general. They are usually insightful and offer inspiration to the creative person searching for their own way. It seemed a shame that these musings only exist in the spam folders or trash bins of a handful of people's email accounts (really hoping that isn't true!) so I thought I would resurrect them here on the blog.
Some of the entries I've updated, some are exactly as they were when I wrote them months ago. Some are season-specific, and so may seem a bit out of place here in spring. Some are short and sweet, others go into more detail. All the 'reviews' are entirely my opinion and are not literary criticism - just one woman's subjective view on things, which you may or may not find helpful to your situation. Welcome to my reading world!