Friday 5 February 2016

the art of art

Here's some truths….
I grew up in a very very extremely creative home. I was supported in my artistic, creative wishes… My parents helped, pretty hands-on, with my massive end of high school art piece. Actually, they probably helped with a whole lot of most of the things we made at home. Not always hands on helping, but support and idea sharing, and offering advice and suggestions. And supplying materials and space to create. And sharing "real" artists - books of, stories of, taking us to exhibitions and talking about their history, their careers, their art techniques.. That sort of thing. The sort of things that we took for granted. Some of which I offer my kids now, and they take for granted. Which is cool - I think kids should take some things for granted from their parents. 

But - here's the thing. Through all this. Going to a Steiner school, having special art teachers, going to art camp during holidays… all those things (Which for my parents would have cost a lot, and been a challenge for them to find the funds for - somehow they did; with 4 kids too!). I still didn't go to art school, or ever consider myself as becoming an artist. (I did want to be an actor, which is an artist in itself - but I gave that dream up when I didn't get into any of the drama schools I wanted to). I never once considered the possibility of "being an artist when I grow up". Neither did my younger sister, or my older brother. My older sister did go to art school, and majored in photography, and she now works in the arts industry - but not as a photographer, and not as an artist. 

Now - at this stage in my life, where I'm coming closer and closer to calling myself an "artist" I still have these issues, doubts, thoughts about it. I know mostly all real artists go through this.. huh. Do they. Maybe. I guess everyone goes through different aspects of that through whatever their career. I'm not saying I'm special or different by having these thoughts, issues, whatevers. 

What I am saying, asking… is why.. And then - I remember that while my parents lived this very creative artistic life, neither of them was really a practicing artist. My mother wanted so desperately to be a potter, well to be accepted and acknowledged. She plugged on and on, with all her creative skills and talents - but always was left short of that particular fulfilment of being recognised. Even her craft of being a yoga teacher wasn't respected the way she deserved. But she kept at it, and battled through it. 

Many of you know that my mama is no longer here, walking our Earth. I was youngish and caught up in myself when she died, so much of this could be strange memories, or made-up extrapolations. And I don't know / will never know the full depth of much of what she was, went through, wanted… But I do know, remember, and now myself feel, that pain - a deep ache - of wanting to be 'accepted' somehow. 

I don't talk about my dad much here, because he's himself and I don't think he wants his story to be shared - especially my version of it.

All this is the lead-in to say…. I've been thinking about the art of making art. And about the anguish of. But mostly - about the way to come around and away from that strange need for validation from an outside world. Which is hard in this time of 'likes' and 'followers' and such a big world of popularity. Everyone wants more than their 15minutes of fame - we all want continual ever-increasing fame. And many people will never get that, many people who don't deserve it (artistically speaking) will get it…. 

So - as a society, and a community. What do we do about this? How do we raise a new generation who don't value or need this validity of 'likes' and 'followers'. Or is it just a bigger version of the school yard where we can all see the physical number count of someone's popularity - rather than guessing at and giggling about the losers in the playground. I was never the popular kid at school; I was quite happy being the slightly strange 'hippie' kid (not self-named) who was respected by people but not their number one or anything.

For me, as a mother and a creative and a sorta-kinda practicing 'artist/maker' my goal is to let go of the 'likes' issue. To make for making's sake - to delve into what I want. To remember that girl who made because she loved making. Who stood in drama class and spoke words loudly and proudly. Who made a plaster cast of her body and filled it with precious things, and glued birds wings on her back for her high school major artwork. That girl. The one who spoke up to the bullies and didn't really mind what people thought of her if they weren't her friends. And to help my kids be that person too - find that person in themselves and never forget him / her throughout this world of popular. 

Yep - that's my goal. Find the girl who glued green bird wings to her plaster cast body. 

(*I wish I could share a photo of this piece with you. For while I still have it, it's slightly the worse for wear… not having been stored in an art gallery or anything prestigious like that Cause doesn't everyone's year 12 artwork get picked up by a gallery! also - bird wings / feathers were found in our forest home, no birds were harmed. Also - I love that we dyed paper and fabric with natural berries from our forest home for part of the work. These things - from way back then - are my life now.)


  1. Beautiful Ellie...thank you for sharing with so much honesty.
    You are an artist...perhaps it is hard to acknowledge it for self as you've been raised in it...or perhaps this 'how many likes' society has created another type of artistry.
    You are one of a kind.

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