As the first month of the new year, January often takes on a special significance in our minds. I’m not sure how unusual I am in this, but I love January. It is the one month of the year where I don’t feel under pressure to meet an impending deadline. It is the month where I get back to my creative work after a break for Christmas. In fact, it is usually some time since I have made any new work, because the last 3 months of the year are dedicated to packaging, labeling and selling work, so by the time January comes around I am raring to get into the studio and try out something new. As soon as the dreaded tax return is submitted, I’m off to play with paper and paint.
January also marks the birthday of Creative Bristol, and on 21st of this month we will be 3 years old. Creative Bristol came out of my own experiences of taking part in the rich creative culture of Bristol and a desire to share the vast array of classes, clubs and events in art, craft and design that take place in the city. I am so pleased to see how many people have found the information on this website, our Facebook page and Twitter useful. As I write, there are around 6,000 people engaged with this project in some way or other. Thank you to all of you.
Creative Bristol is an unfunded community project run by just me. I am a artist, designer and maker – only recently having the great fortune to dedicate my life to my creative work. Before this I was an academic – a psychologist working in a university, teaching and doing research. This background in academic psychology informs everything that I do – in my own creative work and in the Creative Bristol project. I don’t just create – I reflect on issues such as why we create, the nature of the creative process, and how the creative culture of Bristol has evolved in the way that it has.
People who know a a bit about Bristol often see it as a creative city. Listen to BBC Radio 6 Music for half and hour and you are very likely to hear a contribution from someone (very often a creative person) in Bristol. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is looking forward to the 6 Music Festival coming to our city in February – I think Bristol is just the right sort of place to hold an event like this. Paul Rodgers, Head of Programmes for 6 Music, said:
“It’s great that Bristol is the host city for the 6 Music Festival 2016. At BBC Radio 6 Music we celebrate music with an alternative spirit, and Bristol, with its unique music and arts scene and many important venues, is a wonderful place to do that. “
The publicity around this festival offers the opportunity to look at our city from the outside and to think about what makes Bristol the creative place that it is. Not surprisingly, when the location of the festival was announced, it was the street art culture of Bristol that became the focus of the coverage, with Bristol-born Banksy being such a well-known figure. Clearly, Bristol is much more than a centre for street art, but perhaps street art serves as a useful manifestation of the creative spirit of Bristol. In other words, what Bristol does so well is to get creative projects going, from the ground up – not waiting for some kind of ‘establishment’ to give it the go-ahead. Street artists choose a spot and create a piece of work. That piece is on display immediately (there is no process of submitting work to a judging panel and waiting to see if you can exhibit in the gallery). When another street artist decides to paint in the same spot, the previous piece is gone, with no enduring evidence of its existence (except possibly a photograph taken by a passer-by).
When I reflect on the creative culture of Bristol I see lots of small acts of creativity, begun with passion and an independent spirit, grown from the ground up, organically, by people who believe in what they are doing – and want to share it with others. Some of these creative projects last only a short time and others endure a little longer. Projects start, develop and evolve, and take on a different form. Since Creative Bristol began in 2013 I have been delighted to share new venues and initiatives in art, craft and design. And some of those that were listed here in 2013 are no longer with us – at least not in their original form. One example is Heart Space Studios in Redland. This textile art hub was opened by Janet Haigh in 2011 and has run workshops, clubs, exhibitions and a shop for the last 5 years. Over that time the project has evolved and, now that the building in which it based is to be sold, it is taking on a different form, with various aspects of the project being developed separately by those people who are passionate about them.
When it comes to my own work, I find that my own creative evolution is a constant revelation. Things that seemed impossible a few years ago begin to happen. The person I am constantly evolves. Even working on the same project feels different with every week that goes by. Treating everything as an ‘experiment’ frees up possibilities and helps to push away doubt. I feel excited about the work that I will make in 2016 and I feel very excited about sharing the creative culture of Bristol with you. I already have a number of exciting creative projects to tell you about in the coming year, and if you would like me to share something about art, craft and design in Bristol, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me about it.