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Grayson Perry and Rose Tremain on Creativity
I meant to share this at the time of the broadcast a month of six weeks ago. Life and an OU TMA got in the way.
Please offer your thoughts and share
These are notes, things I picked out, some reflection on my take on all of this. Perhaps we are like minds? Perhaps not? I’m trying to make sense of it … I’m not saying I’ve made sense of it here or in a hundred or more posting on a similar theme that I have made online over the last decade reading the likes of Stephen Pressfield, Norman Mailer and Ben Okri, even David Ogilvy) who amongst many creatives have chosen to share their wisdom with the wider world.
To be successful and creative is a rare thing, it isn’t simply a result of luck or talent or endeavour … a mind might be able to self-regulate and focus once it has found its medium and voice, but just as helpful are those around you who create parameters, who set deadlines, who chase you with a stick or reward you with a carrot.
In this BBC Radio 4 broadcast Grayson Perry explored the myths and misconceptions of creativity.
What does it take?
Like all things, hard work and single-mindedness.
From my point of view I see myself as a Catherine Wheel that has been lit and fallen of its stand – I spit and twist, sending out ideas all over the place. Not the best way forward.
The Myths and Misconceptions were:
- The Eureka Moment (Spoke to Terry Pratchet)
- Anyone can do it (Spoke to Rose Tremain)
- Drugs are good for you. (But not for Satre)
- A bid mad
- Britain’s got talent (Spoke to Hussein Shelian)
- Creative Genius
- Need to have suffered an early trauma (Ray Talis)
We are reminded the ‘creativity’ is a central part of the UK economy.
For 17 years I actively contributed to this. My wilderness years, the last eight, have resulted in very little output (if that means getting it out of the front door). I stack it. I’d prefer to see these ideas compost and die than give my ideas to the world.
It is essential that creativity has institutional underpinning.
How will this manifest itself with the cuts to arts funding now being proposed by the coalition government in the UK.
or is it necessary. Whilst education in the UK has its faults it nonetheless appears to favour and permit the individual so that talent can develop. This must be the state system, private schools are a sausage machine for exam results, they have to be given what parents are forking out.
‘Creativity is mistakes.’
Says Grayson Perry, he has this carved into concrete across the mezzanine floor of his studio. You try, you fail, you try again. I would like to suppose I haven’t tried hard enough to fix my failures (or what I perceive as failures). At time though I feel if I keep on trying I would eventually strip back a 90,000 novel to a few words.
Imaginative power is ‘looking, looking, looking’ to which Rose Tremain added, it is ‘listening, listening, listening.’
I’m a looker, so I don’t know how I’ve ended up writing.
You can never be fully relaxed on holiday.
I do, but sailing and skiing do occupy your head if you fall off cliffs and like to race dinghies. Moments of near-death are exhilarating, as those times the elements sweep you along.
I hate the computer as a writing tool, this facility to edit does me no favours. yet a writer Grayson interviews said the computer allowed him to write, that until then he had no way to start straight in with a few thoughts, some scenes (like episodes in a film), and assemble it all in a non-linear way.
I’ve worked so hard with programmes like Power Structure and Final Draft but somehow always tie myself in knots trying to add or remove a character or scene or changing the ending or beginning.
‘Letting go at the end – that’s as good as it will get.’ Says Rose Tremain.
A year of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and my last session was driving me to ‘finish something.’ I can, but there needs to be someone with a stick harrying me along, a reward at the end would help, reassuring words along the way too …
My notes here (a month or so after the broadcast) say something about ‘investigating in a way that is new and aiding their creativity by giving them love and boundaries.’
I would run with a lover, with the intensity of an unfulfilled affair. Something to make the heart race. I once spent a day drawing a girl I lusted for … she was happy to be naked for me. I compelled myself into a state of denial without able to control my arousal. It all went into the drawing, the excited, confident marks across the page.
What about the University of East Anglia Creative Writing Course?
I’ve locked at the details and would be applying for 2011. Don’t have the money. Anyone want to sponsor me? In return for a percentage of the royalties that would of course come about a year or two later?
Or the MA in Fine Art at Sussex University?
‘A life’s work without any expectation of reward.’
My wife caught this line and said that was me. She should know, she’s not had much out of me these last eight years. The novels I promised to write were written, but are considerably short of an edit I would send out. I would need to shut myself away from everything for 12 weeks.
