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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Creating beyond oneself

                 'Photography and The Creative Mind', Venice February 3 to 6

painting by Michael Eldridge

I just love these words below from Mary Oliver. where she considers the central commitment of the creative life — that of making uncertainty and the unknown the raw material of art: and which she explores in a wonderful piece titled “Of Power and Time“; that.........
'Intellectual work sometimes, spiritual work certainly, artistic work always — these are forces that fall within its grasp, forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and the restraint of the habit. Nor can the actual work be well separated from the entire life. Like the knights of the Middle Ages, there is little the creatively inclined person can do but to prepare himself, body and spirit, for the labor to come — for his adventures are all unknown. In truth, the work itself is the adventure. And no artist could go about this work, or would want to, with less than extraordinary energy and concentration. The extraordinary is what art is about.'

And that...“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time”

I love these sentiments because they are the very philosophy which I have been drawn to all my creative life, and on which our workshops at Starstone have been based. And Oliver articulates it so well; that realm which exists in parallel with the ordinary world we half exist in, where creativity resides and awaits us when we have the courage to lose ourselves in its electric embrace. The extraordinary is what she calls it.
And this is Van Gogh writing to his brother Theo on October 2, 1884......
'If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.
You don’t know how paralysing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves'
One hundred and forty years ago, for goodness sake; a man born way before his time. And maybe that's what artists are, time travelers, never truly content with the age they are living in, but, as Oliver says, driven by forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and seeking refuge in the timelessness of creativity.
Oliver goes on to say that certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.
And this reminds me of Krishnarmurti's concept of the young mind (he differentiates between this and the old mind, which is thoroughly conditioned by culture, upbringing and education); .........and the young mind which is free, immensely creative and beyond time.
And it is what I call creating beyond oneself, where in the very act of creating, whether it is in painting, photography, ceramics, cooking, gardening et alia, that we transcend the ordinary and inhabit the extraordinary, that magical realm of creativity. And it is here that we understand what it is to be free.
 Next Starstone workshop 'Photography and The Creative Mind', 
Black and White inVenice, February 1 to 5, 2021