creative practice the done thing

Reflections on Creativity Workshops.

Some clarification: There are 3 creativity workshops. They are intertwined but each is independent and separate. There is no need to have done any one to do any other. Although, it certainly is useful to have done Cr1, where we spend a bit more time on ‘the basics’ of articulating imagination into practical expression, and understanding tools and structures. In addition, Cr1 is the most beneficial preparation for the practical aspects of the A5 ‘year long creativity workshop’.

Each workshop has a certain component of theory, and insists on the boundaries of the form being explored. All the courses deepen the understanding of ‘the right tool for the job’ and navigating the space in which the performance happens, as we hone our craft. There are limits imposed on expression, rather than a free-for-all kind of ‘anything goes’ art-class. That’s the point. Or at least one part of it. To teach and develop the discipline of these very different areas of artistic creativity, so that there is a foundation for wherever you might want to later take your artistic expression.

Creativity 1, slowly refined over the years, pictures multiple images within the structures of colour and composition, using paints, charcoal, inks and pastels, on fine paper. The structure is finally limited within a constructed ‘landscape’. ‘The greater the limitation, the greater the expression’ is a teaching in Kabbalah, and we utilise that in leading the processes through to one (or more) ‘finished’ pieces.
Creativity 2, playfully referred to as the ‘love and light’ workshop, engages with kinetic sculptural form, and specifically the asymmetrical balance of forces (like balancing all the deeds of an entire life against a single feather, in the Egyptian mythology of the arrival in the underworld). In addition, the structural format is to produce a working light. This might be an overhead light, a standing lamp, a sculpture that has a light inside, or any other variation, powered off mains, solar or batteries, depending on the imagination of each person.
Creativity 3, the Poetry and Motion course, explores with what it says: the crafting of poetry and the exploration of images articulated in movement and dance, using each side of the work to support and enhance the images and felt-meaning of the other, as we go through our week together.

Notwithstanding the complex theoria elements attached to each of the different forms of creative expression, the learning about the practical uses and limits of tools, and training to become a more skilled craftsperson, the primary emphasis is on the doing. The ‘articulation of imagination into time and space’, to paraphrase Hillman’s definition of poesis. The actual working of different pigments on different papers, composition, imposition of borders, internal dialogue between images, and the potential effect of a viewer, resulting in finished work; making metal and glass sculpture, incorporating fabrics, and then bringing a light source into a relationship with the moving sculpture, again producing a finished piece; and writing decent poems, which is far more structured and challenging than most people think, even unstructured verse; and learning how the body houses and expresses images, as in theatre and certain ritual forms of dance (butoh, for example), is hardly a matter of ‘get up and shake your booty to the beat’.

The creativity workshops are the ‘laboratory’ and applied correlate to the therapeia studies. They all work with reflected and evolving imagery, presuppose a basic level of archetypal studies, and are challenging. They are also quite simply delightful and enjoyable, being absorbed and lost for hours each day in crafting and playing with the imagination.

At least one creativity workshop is mandatory before embarking on the A5 course. These workshops are open to anyone in and after their A4 studies, although sometimes allowance is made for an A3 student, if that is appropriate. These are not beginner workshops. Without a few years of formal studies and the foundation workshops, one would not be able to join. In this way we are able to explore at a level of intimacy and intensity that is not accessible to beginners. These workshops always introduce new ideas and are designed to be repeated as many times as you’re having fun.