2017 begins

New year, new ideas, old values – still learning.

The year has begun. Daily doses of narcissistic political news balance erratically with an internal sense of healing and just a bit more letting go.  Diversity and citizenship has always been something I have keenly supported. This year, the important connection between being a fair, caring person and your participation in play and creativity, including reading, has become heightened for me.

Empathy is a strength. You might learn it from being part of a sports team, or from reading stories of other people’s lives, or listening to songs… It is an essential element for society, and it seems inherently, or perhaps more overtly diminished, at least in the public sphere.

Creativity is something each of us expresses in the way we choose, move, what we decide, how we think though a situation, and the way we choose our words, our expression, our clothes, the colours we have around us. Creativity is not value driven, though it can be strongly influenced by environment and genes.

I have seen a lot of art in the last few months. And read amazing books. Art on plates in great restaurants, the clothes people wear and the way they express their attitude in their movement or speech. I have seen exhibitions that overwhelmed me with ideas and ways of thinking – individually very special, and collectively representative of a tiny but significant sample of our visual culture. Art in design, feeling the comfort of a new piece of clothing, or an old chair; sitting in a car that has been carefully, thoughtfully designed; seeing myriad of images I consume every day online. The incredible music I have been so lucky to hear. Art in the producers and artists I am fortunate to know.

For each expression or product shows you, if you slow down and think it through, that’s just the completed part of the process. You may not see the other 95%. The parts of the process that were discarded along the way, you won’t see the other attempts in the practice and development of the idea. You won’t see the planning and training, but if you open up to the work, you will feel the experience and care.

This summer has brought bewildering change and an opportunity to reflect on core values. Regardless of the changes in the world, I remain myself, still getting to know myself. Working out how to care for myself properly, with a little help. Still listening to the people as they express themselves. Still seeking truths in art and re-examining my own creativity.  Feeling unsettled but also enjoying not really knowing what I’m doing next.

Working life at the moment: contracted to QUT as a copy writer and writing training coordinator until end June 2017; writing grants and proposals for clients who are able to work a long way out from deadline; and waiting to realise what I need next.


The magical room in GoMA Turns 10 exhibition – 38 talking sticks from Arnhem Land C2010.

By Ann McLean


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