Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I think it's time to put inspiration in its place.

In one week, I heard the word ‘permission’ used twice by two different art educators. Once was to describe using a sketchbook through the MOOC I am doing. Another occasion used by the teacher of my evening class on art, in reference to creating without a plan. I found it interesting that they both used that word: ‘permission’. It’s a gentle word, a considered ‘yes’with a gentle hush to it. Don’t ‘force’ or ‘try’ but ‘give yourself permission’ to work, to do. That’s the problem with inspiration, it denies us permission. Should we throw ourselves at the mercy of inspiration, we might never create anything. Inspiration says we should not work but wait and wait and if nothing comes then it is because we are not ‘good’ at whatever it is we're trying to do.

Inspiration is also, I think detrimental to the notion of education and teaching.   Some teachers see themselves as central to the learning process, they feel that it is up to them to inspire their students. I find fault with this. If you as an educator are trying to fill your education with pizazz and 'jazz hands', students become passive, back seat drivers to their own learning. Why bother to be curious when your teacher is going to present what they think is important, and only if they present it in a charismatic way will you sit up and take notice? Educators put excessive amounts of pressure on themselves to perform sometimes, and in so doing lose sight of what is important, creating an environment of curiosity and choice making.Without ego, thanks very much.

From my first degree, I remember the teachers who had charisma coming out of their ears. I do not remember anything about what those charismatic teachers were supposed to be teaching me. It is the pointless performance that lingers.
Below is a picture of the permission I gave myself to hang my work, in a room and not care about how it looks. To me they are each mementoes of an occasion when I was doing something I loved. Each one is a snapshot of a journey I took, sometimes in a class, but it was always between me and the work.  The teacher just gave me an idea of a path to try.