Written by: Courtney Duncan
Ideas and creative passions come and go like the tide. One moment ideas are plentiful and bounce around our heads like a technicolour explosion. But sometimes, and perhaps more often than we would like to admit, our minds are barren and dry with little colour or movement. This is the turmoil of an artist but also humans in general. We live in an era where we are bombarded by multiple streams of communication and activity. We are constantly looking for the next best thing. We are almost becoming desensitised to information. For example, my Instagram feed is filled with amazing photographs taken in the most astonishing ways or by extremely talented people. However, we are living in a time of fast-consumption, similar to fast-fashion or fast-food, we consume data and information in a similar model. While I appreciate the work and photos on my feed, it is not until reflection that I start to question if my one to two-second glance at a photo and noting its beauty before burying it with another 50 photos can really be called that. If you compare the way in which we approach galleries or museums, there is a very different pace. Someone will casually and slowly make their way over to a piece of art and scan its entirety, down to the little description on the side. We may stand for seconds or minutes, yet this slow perusal is markedly different from an online viewing, or at least in the case of me and my friends. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to how we should view art but it definitely raises an interesting prompt.
However, it is this fast consumption and the repetitive scanning for something ‘new’ that makes anyone nowadays, discontent to sit in stillness. The dreaded boredom creeps in, claws reaching around you due to a lack of stimulation. The reason I bring this up in relation to feeling uninspired is that I believe feeling unimaginative is our critical threshold of consuming information. Allow me to explain: after consuming information from the internet or for work we feel exhausted burnt-out and tired. We feel uninspired to do anything, whether that be art, reading or even experiment with cooking. We want to vegetate on the couch and allow our brain to switch into standby mode, allowing external inputs to drift in and out of our conciseness. As an unprofessional artist and student myself, I have these feeling regularly. It is a part of life, everyone’s life. This reflection is to provide some solidarity between artists, students, cooks, technicians or whoever you are. Life is hard but wonderful too. We have everything at our fingertips but also just out of grasp. We work to live and live to work. We are cyclical beings and must recognise the power of rest and quiet in order to recharge and begin the cycle anew.
It is also important to recognise the difference between this uninspiring threshold and a lack of motivation. Forgive me for forgetting who or where I heard this from, but I vividly remember reading an author’s acknowledgement that broached this point perfectly. The author wrote acknowledgements to the people in their lives that urged them to keep writing. They said that while he is a writer by trade if he only wrote when he wanted to or was feeling inspired he would have never made it past Chapter 1. I think this is a very important thing to admit. The majority of books we read are the culmination of long hours of toil motivated by their overall goal to complete it or to share a particular idea. It places our own lives and work in perspective that even those we hold higher than ourselves need to work at producing something. Therefore if you are struggling with something or you feel like your world is barren and dry, I propose you take a step back, take a rest, and approach it with a rested and, hopeful, brighter mind.
If you are in need of a quieter mind, I hope you enjoy this very tiny story that drifted through my subconscious one day: A story about a little girl frolicking in the fields. - This is an abstract piece.
The Balloon Tree
I was walking down a whispering road. All the trees around me singing their own song.
I was reaching the end of the road. Nothing stretched before me, just empty fields, a vast sea of purple and red dots in amongst the golden gleam of wheat. The sunlight bounced off the small packets of seed to generate the world. All that sewn onto a single strand.
My eyes relaxed as they searched the horizon. Barren. No... Something slender with a wide top. A tree. I raced over and walked around it twice before I was satisfied with its width. It towered above me, strong, beautiful and imposing. Its branches could cover all the people in the world. I snuggled down in between two giant roots. I could feel the warmth coursing through me from the sun-drenched trunk.
That was the last thing I remembered before I fell into the most wonderful sleep. I woke up from the gentle breeze blowing around the sides of the tree. It was so peaceful to just lie here. The wind blowing through the grass, tickling my legs and face. A small white fly drifted past me. It wasn't a fly but a mini hot-air-balloon. The basket of seeds attached to small elegant hairs as white as snow, reflecting the ever-present sun’s glare.
I searched the soft ground for the source of this mystical balloon. There, in the middle of a small clearing! An elegant disco ball and in its centre under the strands of white hair, a core as shiny as a hungry lion’s eye. There was a strong gust of wind that shook the little plant as if an earthquake rocked the world. The small capsules dispersed, floating high into the sky, carried by the breath of the earth.