Ones personal truth is always mute – when it is truly expressed it is communicated in silence – and if one really has to speak what results is the translation of that silence into pictures, music, dance and other creative acts – personal, social and institutional. Every dream is a plan that lends itself to enactment in the outside world, behind every enactment in the outside world there is a dream – or a picture, a note, a movement a thought, an idea – or perhaps something that is only waiting to be discovered. James Hillman at a recent lecture quoted Keats as saying – that which is creative must create itself. Creativity arises from itself, you can’t learn it, explain it, teach it – it comes upon one and creates stillness and a presence where the images and colours take on a life of their own. One becomes obsessed by it and it is creates an urgency and demands that have to be satisfied, one cannot avoid it, it has to be done. Before we talk about this aspect lets first enlarge on a few of the things James Hillman says it is not.
We like to think that every child is filled with creative potential that is extinguished by TV, parental control, so that as adults we go around feeling that there is a book inside one if only one could get it out. Self expression of personal ideas and emotion do not necessarily go hand in hand with creativity which goes beyond the personal. The test lies in how relevant it is to the collective mind.
The second mistake is to think that creativity is linked only to art, music and drama – this ignores the rest of creativity which manifests in business and technology. Creativity releases itself in many fields of activity. People say to me why do you have a marketing college when you can paint, the answer is very simple; creating an organization is a creative act, each relationship can also be a creative act.
Confusion lies also in equating creativity with production, creating objects that can be judged Creativity is an end in itself. Just being in it is enough. Rather like meditation the presence is enough, for me with painting I get the added benefit of the image and the colours forming them themselves out of the silence. I would imagine musicians experience the same process as do dancers and actors and so on.
Creativity needs also not be confused with the word good – all creativity is not good- one only has to think of the atom bomb. The confusion of goodness comes from thinking that everything that god creates is good – therefore if we create then we are mimicking an act of god, therefore it must be good. Creativity can also be destructive. It can also have a dual face. With painting ones needs to harness sides, creativity and destruction.
Creativity must have a personal I that does the creating, in creativity “The I” has to be set aside, or at least not be in the way. Although at a recent art group we were encouraged to walk round with our pictures and say after the experience -“I did that. This is what I did.” But this owning comes after the event, part of the communication process that has nothing to do with the creativity itself. It is part of the selling process which is narrow and oppressive and focuses on the product. Creativity happens unobserved and without judgment. If creativity relied on judgment it would have to rely on the personal ego- the observer who is judging – this process would be destructive, here the observer and the observation is one. There is unity and no duality. Duality comes after the act; it is not part of the process.
The idea that creativity needs to be novel and new, new and improved. The Greeks looked at history as a process of decline and did not see society as progressing. The whole truth has already been revealed. Novelty means infidelity. How does one then create something new without loosing the original vision and getting back to it? The original vision is where one needs to start from.
Different artworks also help impregnate other works of creativity – for example I listen to music and that helps set off a hot spark, I dance – one image whether it be music, sculpture or art will set off another spark. Creativity then builds upon itself and continues to pressure one to move to the next work. The spark can also come from nature – child hood experiences of water, clouds and story telling impregnate the imagination and provide a grid on which to draw. Getting in touch with the imagination and the little people that inhabit it, is rather like dreaming, the images are able to do as they please, one has to trust the voices, the images, and the sounds and to allow them to come from themselves and not control what you want them to say. It is like a dream, one is in a group, and I am only part of the group. Other people in the group are also of value. So what comes first in a painting may not be the final image, as one has to allow other images to speak for themselves. This may involve destroying what has initially been created to allow creativity to reform itself and to recreate itself. In painting a picture this process can go on, over and over again, so that one learns that the act of creation is also one of destruction. The creator and the destroyer work hand in hand. One has to learn to live with that tension. As much as painting is a mirror that reflects who one is at a moment in time, the images and colours, which form the archetypal background to ones life and the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. The grid so to speak on which one is built, enabling one to battle with questions like chaos and control, black and white, dark and light, creation and destruction, duality and unity – the unification of opposites. Questions that flow from out of the paint into being itself, so the work is both mediation on life and a meditation where paint becomes an extension of psyche: one’s battle with ones soul. My paintings are reflections on life – childbirth, motherhood, fatherhood, relationships, meditation, spirituality, nature, sexuality and dying. The pictures reflect the temporal and the spiritual. The archetypal structure of psyche and the images it provides as we move through life, its seasons and its celebrations. Painting puts me in touch with my feelings and emotion – and this is a universal language, for example falling in love – a feeling that we think is all ours, is something that can afflict anyone, we all have suffered from the same symptoms – it is an emotional truth that can be shared. Instead of saying I am in love – perhaps one could say – there is love between us, how do we manage to keep it there. Some of the pictures try and capture these emotions. It is therapeutic to give an image to the emotion that one is expressing, so that at the same time one is working, one is working on ones emotions and differentiating and making it particular to myself. So that one is using the work as a discipline that is helping one to define and differentiate oneself, and also to get to the core of ones being so that one can reflect on ones anger, desire, attachment and so on, so that one sees oneself as being possessed by these emotions rather than being the possessor of them. One no longer identifies with them. So that one can give them up, they pass through one. Albeit, some may last a great number of years! The work does not happen over night. The image that is created gives a particular take to the emotion- often feeling that is given by the artwork is discovered that I was not aware was there. Sometimes one discovers and creates feelings that we did not know were there. Image making refines ones feelings. Being a member of any religion, involves one entering into the psychological development of the group. The journey one takes with the group through its rituals and as we do this we join the collective imagination as it makes its journey from birth towards death. It allows one to take on an imaginative identity, based on the cultural history and the metaphors within this history. These metaphors are used to communicate different psychological realities – from the cradle to the grave and beyond. We live therefore in a collective framework – and move within this framework, within the group in a symbolic way and largely unconscious of the metaphors that lie behind everyday life. We take those for granted, we take them as reality. And through this identification we live a mythological symbolic life. We live in the imagination. What happens when these cultural frameworks are removed, by assimilation or conflation where the “gods” of the dominant culture are merged with those of the weaker one? ; Or, simply through a lack of religious education, or unsuccessful initiation into the cultural symbols of the time? And this creates a situation where the symbols do not sink into the unconscious so that people are unable to live a symbolic life because they are alienated from the rules and regulations of the religion which is organized in a particular way. Does this mean that they are reduced to a life of materialism and deprived of a holy/ whole or symbolic life? My argument is that the psyche will then create its own movement and provide one with a range of symbols to lead and to guide their imagination and their soul in its own way. Instead of this being a collective path, one that is shared, it then becomes a journey taken in isolation, and is personal to the extent that its images arise of their own accord – sometimes these fit into collective metaphors and at other times they do not. Sometimes, if there are enough people who share them, a new religion or cult may be formed. The image of the spirit imprisoned in the darkness of the world, in a state of relative unconsciousness, needs to be able to be redeemed. This leads to the search for a uniting symbol. The imaginations sole search is to find this and when I look back at the paintings, most of the pictures reflect the image that united me at the time, created a sense of wholeness, refined my feeling, and gave me an understanding of what lay behind the experience, the instinct that was uppermost in my life. Rosie Phipps Oxford 2005