As I write this I’m on holiday in Barcelona at the moment. It’s an exciting city to see if you are of an artistic persuasion. The city had been changed through decades of different fashions and architectural styles, so that buildings that are very old, very new and very bold may sit within walking distance of each other. The city is famous for the sweeping curves of the Guadi archetecture, but the city also houses many hidden artistic gems. I’ve stumbled upon a number of really nice pieces of street art like the piece above. It’s the ideal place for a Magpie to be inspired.
In the airport on the way here I saw a magazine called ‘Origami therapy’. A very quick flick through revealed that the magazine was a series of origami projects, which were all challenging and looked nice to do. But it wasn’t therapy. I’m quite bothered by the new trend of packaging up a few artistic projects and calling them therapy. Yesterday while I was walking around the city I was trying to work out why that was, given that many of the posts on this blog concern the relationship between art and psychology or wellbeing. The first reason I think is that therapy, including art therapy, is a delicate process that requires the skill of a trained therapist. Buying a magazine at the airport will not do for you what a therapist will. It just won’t.
The second is a bit more abstract, but bare with me. Walking around Barcelona yesterday I got the sense of a city where art is part of everyday life. There are many little shops selling creative products, and sculpture in every park. I get the sense here that art could be for everyone. In the UK we used to have a great tradition of making things. Clothing, food, furniture, ships, cars, trains, bridges, art and steel, energy – you name it, we made it. I think over the last thirty years we got sold the idea that the average person’s role in society was to buy things. To be a consumer. At the same time there has been a shameful neglect of investment in our manufacturing industries. We effectively sold our Makers down the river. I can’t help but feel like the UK as a nation is suffering a kind of spiritual malaise at the loss of our identity as Makers. I feel that art, and making should be part of normal everyday life. By packaging it up as something that you do for therapy makes, symbolically it becomes less a routine part of a rich and productive life and more something you do only because something is wrong. I frequently Make because something is right.
Make in the bad times, yes. Make in the good times too. Make because something needs Making.