Creating beyond silos

Creating beyond silos

Awakening the creative shadow in each of us.

Awakening the creative shadow in each of us.

Readers based in the UK may have come across the recent series of The Choir on the BBC, where Gareth Malone brought music-making into Aylesbury Young Offenders Institute. Over two episodes, young men who spent most of their days in prison cells, serving sentences for crimes committed at a young age, presented Gareth with what might have been his biggest challenge to date. As he adapted his practice, invested time in building relationships and shared with the young people his musical expertise as they shared their creative ideas and life experience with him, the change was palpable. One example was of a young man initially demonstrating resistance and rejection, soon expressing joy, play, artistry, critical thinking and leadership, as the creative act ensued. And the process was as much about Gareth’s learning as it was the young people’s.

My own access to the arts as a young person in the 1980’s was rich and varied. Living and being educated on the outskirts of London, gave me free access to some of the best arts experiences possible. Art, music, dance and drama were all part of the curriculum, with visits from professional artists and trips to central London theatres and galleries. Even in an environment where these activities were not as valued as sport or academic education, they were still firmly there. These experiences continue to feed my work now as a Researcher and Consultant at the Tavistock Institute.

However, not everyone has these opportunities or the support to access them as a child. Then, when it comes to being an adult, if you’re not working in the arts, then beyond being a ‘consumer’ of the arts, opportunities to dive into one’s own creative potential are ever fewer.

And what if you have been told or think that you are not an artist? You may identify as a scientist / a logical thinker / a practical-minded person  – all of which require creativity and imagination but can often be separated off – in the same way, that the science, logical and practical aspects of the arts can go unrecognised. 

If we think about Jung’s concept of the shadow and understand that what is not acknowledged is still part of us, then where is the creative practitioner in you? And if you are working with organisational change, in what ways are you working with and nurturing the artist in you that may be hidden, shut down, left dormant but which could benefit and possibly transform your practice? When was the last time you truly played, for your own benefit? And how might engaging with this part of yourself release new perspectives, ideas and courage to engage those parts of the client system you work with?

We invite you to start the 2020’s with our new, of the time and leaping out of the box programme, Deepening Creative Practice. It will support you to bring all of the different parts of yourself to the work of exploring change – individual, organisational and societal – through co-creating and co-curating a learning experience that includes visiting artists as faculty.  If we share the desire to improve the world and the lives of its inhabitants, then our challenge is how to move beyond our silos and comfort zones – to cross boundaries, engage with our discomfort and embrace new ways of translating what we think we know and what we have learnt into what is needed for the future. As with Gareth and the young people at Aylesbury Young Offender’s Institute, we look forward to creating this change with you as artists and scientists.

Heather Stradling, Senior Researcher and Consultant at the Tavistock Institute is Co-Director of Deepening Creative Practice

We welcome conversations, your ideas, thoughts and questions about the Deepening Creative Practice. For more information please contact Lucy Walker l.walker@tavinstitute.org

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