I used to think boredom was a privilege.
In some contexts, I still have this view. However, the current situation has allowed me to realise that behind this thought was an assumption. Everyone finds it easy to be creative.
The word boredom used to remind me of Angelica from the Rugrats (good times). An ungrateful person with too much stuff and too much time. Someone who expects to be entertained. However, as we sit in the depths of social distancing, I see the word in a new light. Boredom is the elephant in all our rooms. It’s wearing a mask. It smells of hand sanitiser. It keeps asking if we’ve got enough toilet paper.
As we know, this time is extremely difficult for everyone particularly for those who were already vulnerable when things were “normal”. Many artists have taken an immense blow. But instead of dwelling on that. I would like to make this a positive post. I would like to write an ode to creativity.
Creativity as form of self-care
So often, I forget to use my artistic tools to make myself feel happy. Too often I am the working artist-producer who doesn’t switch off.
On the second day of the lock-down, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up feel really disorientated. So… I got my notebook and did a freewrite, did some yoga, cooked a beautiful fermented broth for breakfast, I made a new pickle jar, ordered a circular 1000–piece puzzle and signed up to an online Vogue workshop.
I’ll stop there. But put it this way, from then until now I’ve done and watched a lot of “artsy” stuff. The point is not how much stuff I’ve done. The point is that I feel happy. I’ve filled my time. I’ve made each day feel different. I’ve been creative for me and no one else. Now you don’t have to do any of that if you don’t want to, but please find solace in the fact that you can. Take control of your day. You have the power to make something out of nothing. And you don’t have to share it.
Creativity as entrepreneurship
I’ve realised two things in this time.
1) It’s creativity that is going to get us through thing.
2) It’s creativity that is going to sort us out when we’re on the other side of it.
(Again, there is a lot to be said about the ethics, politics and economics attached to that.) But on a personal level, how powerful does it feel to know that we can visualise what this could mean for us? I’m genuinely excited for the new ideas, literature, music, performance platforms, working structures, social enterprises, etc. that will come out of this!
Whilst I was checking in with my nephew, who is an amazing videographer and visual artist from London, he told me that he is using this time to focus on making animation work; since he cannot work with people in the room. He is finally getting the time to merge his Fine Art background with his commercial work. I can’t wait to see what he comes up it.
Like many of us, I have lost a lot of gigs. But instead of waiting for the domino effect to continue, I reached out to commissioners and programmers before they messaged me. I’ve managed to turn some of my lost gigs into new conversations, online workshops, etc. It may be that you need to take on a non-artistic job for a period but that does not stop you from being an artist.
Entrepreneurship is a mentality. This is the time to be creative! How often do we walk into a room not knowing? We don’t know where we’re going to get the money from to make the show work. We don’t really know what we’re doing. Sound familiar? And then boom! You have a show and people are clapping! You know that sounds familiar. As creatives, I know that we’ve got this lockdown on lock!
Creativity as hope
As we try to flatten this curve, it is hard to know what we can look forward to. Many of us have been looking to the news updates to keep us rightly connected and informed. But I’ll be honest. I’ve switched off. Uncertainty can be a repetitive, manipulative, panic-stricken news headline or it can a beautiful, meandering, melody of unknowing. I’m here for the latter.
I’ve tapped into various podcasts and video conversations over this period – from Riz Ahmed’s – The Long Goodbye series to Rikki Beadle-Blair‘s Zoom masterclasses and the brilliant Cosmic Shambles podcasts. It has been a blessing to listen to artists processing this whole situation in real time.
So… I used to think boredom was a privilege. Because to me boredom means you’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what you’re doing and what you want. But I appreciate it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to do something about it. So, it’s not boredom that is the privilege. It’s the creativity that comes with it. But creativity does not just belong to artists. Finally! There is a privilege that we can all access. And it has the answer to the question. What is there to look forward to?
Look forward to yourself and the world you want to see on the other end. The unknown is a table. Boredom is our tablecloth. Uncertainty is our bread and butter. Creativity is your mouth. Give thanks and eat.
Now that’s enough from me. I’m off to make a Sarawak kaleidoscope cake and fail deliciously. Like all good artists do. Peace!
Lockdown Playlist – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4qxnMd5l8tPtf2DhnCWYT3
In My House – Little Dragon
Alone & Unafraid – Eliza
We Are the People – Iggy Pop
Alright – Kendrick Lamar
North West – Contours
Connecta – Swindle (DJ Q remix)
Kraft – Chassol
Everyone’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) – Baz Luhrmann
Don’t Run into The Darkness – Jon Bap
Stay High – Brittany Howard