We recently spent a lovely relaxed day exploring Rodd Wood and playing with clay with mums and their children as part of our It’s My World project.
Currently living in one of St Basil's supported housing schemes in the city, the mums were up for the challenge of a muddy hike around the wood and an observational drawing session with Charlie, our volunteer and tutor. Tony, our clay tutor, made up some beautiful clay slips for painting with and I made some giant brushes and pencils for some expressive painting for the little ones – who loved watching their marks appear on the paper and the feel of wet paint on their hands. One mum said how much she loved getting messy and allowing baby to get messy too (she’d brought her a change of clothes!). The toddler loved running through the meadow with buttercups up to his shoulders.
Seeing how children and parents react to being here is making me consider how we experience the world around us - and how we express our experiences of simply being. Our days may feel mundane and routine – maybe even boring. Each day may be full of uncertainties that challenge our ability to cope. If we’re fortunate, we experience things that enrich us and give us a sense of wellbeing and motivation (that’s what I hope for!)
I’ve got two teenagers and when I dip into their ‘electronically shared’ lives it seems possible that every thought and happening can be instantly put out there into the world – a visual and verbal response to the previous moment – at the mercy of reactions from friends and strangers. Where does a sense of reflection come in to this way of experiencing the everyday?
Creativity allows everybody – absolutely everybody – the opportunity to reflect and express how it feels to live through a moment, a day and a lifetime. Whether it’s through writing, making music, painting, performing or perfecting skateboard tricks – being creative helps us feel our way through life.
Above: drawings made by mums (with help from toddlers) during the woodland drawing workshop.
Looking at Nolan’s large spray painted works in the gallery this question of how we experience seems relevant. Nolan had many friends with whom he shared his life and he kept a diary for many years. As an artist he was also able to articulate what his experiences really felt like beyond a retelling of actualities. Over his life time he created a beautiful and powerful visual map of life as he experienced and responded to it.
In some creative way – however tiny – I feel we all need a method by which we can express the experience of our world. Watching a toddler paint clay slip on the palm of his hand – to see what it felt like seemed to me exactly that – he was free to express how he experienced the world in that moment.