Thursday, 5 January 2012


Last week I was delighted to be asked if I would contribute to an article in The Irish Times, by Roisin Ingle, who is, in my opinion, an angel. The main theme was on ways to improve on the year ahead and my subject was creativity - what does it mean and how might everyone get started. 
We talked for an hour and a half, and had only begun to get going... then Roisin had to get just 400 words out of it!!  My gist was - everyone is creative, no matter what you've been told. So lets.... DO IT!! The article is below if you are interested. Ken Robinson is an Education genius, whose book The Element is well worth reading, and for giving to your teenage children. 

A little bit of active creativity will put a spark in your step
FIVE YEARS AGO Sir Ken Robinson delivered an 18-minute TED talk on how schools are responsible for killing creativity. To date it has been downloaded almost eight million times.
His argument that we are all born with vast natural creativity and talent which our educational institutions tend to stifle resonated deeply with people. Friends tipped each other off about the talk, parents showed it to their children, and companies screened it.
The notion that nurturing your creative side in 2012 should be limited to so-called arty types is nonsense. According to experts in the field, not tapping into this part of ourselves is tantamount to self-neglect.
For those who already regularly flex their creative muscles, this is obvious. But for people who don’t, suddenly attempting to be creative can feel awkward. If you are stuck for ideas, ask yourself this question: “What can I do that is just for me, that is enjoyable, that will take all my attention and keep me focused for five minutes or five hours?” Nurturing your creative side could mean anything from making pastry to cutting the grass. Whatever the answer turns out to be, enjoy.
Belfast-based art teacher Julie Douglas meets a lot people through her work and says the biggest block to creativity is “negative self-perception”. In her classes, especially among beginners, she hears a lot of stories around how people view themselves creatively: my sister was the arty one; I was told I couldn’t draw; my drawings were the ones the teacher held up in class to show everyone how not to do it. According to Douglas, negative past experiences colour our own perception of our ability and “they are always wrong”.
“Once students treat themselves more kindly and give up thinking they should somehow be able to do it automatically then they begin to amaze themselves by how much they can do. That’s how creativity works.”
Douglas believes anybody can paint well. “I believe less in natural talent than in skill and the art of learning. The best artists and teachers describe themselves as still learning. We are always wanting to try something new and learn from it.”
“[Creativity] works best when you have no expectations, when there is no end product in mind. Watch a small child who has been given a crayon and a piece of paper. They have no idea where the next line is going to go, they are just engrossed in the act of connecting hand to crayon, crayon to paper. That’s creativity.”
In a supermarket or in a queue for the train, Douglas says she can pick out people who are not nurturing their creative side. “It’s as though their light has gone out or they are missing their sparkle. We are a creative species. If we stick to a treadmill of work or duty, ignoring the natural want in us to be creative we can become unfulfilled and depressed . . . being engrossed in something you enjoy brings meaning to our lives and answers a need within us all.”
Recently, Douglas has been painting a lot of cakes and tarts, simply because of how attractive they look. When she emailed the images to students the response was immediate and warm.
“Why am I painting tarts?” she asks, before answering her own question. “Because they make people feel good. No better reason.” RI

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