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An artist's love affair

I recently got into a discussion about the merits of Craftisan's visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum (V and A) in London, and it got me thinking how much inspiration and influence the contents of the museum has impacted on people from all over the world, for the last 166 years. How times have changed over that time, and not always for the better! The museum, to me, is the first source of research with any project. It is purpose built and houses over 5000 years of human creativity. If you have the ability to think outside of the box, it is a place of endless wonder. Don't just go to the obvious department relevant to your project, push the boundaries. Look at the beautiful, perfect form of Michelangelo's',' David' [replica], observe the colours in the Chinese textiles rooms, or study the bold, repeating patterns in the wrought iron halls. Whether you make sugar flowers or knit 3D flowers on a jersey, you might start at the same place looking at cherry blossoms woven into Chinese silk, but your path around the museum would be very different every time. I started to analyse how those two different journeys were repeats of countless previous wanderings, and how the multitude of various outcomes would ensure the continuity of the museum. This theory can be transferred to mankind's development.

The only different between everyone on this planet is about 5 feet (ish)...that's the difference in height from the shortest to tallest adult. We are all the same: we all eat, we all sleep and we all dispel waste, with slight medical defects, but the bottom line is, we are all homo sapiens, the same! However, ask any four people to independently go from the same point A to the same point B, they will each have a difference experience, noticing different things, moving at a different speed and focus on a different point whilst walking (or on wheels). However, ask the same four people to then travel from A to B together, and they will invariably move at the same speed and notice the same things. It is in our nature to move about and live in groups, creating tiny pockets of people with their own customs and family traditions. These idiosyncrasies come from imagination and creativity, and although many people say they are not creative or arty, the truth of the matter is, everyone is uniquely creative!

How each individual interprets their imagination, (which at the end of the day is just the blue prints for something you will do), the result is creativity. Obviously circumstance, geological location and age will vary imagination ie creativity, how can it not? A teen from a wealthy family in New York, privately educated with skiing trips in the Catskills and Labour Day weekend in The Hampton's is going to see the world very differently from a teen in a war zone, who has lost all his family, friends and home. Whilst one will be thinking about what cocktails to have at an exclusive party, the other would be wishing to be sat helping his mother in the garden, surrounded by fruit trees and pets. Equally a wealthy teen in a rich, Eastern country would think very differently from a homeless teen living in Central Park, (both examples of circumstance varying imagination). Even the difference between the two who were well-off would be vast, as would the differences between the two destitute teens, (both examples of location varying imagination), proof that your surrounding will impact your imagination and influence your creativity.

Being able to take those blue print imaginations and produce a made item comes about when a culmination of different skills are combined together. This is a craft. When colour, form, texture and composition are all combined, a hand-crafted item is made. With millions of ideas, material combinations and colour palettes thought about every day, why is it that so much of contemporary craft looks the same? I believe it is because everyone buys their raw materials from the most convenient supplier, and as high street craft supplies are so readily available from nationwide chain stores, many things are identical and a lot of uniqueness has been lost. I also believe creativity in the hand-crafted industry is a little lack-lustre at the moment. Before the internet, people actually made their crafts from scratch with maybe some raw materials from local suppliers, making new crafts unique and different. Go to any craft fair today, and you will see a full range of wares, many using the same supplies. I set out to make things that I knew no one else could possibly make, by using my own drawings, advanced colour theory, extensive raw materials research, not cutting costs with the quality of raw materials and hours of product development, all qualities acquired from countless visits to the V and A. Without my experiences to this museum I would not have learnt to push the boundaries, set impossibly high goals or achieved a unique brand.

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