Today I have a guest post by Carolyn Schofield who generously donated to my daughter’s crowdfunder (see my post ‘Can I Tell You a Story?‘) in return for the opportunity to become a guest blogger here at Top Floor Treasures. This is her first post in a series of six. Carolyn intends to use her blog posts to talk about using art therapeutically and about encouraging people of all ages to use arts and crafts to express themselves. Over to you Carolyn…
There is a well-known and unattributed quote that goes, “The Earth without art is just Eh”. Without art and creativity our world is bland and grey. The process of creating something, whether it is handicrafts or visual arts, or writing, enriches us as individuals. Even if you are ‘no good’ or ‘know nothing about’ art you can still enjoy it and be creative.
I grew up in the sixties. Art was something children did on the table at home on top of plenty of newspaper, or it was what you did in art lessons at school. Otherwise it was done by special people called ‘artists’ whose work hung in galleries, or in reproduction on living room walls. Grown-ups didn’t do art where I came from. Some might go to evening classes to be taught how to do it properly, but most grown-ups did practical things like knitting or DIY. If you were creative you might do photography, but that was also quite practical as you used it to document friends and family.
I loved art at high school, however I dropped it when I chose my qualifications because what I had gathered from my formative years was that art was not important. It was ‘messing around’ rather than being creative. So when the time came to decide what to study, I chose what I considered serious, academic subjects.
Once I had children I encouraged them to create art, and it was as a result of this continuing interest in creativity that when they were in their teens I got a job leading arts based workshops for children. It happened because the person who interviewed me wanted people to lead workshops rather than just assist with them and on the spur of the moment I came up with an idea of teaching children to do sugarcraft and sweet-making.
As a result I was asked to help out at other workshops: my favourite (though it was quite stressful at the time) was when I was part of a team making banners to decorate the town I lived in at the time, Whitby. The banner I made with the children of East Whitby school turned out so well it was given a prominent place near the harbour. Sadly our project funding ran out after three years, and in a small town during an economic downturn there was nowhere to source the money to keep going.
I structured the sugarcraft workshops to allow for as much personal creativity as possible: I remember watching one group of girls who were fascinated with experimenting how food colouring worked through fondant icing. Too much education is about tests, and the arts and creativity gets squeezed out. For some children making something (or even just ‘messing around’) is a welcome respite from a goal-oriented school culture; after even a few weeks learning basic sugarcraft they got the idea that cookery can be enjoyable and creative and I hasten to add this was several years before the advent of ‘The Great British Bake Off’!
“Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.”
– Robert Motherwell
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Despite everything I thought I knew as a child I discovered that art is valuable; it is also serious and worth spending time on. I became so enthusiastic about art I did a degree in the History of Art. Over the years I have met many people who have made art a massive part of their lives and who love to create. In these guest posts I want to share the stories of some people I know well who, in a variety of different ways have found a way to acknowledge their creativity.
I cannot imagine living a life without art: it would be impossible.