Yesterday I was at Marega Palser’s Mark Making workshop. It was such a joy taking part in. I think hat was most rewarding was being there with people I dance with and people from my MFA. Seeing everyone at the workshop thoroughly enjoying themselves, learning from each other and ‘mucking’ in regardless of their creative backgrounds. It has made me question why I perceive such a divide in the arts between the disciplines. Surely we ‘work’ in the same way; expressing ourselves through our creative outlet. Whether that outlet is our bodies (movement) or drawing, painting, sculptor, printmaking, ceramics, illustration, social engaged art, textiles the list is endless.
As a dancer, my training has always included discussion about art. I have studied the art movements such as DaDa, Minimalism, Surrealism Neo-Classicism to name a few, looking at what happened in regards to dance and music and art. These discussions always included dance being an art form and dancers being artists and how all disciplines fed and responded to each other. It wasn't until I left that these thoughts where challenged.
I have always referred to myself as an artist – it was common conversation at Laban; what is it to be an artist? We never thought that certain disciplines where included and that was what defined that artist status.
I decided to do a Fine Art Degree to discover and develop other parts of my creative self and my creative practice. I now perceive this as ‘crossing over’ to Fine Art and am I being forced to ‘leave’ my dance background??
Or maybe I am reading these questions wrongly?
In these studios (dance studio for those who need me to be specific) at the dance House on Cardiff Bay, regardless of our disciplines, the to and fro of response between marks and movement. It just got me thinking; why is there a divide between us? why do we not openly embrace our creativity?
Why, even in art do we divide ourselves, (perhaps therefore limiting ourselves) when we are supposedly expressive and openminded individuals.
Play is freeness in creativity. There can be a carelessness and breaking of boundaries. With the absence of fear and over thinking it leaves space for a flow in creativity, fun and laughter. All of these things can leave us to building new relationships wether they be with people or materials. We open doors to learning and expression that is just simply not possible without play.
It is not the first time that I have been reminded about the importance of play, especially within a creative practise. When I was training in Rubicon Dance in Cardiff. I remember starting our choreography classes, being given the space to create what ever we wanted. There were endless possibilities, we could create what ever we wanted, yet we all regurgitated the movements from technique class. Why??? the next time choreography came around, Paul (our teacher) took us outside to the children's play park opposite the building, with one simple instruction. Play.
Today my mind has been brought back to that day. As a few days ago me and my fellow MFA students had the most fun and arguably one of the most creative afternoons as a group through out the course so far. Poppy Jacksons workshop was a real eye opener. Giving us the opportunity to let go of inhibitions and explore ideas and ways of working that most of us hadn't done before and most of all HAVE FUN. Having expectations of an outcome erased allowed the exploration and play to be central to my creative process.
If this is the outcome of Play, then I cannot help to question why we do not make it a bigger part of our creative practises? I suppose I have myself to blame for it all, there is nothing to stop me from picking up some charcoal or paint and seeing what happens. Or spending a day in the park or Go-karting and seeing if that leads anywhere new... but it doesn't stop me from from wondering why the element of play is not incorporated into art courses more, if the outcome of it is so positive?
If I take one thing away from this, it will be to find an element of play at least once a week.
Jodi ann Nicholson
I am a multidisciplinary artist. my training started at the Contemporary Dance School, TrinityLaban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Continuing developing my creative practice at Cardiff School of Art and Design in their Masters in Fine Arts course.