Thursday, October 13, 2011

Folk like watching other folk make stuff.

People like watching other people create. I watched a friend blow glass the other day and it was entrancing. Yes, the sculpture of molten glass dripping like toffee, and the threat of third degree burns at any moment is a particularly mesmerising combination. But I don't think it matters what you're making; creation is exciting!

A fortnight ago, I cartooned at Kidsfest, a childrens festival held in Shepparton.It was my second festival doing 'the sit down all day drawing constantly ' gig, having worked at The Royal Melbourne Show for a few years. Basically I sit down in front of a big batch of posters, and a queue of children, and then personalise each poster with a drawing. The poster usually advertises the festival and whatever business/agency I'm working for. The kids get to choose what I draw for them. They ALL lean on the table and watch.

I have to draw quickly, as there is almost always people waiting, so the day is a blur of different kids in the same spot assuming the same pose; the lean, the elbows on the table, the patient watching. I just love that kids of the Playstation/Wii/Nintendo/X box generation will still stand still and quietly follow the line of my pen on paper. Seeing where it will go. Seeing where it will take them.

Next door, more creation was taking place. In the background of the photo above, you can see a few figures hovering around a desk. One of those figures was a local celebrity; Lucy, from junior Masterchef. Aged 11. She went OFF. Like a frog in a sock. Very very popular, going from the queries. Loooots of queries.
"Where is Lucy going to be at 2 o clock? The main stage or here?
"Is Lucy on after you?"
"Is Lucy doing a spanakopita?"

Usurped by an eleven year old chef. Couldn't help but feel it was a career low-light.
But whilst I scribbled away, listening to her chop, dice, and fry, I did glance up once or twice at the gathered throng. And they were doing that watching thing. Watching her create. How cool.

Noticing how the general public loved to watch art being made was affirming as an artist, but more importantly, it confirmed my belief that creativity is necessary and vital to human beings. On an individual and societal level, creativity is essential. We need it. (Anyone resolved the conflict in the Middle East yet? Anyone? Hello?). Everyone is born with a measure with a of it. We expect it of our pre-schoolers. You will never ever see a three year old cross their arms and say "I don't do drawing or cardboard boxes".
You will, however, get plenty of thirty year olds doing just that. In fact, after primary school, creativity seems to be regarded as a 'you got it or you aint' kinda thing. You're either one of the 'arty' ones or you're not. Rather then seeing creativity as a valuable attritube that can be developed, much like diligence or rationality or public speaking, creativity is seen more like blue eyes or the breast cancer gene. You're born with it or your not.

Which is weird because you can actually make art in an incredibly uncreative way (trust me, I've done it) and you can do almost everything else in a very creative way. (Ever got so sick of doing dishes that you've bunged them in a baby bath and hosed the hell out of them on the back lawn? Didn't do a great job but, hey, it felt good. Yes, you're right, I should just get a dishwasher.) Being creative isn't the domain of hipsters, creatives or crafters. It's about the creation of something new. Everyone does it, and, as we are all unique, everyone does creativity differently. And we like to see, and enjoy, each others way of being creative. It's exciting stuff.

Cheers to you and your spanakopita, Lucy.

Cartoon printed in The Age, 2010.

P.S. Sorry 'bout the cartoon, Lucy. I'm sure your Mum isn't named Alison.

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