I’ve had rather a large sort through my creative archives in the last few days and I’ve been rediscovering drawings and designs from the last twenty years and more. I’ll share some of those finds another time. Amongst the formal sketchbook projects and portfolio sheets from art college days I found an old handmade notebook I used to record my photographic experiments and darkroom technical details / testing in. With it’s silver cover I chose to use, especially fitting with photographic techniques, I was reminded so distinctly of the days I spent in the dark room at Leeds College of Art and Design testing ways to create images and pattern – I could almost feel my Doc Martin boots on my feet!
The book reminds me of the hours I ‘played’ with creative and technical processes, with no sense of employ-ability issues burning, and I can’t really remember many project deadlines or talk of Learning Outcomes but assume there must have been. Those hours helped me to work out what I wanted to do, what sort of design language I would develop, and how my designs fit in the real world. Even now I can look back to that book and see creative sparks being established that have continue with me and what focuses my practice today. I feel lucky.
It’s having this time to experiment and nurture creative ideas that all students at all stages of education need to have access to in order to understand the possibilities of aesthetics, innovation and design. This can’t be rushed and won’t be replaced if lost. It’s not just the artists and designers that lose out, its everyone! Maybe politicians who lack the understanding and foresight to retain sufficient art and design in formal education ought to consider how their material worlds came to be. It certainly isn’t all about money, even if it is beautifully designed and printed money!
This isn’t meant to be a rant, but somehow this luxury of creative time I remember having shouldn’t be considered a luxury, it’s a necessity, and my small silver notebook reminds me of the importance of learning time. We all need things designed and made, from the fork you eat with, to the car you might drive, and wouldn’t it be good if those things could be the best they could possibly be, and beautiful too, given half the chance! It’s no surprise to me that brilliant artists and designers don’t wake up one day, fully formed and ready for the off… It would be like a politician having had no time to live and work in the real world before becoming an expert on how to run the country for the rest of us.