Wednesday 10 June 2020

A creative tip that might just change me for good! Moira Butterfield

This blog is short because it contains one important message about creativity that I think could provide invaluable for me and perhaps for you, too.

I heard it on Grayson Perry’s Art Club, which I’ve been enjoying on Channel Four for the past few Mondays (the last one was on June 1st). Each week the public were asked to send in their own lockdown art on a specific theme, some of which was chosen to be part of a future exhibition. Grayson and his partner Philippa Perry both worked on pottery in their studio (I did have workspace envy), and talked to artistic celebrities. (That bit was slightly annoying because celebrities - usually comedians - have to be shoehorned in everywhere on TV, but that’s the way of things.)  

I was interested in the varied creative ideas that people offered and the interviews with members of the public that Grayson did via computer screen. They were both insightful and emotional. In particular there was an inspiring blind artist who responded in her work to the shadows she encountered, and an autistic boy who made very imaginative monster figures.

I even tried some performance art of my own, filmed by my bemused son, and though it didn’t get to the show it provided a morning of fun.

Grayson wasn’t afraid of trying new ideas and perhaps failing.
  “I did feel quite vulnerable making that,” he said when he tried drawing a portrait of his wife and making it into a plate. “We have to be open and be prepared to fail.”

One of Grayson Perry’s comments really struck home with me, and it’s one I intend to hold on to.

“If we get imposter syndrome it means we’re trying something new.”

I love that. It turns the imposter syndrome (that familiar feeling that you can’t do something) on its head and makes it into a positive forward-engine instead of a roadblock.

Like most writers I know I regularly wonder how on Earth I’m going to do something I’ve said I would do – even after years of writing. In fact, as Grayson Perry points out, it’s a consequence of propelling myself forward by trying new ideas. I do sometimes fail and get ideas knocked back regularly, but I do strive to be forward-thinking. In fact if I didn’t get that imposter syndrome feeling at some point when I’m developing a project, perhaps it signals that I’m being a bit too smug and liable to coast along producing the familiar.

Next time I think 'I can’t possibly do this’ I’ll be translating it into ‘Well done. You’re progressing, not stagnating!’

Moira Butterfield
Twitter @moiraworld
Instagram @moirabutterfieldauthor 

Moira’s latest book for children – A Trip to the Future - will be published in July by Templar.  It's illustrated by StudioFago and it is filled with the new because it imagines the science, engineering and creativity of the future based on today’s scientific breakthroughs. It's for children aged 8+ who are learning science, design and technology and it aims to inspire them to think in new ways, 


Sue Purkiss said...

A very useful thought!

Nick Garlick said...

I feel like this so often. But, at the same time, it does tend to make me ask myself how I can make something different, and not settle for my first - often very uninspired - idea.

Moira Butterfield said...

Exactly, Nick! It can be made to become something positive.

Tracy Darnton said...

I loved this programme too, Moira. We need more programmes like this celebrating creativity. We found his comment that portraits don’t have to be ‘photographic’ (I paraphrase) but are better if they tell you something really freeing and all painted one!

Unknown said...

I usually get very excited about the idea and then when it comes to starting the research become quite anxious so this spin is really helpful. Also I am bad at accepting rejection - although I keep thinking Beatles, Fred Astaire and JK Rowling - if an idea is rejected I tend to think it is worthless and dismiss it when often it just needs
a tweak or a bit of a rethink.

Moira Butterfield said...

Yes - it's worth doing that rethink because it's all progression!

Penny Dolan said...

I found the attitude of Grayson Perry - and Phillipa too - extremely warm, supportive and encouraging. Thank you for the reminder of this treasured programme.

ps.I'd have welcomed less of the comedians too.

Unknown said...

What a great post, Moira - came along just at the right time for me, when I'm starting something new!
Thank you - and Grayson Perry!

Anne Booth said...

I loved that series too during lockdown, and that quote is so helpful!

michelle lovric said...

Really helpful. I so enjoyed the laidback assumption behind the programme that art is simply essential and part of one's life. I am occupying the seesaw of frantic writing for a few hours and then frantic recriminations for the next hours. Too often it seems like a confidence trick both on oneself and the world - to actually put something out there. Who will see through you first - the editor, the public or yourself? So the Grayson quote is a shot in the arm.