Do you have somewhere I could hide?
Exam conditions six to nine hours a day, seven days a week. Not any man made disturbance – nature I can tolerate, nature I love. A hermitage on Farnes island would do, a ski lodge up a mountain pre-Season. somewhere. An empty barn, drained swimming pool, decommissioned nuclear power station.
Impulsive ideas that I run with:
- A chess set made out of branded bottles of water.
- Every ski run in the Ski Resorts of Val d’Isere and Tignes reconstructed as transects showing their true length and fall.
- A short film about watersprites living in a public swimming pool
- Story ideas galore for TV series or film.
- A 6ft canvass of Lewes Castle in the snow from a series of photographs that could have been taken 800 years ago.
‘When you are creating something you are drawing on so many parts of the brain.’
This was in response to someone with an MRI scan who claims to have identified creativity. It doesn’t work like that, indeed, the creative mind goes more slowly … it takes it times over these connections. It thinks, how else could it ever deliver anything original?
So when yo relax, you let go, that is when you have your great ideas. I resolved the ending to a story I haven’t touched for three years on a dog walk so long I found worried messages on the mobile phone I had left in the car. My mobile is rarely on.
‘The distressful bread of the day to day.’ Said Rose Tremain.
Did I get that right?
Grayson Perry talked about his Inner Shed.
I have my inner shed, what I need is a ‘room of my own.’ It’s hard to be creative perched on the end of the marital bed in a tiny room that is stacked to the ceiling with possessions that call for occupancy of a house twice the size.
Fretting over the non-blog affordances of the OU Blogging environment I have moved to EduBlogs where you will find me under ‘Mymindbursts.’
Should institutions such as the OU ditch their own platforms and assemble the best off the shelf offerings in one place? What this environment lacks is personalisation, as well as stats, friends, freedom to add apps and plug-ins and all the rest of it.
This is a De Dion Bouton in the age of the E-type Jag.
The book is dead, so is the e-book, long live conversation
We’re discussing Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 only because formal academic research takes so long and nothing will change a module within 7 years of it being written.
Weller talking last week is a world beyond Weller of the MAODE, yet systems aren’t in place to adapt responsively, and contact between tutors or profs and keen students is discouraged.
We’ll get this new book this year yet it is out of date already.
We have to move on from the book as a constriction in the stream of knowledge to a living, pre-print vibrant thing.
Twitter for e-learning?
I feel like a kazoo player in front of the Great Whirlitzer organ.
Reading ‘Twitter for Dummies’ doesn’t help, but I am trying to master LinkedIn, WordPress and Facebook at the same time. Which strikes me as trying to learn to play the violin, oboe and piano at the same time as having to conduct.
Thus far I manage the following:
- Compose blog in WordPress.
- If it is OU related add the appropriate #.
- May also add ^JV
I’ve been doing this for the ‘Made in Britain’ series with Evan Davies which starts on Monday with Business School input.
My handle in Twitter is JJ27VV. Someone had my name. This has stuck for a few years.
As I get my head around the OUBS website and this content is refreshed I and others authorised/enabled to do so, will Tweet pertinent content too.
Adding to the noise? Or or value? A must have … because everyone else is doing it?
I may Tweet things I find of interest, adding the hashtag or not. I am just as likely to ‘Share’ by sending the content to one of several WordPress blogs first.
There IS an educational value to this constant chattering, and that is to listen in and join conversations on something that is current.
So this week it might be conversations on m-learning. (A suffix that is likely to become more quickly redundant than e-learning).
I wish I had the details to quote the person properly but in an interview a few weeks ago someone said ‘research into a subject until the narrative reveals itself’.
I feel I have reached a stage where conversations that made no sense to me a year ago, now make sense and I can pick out threads, create my own narrative from it, even place the ‘level’ of conversation somewhere along that person’s learning journey so that I can compare it to mine.
This in turn, again, there is a person to quote … makes learning with this technology more akin to direct, face-to-face conversations that in the past would only be picked up by physically being on campus, in a student common room, lecture hall or tutor group.
The ‘democratization’ of education that I dismissed a year ago occurs because more often or not, the undergraduate gets to listen in and even join in discussion in the ‘senior common room,’ as it were.
This in turn picks up John Seely Brown’s idea of learning through participation, starting on the periphery whoever you are and through listening and engagement slowly being enrolled and brought into the group.
