One of the most difficult things for me to do as a blocked creative during my ‘creative confinement’, has been to visit my studio. This space, previously layered with unnamed potential and energy, has become a painful reminder of what I have been and where I now find myself to be creatively. Images of contrasts come to mind which I quickly block away. It’s the blocking that’s the problem here, as it’s difficult to really face my own faded sense of creative self worth. To remind myself of this, I have an image of Mandela looking at his own reflection posted above my desk in my studio. This image, by the photographer Adrian Steirn as part of the 21 Icon Series, prompts me to reflect on my creative self. Even though I may not have answers, I am asking questions.
What has been incredibly helpful has been to start reading and working through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. What’s been particularly helpful to me is the way that Cameron explains creativity. Sounds awkward, doesn’t it? What artist needs creativity explained to them in the first place? Surely, as a creative, creativity is crystal clear? And yet in my experience, what creativity is – especially if you feel that it’s eluding you – is trickery at its best. Cameron explains that:
In a sense, your creativity is like your blood. Just as blood is a fact of your physical body, and nothing you invented, creativity is a fact of your spiritual body, and nothing you must invent.
As a previous nurse these words hold deep meaning for me. I understand haemodynamics in the context of the human body. Being the life force which is incredibly sensitive to both inner and outer pressures, blood lives its own life in its own trajectories deep within ourselves. In some way this fact remains obscure to us, unless blood seeps to the outside and we are taken by surprise by its presence. Creativity, like our blood, is ever present. Neither needs to be fabricated by ourselves. We simply need to understand and accept this.