Creative Challenges: Bowerbird C.O.N.T.E.S.T.

After reading Oxford Kitchen Yarn’s moving and well-written post on her creative aspirations for the next year, and following the links to Bowerbird’s C.O.N.T.E.S.T., I decided to put togther something here, detailing the creative challenges I want to set myself for between now and this point next year. I decided that, in the spirit of review, I would use photos from exactly one year ago to illustrate each point within this post. So we have images from last year, the 5th August, when The Oxford Bluestockings enjoyed a marvellous yarn crawl together in London, combined with my aspirations for the coming year.

Firstly, I want to cultivate the small projects that keep me physically making. I’m talking about constantly stocking my Etsy store with little things, always having a swap on the go, and finding ingenious ways of having small and mindful objects flowing through my life. This is coupled with the desire to cultivate and appreciate small moments where form, colour, image and idea come together. I’m talking about feeding my habits re: creation and appreciation.

However, unlike in this photo I took last year in Wagamama where brand new chopsticks are carefully combined with costly Habu yarn for the sake of an ‘Art Moment,’ I want my creative endeavours to become more and more reliant on imagination and engagement and less and less reliant on expensive raw materials. I would like to develop a habit of creating beauty abundantly and inexpensively.

I aim to cultivate a practise of constant making, to always have rough patches on my hands.

I intend to make objects that inspire out of the backs of flour bags, saved pieces of brown paper envelopes, odd ends of string and old cereal packets; to bring attention to the value of such things and to render them beautiful through effort and mindfulness. And I want to do it all the time, and make it a habit. My first creative challenge for myself is To Make All The Time, Out Of Anything.

Secondly, I want to develop a podcast out of my experiences with the Fantastical Reality Radio Show and The Missability Radio Show. I want to continue building my radio portfolio and to begin integrating more and more everyday and found sounds into what I create. I want to find a listenership and to become involved, through radio and podcasting, in an online creative community.

Here is one of the letter-pressed fliers I handmade, advertising The Missability Radio Show Knitted Walking Stick Cosy Competition. The competition didn’t garner the large response I wished for; I am still learning why this was. I especially want to understand, – and this is the greatest creative challenge I am setting myself – what inspires a person to participate? So my second creative challenge is To Discover More About What Draws People In.

I also want to make a museum of mindful things, based on the interviews Mundane Appreciation and I did for the Fantastical Reality Radio Show, to attend with great care to the details of peoples’ lives. I have been constantly haunted, for instance, by one interview Mundane Appreciation conducted with a man who once had a bad encounter with a stapler. He now only uses sellotape, for fear of hurting his hand. I wish to attend to such feelings, captured in conversation. To knit a stapler for the man who is afraid of the real thing. To beautify the washing-up area for the person who hates washing up. To Attend To The Details Of Life And To Love Them. That is my third creative challenge to myself. This is the spirit in which I made my polka dot walking stick cosy; to Attend To Something. The Museum is just one way that I might do this, but there are other ways… my creative challenge is to find them and to develop them. How does a person make affirmative art work? That is the question.

These creative challenges serve to underpin a much more focussed and detailed portfolio of practise-based PhD research, all being well with my funding for year 2.I have learned in my first year of PhD studies that I need concrete projects and a huge range of creative strategies on hand to just keep on making work. With sometimes a month between meetings, no solid deadlines for handing in a dissertation and a vague, self-directed study programme, the onus is on me to keep my internal fires alight. The broader and more generalistic creative challenges I’ve set myself here are the things that underpin the day-to-day development of actual art projects. The weekly plans are the nuts and bolts; this is the architectural drawing and the manifesto:

* To Make All The Time, Out Of Anything.
* To Discover More About What Draws People In.
* To Attend To The Details Of Life And To Love Them.

To write about your own creative challenges, go to Bowerbird Knits and check out the C.O.N.T.E.S.T. for yourself.

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