Off hand I can think of my brother who develop his passion for all things mechanical by watching his grandfather, then hanging around competent hobbyist mechanics, or pestering people who were servicing Mum’s car. He read the magazine, watch the TV shows, ‘listen in’ to the conversations and goings on around go-kart race tracks. He never had a lesson but is more than capable of rebuilding any car under the sun today.
On why you should think carefully before you consider delivering e-learning to mobile devices
A paper from the Instiute of Educational Technology (Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, 2011) on mobile learning is an important guide to any faculty thinking about making content available for smartphones or tablets.
Firstly, only 2% of our massive student population say they are using tablets, secondly only 11% say they use their smartphone.
So unless you give everyone an iPad or other device when they sign up ( an idea often thrown around) then you won’t have many using the things.
Need to write an assignment or exam paper?
I bought this in 2000 when I was thinking about an OU course. In February 2001 I signed up for the Masters in Open and Distance Education. We used First Class, it was loaded from a disk I think. Using a Mac might have been a problem, I was rarely online to follow the independent, spasmodic asynchronous threads.
Anyway, a decade later I am heading towards the finish line.
2001 wasn’t a good year for many of us … I did the first TMAs but was made redundant a couple of months before the TMA would have been due and had by then decided that doing less for a couple of years rather than more would be a good idea.
Anyway … despite having successfully negotiated two modules and six-eight TMAs and a couple of ECAs I find myself turning to Chapter 10 of the above.
‘Writing essays and assignments’
I love the way the book is laid out. I reads like is was designed to be web friendly with short sentences and paragraphs and bullet points galore.
We may be floating around in cyberspace 12 years on from the last edition of this book (first edition 1970), but is remains relevant, not just for preparing for an ECA, but for writing at all.
I like lines like this,’ After we’ve read, heard and talked about a topic, our minds are awash with ideas, impressions and chunks of information. But we never really get to grips with this experience until we try to write down our own version of it. Making notes is of some help, of course. But there is nothing like the writing of an essay to make us question our ideas, weigh up our impressions, sort out what information is relevant adn what is not – and, above all, come up with a reasoned viewpoint on the topic that we can feel it our own’. (Rowntrree. 1999:170)
- I will be probing
- I will develop a critical argument
- I will start tonight and write 500 words a night over six nights, then revist/redraft and pull it all together.
- I will have the evidence
- I will have the references in place
- I will plan, weigh up and select from the work that I have done (and that has been done in my tutor group)
- These will back up whatever themes or viewpoints or arguments I am putting forward
- I WILL write and outline and stick to it
- I will not become bling to better approaches that suggest themselves (which happened for one ECA and had me heading towards a 40 mark)
- And I will ‘write like I talk’ (which is what I’ve always done)
People before technology every time – manage these relationships first
Innovations are who and what we are as human kind. We will advance and trip over each other with each apparent theme or phase.
Web 2.0 or Web 3.0?
It makes no difference if you are unable to carry an audience, your public, your students. Whether they pay for it, or it is free. It comes down to the ability and enthusiasm of a group of people, sometimes the charisma of an individual.
I see learning environments rise and fall on the ability and availability of a single person, some systems flourish and expand – others wither.
Can one person duplicate and transmogrify into a dozen or more parts? Can others pick up on their enthusiasm and replicate it?
The technology is not a panacea.
It makes of us a village, a community … then we must behave as if we are in a village or community, which in turn requires that we know how, when and where to contact people and who we are dealing with.
Member Stories – Open University Business School voted fifth educational Business Superbrand – BusinessBecause
Member Stories – Open University Business School voted fifth educational Business Superbrand – BusinessBecause.
I’ve been sent this is a Google ALert several times which suggests the the OU UK is getting this PR shot in the right place. What interests me is if they are No.1. as a distance learning business school – this must sreuly remain the OU’s USP? Even if we see every-other university/college offering a distance learning/remote-e-learning business/leadership package of some kind.
Warwick University are the latest to join the distance learning offering.
This has to be a combination of a) people wanting and needing to study while in work and/or from home as well as tuition fees … though at the postgraduate level these would be substantial and self-funded anyway? And b) what the technology, and its inexpensive/ease of use qualities now can offer.
We live in fascinating and fluid times. As an outside I feel like a canoist in white-water … while these institutions, their departments and personnel are being tossed around in the maelstrom of change.