Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Does it matter enough?

Pic: Lucy Feagins.  Photo by Sean Fennessy
In response to the comments on my previous post, I just want to say a couple of things - things I wanted to say in my talk at the Big Hearted Business Conference but didn't find time/space for.

Firstly, that whole idea that if you want it enough - that if you are a "pure" or "true" enough artist - you will make it happen... Personally, I've never been completely sold on this.

In The Divided Heart, Sally Rippin mentions author Chester Eagle's statement that “If it matters, it'll get done. If it doesn't get done, it didn't matter enough.” I have since thought about this notion a lot!

For much of history, becoming an artist hasn't been an option for the vast majority of women. And so, if in order to become an artist a woman felt forced to abandon her children, or to avoid have any in the first place, it's not really fair measure of their desire to become an artist.

That may sound extreme, but even now women are overcoming the vestiges of that attitude (even if only within their own minds), and the biological instinct to put their children first. Of course I also know men who have struggled to hang on to their creative dreams once they have a family and feel the pressure to be chief breadwinner.

I feel like I've met many people over the years who could be great artists but just never managed to overcome their fears or their lack of confidence or the external barriers (real or imagined) to really give it a proper crack - and that to me is the ultimate tragedy. Because I know that it has and does matter to them.

These are the people I'm trying to speak to every time I talk about giving yourself permission to be creative!

Among the students I went to art school with, the ones who've made it have not necessarily been the most talented or the "truest" ones (though many were that too, of course, Clare Bowditch among them). They were generally the most confident, ambitious and determined ones. The ones who gave themselves permission - and who just got the work out there.

I couldn't help but notice how much Catherine Deveny's line "I'm not a perfectionist, I'm a completionist" resonated with people!

There are as many different ways to be creative as there are creative people. Not everyone has to be a capital-A artist (in the traditional mode), as the conference demonstrated so beautifully. Now, more than ever, art/craft can be done on any scale, and there are myriad ways of getting the work out there, sharing it around - and potentially a good living from it.

BHB speaker Lucy Feagins was also among those students I studied with back in the late '90s - and now she's one of the world's most successful and influential design bloggers. Not everyone has to be a practicing artist, as such. There are just as many creative careers based on a love of art made by others.

If the BHB conference reminded me of anything, it was the importance of living passionately, whatever we decide to do.


jen storer said...

As always, nicely put, Rachel! xx

ronnie said...

*nodding my head in agreement* -- and I'd add - that Capital-A ART (lets talk visual arts for a minute) for too long has represented a singular pathway/vision/modus operandi..... late capitalism, hyper consumerism married with high modernism/ post modernism has, for the most part, delivered us facile investment Art for the rich, white male.... its long past time for a change.

Rachel Power said...

Agree. Women are really shaking up the old models and ways of doing things, which can only be to the benefit of everyone.

Rachel Power said...

Thanks Jen. Walked past your & Kate's office many times at the Convent over the wknd. Loved seeing your gorgeous door plaque! xx

George Kanellopoulos said...

thanks Rachel..very nicely written

kathryn said...

Thank you Rachel.

I have always had a problem with the concept, as you put it "the idea that if you want it enough - that if you are a "pure" or "true" enough artist - you will make it.'

I believe this to be a very destructive statement and not at all true. There are many highly creative people in my life who have struggled to manage their creative urges and parenting, some have succeeded spectacularly, and others not so and many factors come into play. SUPPORT, confidence, mental health are but a few of the saboteurs.

The above statement labels the great many creatives that don't make it as 'failures of their own making.' Hey, lets kick them while they are down!

Much better to support and honour the creative wants of all - not just those who fly.

It's just fabulous that there is a forum for this conversation. Well done.

Elly Varrenti said...

i always baulk at words like' truth' or authentic' or 'real' at the best of times because they just seem such empty and spurious notions finally. whose 'truth'? whose authenticity'? etc. thanks rachel. you always manage to be both encouraging and realistic, supportive and analytical all at the same time. elly

Fiona said...

inspiring post. I underestimate how often I need to put myself out there... it fabulous to read about so many others doing the same


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