You can be serious and play

You may have noticed that I have put a link to my newly created TED account on the page – although this does not provide my blog with content I thought it was a great addition to my exploration of Art, Creativity and the Power of Play.  TED, if you haven’t heard of them, are a nonprofit organisation devoted to the spreading of ideas.  On their site you can view many wonderful and interesting talks by a wide range of different people.

If you have time I would encourage you to watch the above talk by Tim Brown titled “Tales of creativity and play”.  It is very interesting to see how play is such a valued part of the design process at IDEO the company of which he is CEO.

I love the imagery of ‘thinking with your hands’ that he uses to describe play.  I think it would be great for all teachers to watch this talk.  So many times in school we are focussed on the paper work without allowing students to explore their ideas in a 3D way.

I also love that he really acknowledges that play is an important tool for the design and creation process – it is not frivolous but an integral part of the work.


Is THAT Really Art?

Along with all of the wonderful artists that I am discovering through doing my degree there are also ones that I have to research from time to time that just make you shake your head and ask yourself “Is THAT really art???”

Some ‘art’ that I have come across recently just makes me shake my head and wonder if perhaps for some artists it is the shock value and notoriety that they relish.  One example of this is the work of ORLAN.  Below is an image of a work she created using her own blood during an operation that was filmed as ‘performance art’.  To me this is really macabre and disturbing.  ORLAN has also created a work of art using her own menstrual blood.


(Image from website of ORLAN)

Now I know it takes all types to make the world go around, and there is some art that I do not personally like but can still appreciate what the artist is trying to do – but how far is going too far?  Personally I think any type of body fluid art is a bit too far for me – I mean ick!  I am also not into self-mutilation or, in the case of one example I saw, – chaining up a dog and letting it starve to death in a gallery.  Making a point maybe? or is it just exposing those artists in dire need of help with their mental health.


Who Cares About Copyright?

As an artist copyright is something that needs to be considered.  As a part of my Fine Arts degree I am currently enrolled in a unit on Web Communications (WEB101).  The last two weeks we have been asked to consider content sharing and the role of Copyright.  This is an interesting and confusing topic – suffice to say I think that the “Creative Commons” licence is a great idea and if I get nothing more from this unit (oh but I have learnt so much more!) then this unit has been worthwhile.

As a part of this exploration of copyright we had the opportunity to be a little bit creative and find a picture that we were able to use from Flickr and then use it to create a meme.  

This is what I came up with 


The photograph was from the photostream of mastrobiggo.  He has some wonderful photographs and being a cat lover I especially loved the ones of Gatti his cat.  He has licensed the picture that I chose to be shared and remixed as long as it is attributed to him, is for non-commercial uses and any work created from the original photograph is done so under a ‘share alike’ licence.

So a bit of creativity alongside learning about copyright – definitely fun!

Discovering New Artists

One of the joys of studying the Fine Arts and Visual Culture degree is discovering ‘new’ artists.  They are not necessarily new in the sense of just becoming prominent but they are new to me.  Like a lot of people most of the art I see on a day to day basis would normally, before the degree, have consisted of calendar art (lots of Impressionist works!), advertising and a little street art or local public art.  I have always enjoyed visiting galleries too, especially when on holidays and having the chance to go to see some of the paintings I have only ever seen in a book or on a screen.  Doing the degree has encouraged me to learn about artists I had never heard of before – including a lot of contemporary artists.

One artist I have recently discovered is Vik Muniz.  His work is truly inspirational.  A couple of weeks ago a documentary called “Wasteland” aired on TV.  I would recommend this documentary to anyone – it not only gives an insight into how Vik creates his famous photographs but also tells the story of the catadores who work sorting the rubbish in one of the largest rubbish tips in the world.  Vik Muniz captured the quiet dignity of the people as he worked alongside them to create some truly startling images all out of ‘garbage’.  The series of works is titled “Pictures of Garbage”.

I really love the image  “The Gypsy Magna–Pictures of Garbage”.  The photograph captures the strength and beauty of this woman in a sensitive way.  Looking at the photograph from a distance you would not be able to identify what medium Muniz has used to create the image – it is not until you get close that you notice that the image has been created out of broken plastic bottles and other discarded plastic products.  In a way I think this also makes a comment about how the catadores are sometimes treated in society – they are often ‘not seen’ – until you get close up as Muniz did in the documentary and hear their stories.

Photograph by Vik Muniz, courtesy of Vik Muniz Studio


When “Procrastinating” is a Good Thing

We have all worked on projects where we just don’t seem to be making any leeway or getting the new ideas.  Yesterday I read an interesting article by Christian Jarrett called “How Switching Tasks Maximizes Creative Thinking“.  This made me think about how I sometimes get stuck when trying to come up with an idea for a piece of work that fits my concept.  At times like this I tend to procrastinate but maybe this is the time that my brain needs to quietly work in the background and do it’s processing without ‘me’ getting in the way and trying too hard.

Do you like your work?

This video by Derek Sivers is really powerful and worth remembering. So often we are plagued by self-doubt, comparing ourselves and our work to others. We need to recognise the uniqueness of our own ideas and not listen to the small voice that would cause us to reject our work as not worthy. Learn to accept praise as well as criticism but most importantly keep playing and experimenting and you may end up surprising yourself.

When was the last time you really played?

As adults we take life (and ourselves) very seriously.  Taking time to really ‘play’ may be seen as frivolous but the power of play to enhance our learning is an important driving force.  

Last year I took a unit called VAR11 – Introduction to Drawing.  One of the most interesting aspects of this unit was the encouragement to play.  We did not draw with just pencils, charcoal, pens or other normal drawing instruments but were encouraged to explore a range of different objects for mark-making.  Now, aside from the fact that I ‘had’ to do this for an assignment, this activity was an immense amount of fun!  I really enjoyed playing with the range of objects I chose  and as I played and experimented I found myself coming up with new ideas and wanting to try more things.  I think a big part of it was the permission to fail – to try things out and not worry if they were right or wrong but to just enjoy the process.

So here is an image created in that unit using a doyley to make the marks.