Art Matters

The existence of 40,000-year-old cave paintings demonstrates that making art has always been a part of being human and, although I, personally, have not seen anything that ancient first-hand, I have been up close to some early bronze-age artworks during a recent trip to Greece.  The effect was mesmerising and made me wonder that, no matter how primitive or hard our lives may be, we still have the impulse to make art.  And, while we may never understand why this is, we can at least appreciate how it benefits our well-being.

Barbara Fredrickson’s research demonstrates how artistic creativity produces positive emotions that result in beautiful, reinforcing upward-spirals, whereby the positivity results in even more creativity. And, in another upward-spiral, the presence of creative people promotes creativity in others.

But we must take care to nurture creativity. Children do it naturally, until they reach the age of self-conscious inhibition, when they might be persuaded to think of themselves as “not creative” or – worse still – become inhibited by the fear of ridicule or failure.

But we can all choose to be creative, so long as we are prepared to run the risk of missing the mark. Those of us who want to express our creativity but are afraid to do so, should seek an environment where the risk is supported and encouraged.  Join a group of like-minded people.  But remember that being creative, or “arty” is not necessarily about conventional painting, sculpture, poetry or musicianship.  It is about pushing boundaries and coming up with something new that will have an impact on others who perceive it.

“Even though personal creativity may not lead to fame and fortune, it can do something that from the individuals’ point of view is even more important: make day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.” – Mihály Czikszentmihalyi

So let’s go and embrace our creative freedom: dance to the radio; sing in the shower; tell stories.  We are not looking for perfection.

And I make no apology for recommending again – well worth another viewing – Ken Robinson’s TED talk - Do schools kill creativity?   And for a bit of fun check out Jay Silver’s TED talk - Hack a banana, make a keyboard!