“The thing we don’t have enough of is we don’t have enough connection – we’re lonely – and we don’t have enough time. And if people can offer us connection and meaning and a place where we can be our best selves, yes, we will seek that out. No, it probably doesn’t help you build a big, profitable public company, but yes, it helps you make a better difference to the community that you have chosen to live in.”
– Seth Godin
I have been feeling this lately… a deep desire for community and connection. When I first heard these words (spoken in an interview on Krista Tippett’s podcast, On Being), they spoke directly to my heart and shone a light on the work I feel passionately about.
So many of us are always in a rush, passing each other by on the school run, a fleeting, “How are you?” thrown to the wind as we dash off to our next commitment. There seems to be so little time to stop and hear the answer, or really share how we are feeling. It is all too easy to lose ourselves and to lose our connection with each other as we put jobs and kids first and our own needs and desires second. Being and artist or writer, or a stay at home Mum can be a lonely occupation and we all need to feel connected – it is vital to our wellbeing.
In all of the creative workshops I have run in the past few years, connection is one of the aspects people value the most. In talking about our ideas and our inspirations, our challenges and successes, we can deeper connect with those around us. Creating side by side and collaborating too are some of the most joyful activities we can engage in.
This week, my boys discovered an app with which they can make stop motion films on their mobile phones and the item that has long been the cause of disconnection has brought them closer together as they collaborated on small movies, drawing scenes on a white board, photographing each one and rolling them together into a mini movie. Tonight, small boy and I made one – me on the camera and he moving teddies slowly across the blanket that was our green screen.
In the Summer, my partner and his son worked together on a small and spontaneous project on the beach, gathering stones and carefully balancing them to create a stacked stone sculpture. It was a thing of beauty to witness… the connection between the two of them as they puzzled it out, piece by piece.
A couple of years ago, a friend and I rented a studio space together for a period of six months on Mondays. This was our time; our space. We showed up each week with a variety of materials and no particular idea of what we would create, but knowing that this was a little window in the week when we could be our best selves, free from all distractions, make art, drink tea and connect. It was bliss. We drew, we painted and we talked – deeply.
I know that you need time out too… time away from your busy daily routine; time to step back from responsibilities and commitments to others and do something for yourself. I know that I am a calmer, happier Mum and more focused in my work when I have taken time out to recharge.
This time of year, as the nights draw in, has long been the season when I feel the need to join a course and start creating. Perhaps it’s my way of bringing light to darker days – just as the brightest items of my wardrobe are worn on the greyest of days. It is also about connection… meeting people and creating together. I have taken courses in photography and massage, clay sculpture from life and so many others… there are so many courses and options out there. Many galleries also offer courses and creative evenings. The weekly Drop-In-Drawing classes at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of their Late Shift programme are brilliant and cost nothing!
This year, with my new expanded space here at home, I am feeling the urge to invite more creativity and connection into my own community. If you live in North London or within travelling distance, I would like to to offer you a place to come, create and connect, starting this coming Wednesday. I would like my newly extended home to be a space in which you can be your best self and find meaning. In her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown says, “If we want to make meaning, we need to make art.” This is your invitation.
There will be tea, coffee and materials you can use to draw and paint and make things.
When I ran classes here at home a few years back, my son loved it… even from his bed. “I love it when your friends come over Mum” he would tell me, “I can hear you laughing.” It’s the simplest things that connect us. Our children learn from what they see, more than what we tell them. I want to make tea, make friends, make art and I want the same for everybody. As in all of my courses and classes, I ask people to leave judgement aside – only kind self-talk – there are no mistakes where art is concerned and it is vital to have fun and experiment. Try something new, allow room for things to go wrong, adapt your technique accordingly and create something even better. In Art Club, we love a Happy Accident!
In art classes and daily, in person and on the internet, if you see someone creating something you love, tell them. If you are interested in their techniques, ask them how they do it. Compliments and curiosity can lead to connection.
Of course, I would love to see you here at home next Wednesday. If you can come along, book your place now. If you can’t come this time, please consider how you can facilitate creativity and connection in your community. A box of chalks in the park at the weekend is all it takes to spark a creative conversation.