Thursday, 4 March 2010

Creating Moments

You can create moments in your life or you can hope they show up once in a while - Tony Robbins

I made the decision in February to do something different and give myself a new experience every month. To seize the day, as it were.

I was prompted to do this when I attended the opening of my sister-in-law's exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. The exhibition had attracted a lot of media attention because the main star of the attraction was the bronze cast of a "flayed man" which has been used by Edinburgh College of Art as an anatomical teaching tool. After twenty years of drawing this unidentified man both as a student and a lecturer, Joan got together with an anthropologist and a photographer and set about discovering his true identity. The full story can be read in the
Scotsman article The Art Of Anatomy
but to cut a long story short, the man was a highwayman hung for robbing gentry in 1776, and because he had been a soldier and was a fine specimen of a man, his body was flayed and a cast made to be used in teaching anatomy.

The exhibition was fascinating and I noticed in the programme that Joan was holding an art class the following Saturday for people who wished to understand more about anatomy and the art of drawing the human body.

Now, I am useless at drawing. Not just bad, but useless. At school, people laughed at my efforts and I quickly took on the label of "I'm not creative".

Actually, many years later, I decided that I am creative. I can sing and dance, I speak four languages, I can put promotional material together and I can write (to a certain extent). But I can't draw.

So I gaily recruited a friend (who can draw) to go along with me and we turned up at the gallery raring to go. Joan told us the background of the cast, and talked us through the anatomy, pointing out the different textures and directions of the muscles, the tendons, the facial characteristics.

We sat on our stools and got drawing. And it was fantastic. Peaceful. Joyful. Creative. And Liberating. Because, whilst my effort was more Hooch than Turner, my attempt wasn't half bad.

I finally shook off my 'I can't draw' label that I have been carrying around for the best part of forty years. And I enjoyed it so much that I returned in the school holiday week with two friends and our four children, ranging in ages from 7 to 13, and we all spent a focused couple of hours totally lost in the moment. Just drawing.

Click on photos to enlarge
It was unanimously voted as the best activity we had done that week.
So February's new experience was drawing. Now I have to set my sights on March.

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