My creative mind is my happy place. I can block out the world when I have a plan up my sleeve and get completely lost in thinking and doing. I feel very lucky in my ability to lose myself in my creativity, and it comes as no surprise that many have currently found crafting and artistic pursuits beneficial to their mental health in lockdown. Has enforced solitude meant there is a greater opportunity to daydream, to let the mind meander towards creative thoughts and possibilities? Has boredom led us to express ourselves though creativity or is it quite the opposite? Crises and constraints can definitely boost creativity. I heard an amazing and equally terrifying story about the crew of the Apollo 13 who, risking death after oxygen tanks exploded on board, had to act quickly to create a filter system that would enable them to return safely to earth. They saved the day using a sock, the front page of their checklist manual and a roll of duct tape! Impressive, inventive and without a doubt creative. Do restrictions, crises or maybe even pandemics force us to think harder and produce better work? I definitely work best under pressure, but thankfully, so far, never near death kind of pressure.
My most creative spurts recently have come during online ‘Zoom’ workshops with the wonderfully talented and funny Ryan Dawson Laight. It’s an hour of total and utter mayhem, shared by a group of fellow creatives. Not all designers - there’s an actor and a potter amongst the merry crew. Ryan sets tasks around a theme to be done in anything from 3 minutes to 15 minutes maximum. Last weeks theme was ’Street Theatre Costume Character Design’, and I loved it. It got my creative juices flowing and the adrenalin pumping. We drew, we sculpted, we laughed a lot, and my final effort was this, who knows what of a construction, thrown together in minutes around the theme of “midnight, animal, cabaret”. Not stage worthy obviously but such a fun challenge in the time frame. I realise I have relished the madness of these workshops, the thrill of a deadline that is missing in my life without theatre. On the flip side my downtime outwith efforts to sustain my career, feed the family and the usual stuff, has been spent reconnecting with yoga, walking and crafting in front of Netflix. Patchwork has surprisingly become my therapy, and I am enjoying making space in my life for these activities. My conclusion is that life and creativity require both stimulation/pressures AND room to breathe in order to produce our best work. Yin and yang, a dualism and a balance that I hope I can achieve in my life when some kind of normality returns and in a way I never did before.