Creativity is everything. It keeps me sane, and fills my soul with a joy that I cannot put into words. When I’ve been away from my workshop for too long, I get frustrated and my mind goes all over the place. That’s when I know I need some creative time.
It’s a powerful thing, to create. Making something can give you a sense of achievement, offer hours of escapism and, maybe best of all, it’s not something you can ever get ‘wrong’. No one would say to Picasso, for instance, ‘You haven’t painted a face. It doesn’t look like a face.’ Your interpretation cannot be wrong. And you’d never say to a child who’s drawn a crazy, colourful, scribbled picture of their family, ‘That’s not what they look like!’
The fact that true creativity can’t be wrong is one of the reasons that it’s so good for our health. I’ve seen simple creative projects bring joy to people in the lowest of spirits. Back when I did a lot of youth work, there was a teenager who’d been struggling with mental health for years. I taught her how to upcycle and, after a few weeks, she began to smile. Rather than focusing on her ‘issues’, being creative gave her space from them. Finding such an outlet for a person going through any kind of difficulty can turn their life around.
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I believe everybody is creative at heart. We all start out with the desire to make and create. As very young children, we all love to draw. But over time we shy away from our imaginative side. But it’s easy to get back into it if you want. Pick up an arts or crafts magazine, or try a workshop – learning directly from the experts is how I did it.
I’ve got a series of workshops coming up in my new Ironbridge studio that I’m super excited about. I’ve said before that I want to help preserve the age-old crafts that we have in this country and, as well as upholstery courses and a basic upcycling one, I also plan to run a series called the Red List Workshops. These will be put together with the Heritage Crafts Association, and will target those skills that feature on its Red List – traditional British crafts that are likely to disappear within a generation. We will ask craftspeople who specialise in these endangered techniques to come and share them.
My hope is that someone might get the bug for a particular old craft, and that could be enough to keep it alive. I not only want to bring joy to those who take the creative courses, but also to bring some critical crafts back from the brink.