I’m really enjoying the way that the ideas in Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth chime with those in Art and Fear (see previous posts too). And the way that, each time I refer back to both texts, different ideas seem to spring out at me. It must definitely depend on my state of mind – or what stage of the creative cycle I’m on.
I’ve been pondering process: the difference between the stuff I like making for relaxation and the stuff that I make as part of my textiles degree seems to come down to process. In Mau’s words – Number 3:
Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
When I sit down to knit a blanket (I only do straight lines), the process is utterly straight forward and I know where I’m going. When I tackle an assignment for my textiles degree, I’m finding the most exciting things happen when I don’t try to anticipate the visual outcome but follow the process where it leads. That’s a hard thing to adapt to after a lifetime of planning. But it’s also a liberating new way of looking at the world. When it’s really working, it’s the most exciting thing – to be surprised by what you have made is a wonderful thing.
And then to pay attention to what you have made. I’ve only just started to cotton on to this. Gordon Baldwin talked about ‘having a dialogue’ with the ceramic pieces he was making as they evolve. In Art and Fear, the authors advise:
Make objects that talk – then listen to them.
A few weeks ago this wouldn’t have made sense to me. But with my most recent piece for my degree (details pictured), the conversation has kept going weeks after I ‘finished’ it – the drawings and ideas and realisations keep coming. Not because it’s great Art (yet!) but I think because I followed Mau’s advice on process.