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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Artist Fuschia Ayling talks Sexuality and Creativity

Fuschia and me at the BTR launch

I’m sure you’ve already seen the pictures of the paintings and heard me rave about the fabulous artists who each volunteered to illustrate a different excerpt of my novel, Body Temperature and Rising, for my launch party a couple of weeks ago. As I’ve gotten to know these very talented young artists and seen a bit more of their work, I knew I had to have them on my site and give my readers the chance to get to know them a little better and have a look at a few images of their wonderful work.

Fuschia’s stunning scene depicting voyeuristic bliss on the fells from BTR

The very talented Fuschia Ayling is my guest today. Fuscia chose the opening scene of Body Temperature and Rising to paint, and on her blog, teased us all with sneak peeks of the work in progress. I’ve been following her blog ever since just to see what she gets up to. Welcome Fuschia! It’s a pleasure to have you on A Hopeful Romantic.

KD: Fuschia, have you always known you’ve wanted to be artists? What inspired the choice?

Fuschia:I have always been driven creatively, ever since I was a very small child – I suppose I was always happiest when I was up to my elbows in paint, mud or playdough. When I was small my father owned a gallery and studio in St. Ives, and his success and talent as an artist – along with my immersion in the Cornish art scene – meant that I was given all the encouragement I needed to continue exploring my interest. As I grew up I continued to enjoy expressing myself visually, but I

‘My Not So Secret Garden’

viewed it more as therapy – there were always things which I couldn’t explain to others, things that I could only really exorcise in my journals. I studied Art and Design at college and then took an extra couple of years to really develop my work and distance myself still further from what seems to be a very Cornish expectation – that as an artist one should paint landscapes and seascapes to order. I am thankful that being an artist is a viable career option – I can basically devote my life to healing what is, unfortunately, a slightly damaged brain.

KD: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

“Bang Bang” is to do with sexual experience and confusion, the way all the things that we experience leave traces, tangled and in some ways unable to be separated. It is also to do with my feelings for my own body, my femininity, my role as a woman – as explored through the use of embroidery.

Fuschia: I am 20 years old, currently studying at Kingston University for a BA in Fine Art. My work is always confessional, often sexual and sometimes a little shocking. My work deals with my own personal experiences and opinions, and in that way it is like an ever growing and expanding diary of my life. I often deal with issues that, although still current, are perhaps best described as scars from childhood. I have been called a feminist artist, although this isn’t a label I particularly identify with, I think my work deals with what could be deemed “Feminine Issues” merely because I am by gender a woman. I enjoy writing, drawing, sewing and painting – I like to mix and match materials and processes.

KD: Why did you choose to make sexuality the central theme in your artwork?

Fuschia:I suppose sexuality is a central theme in my work because it is a central theme in life – sex

‘Open Wide’

is, after all, the reason why we are all here. I am very interested by human nature, especially when it comes to sex, and I think that this interest fuels part of my obsession. Like many people I have issues with my own sexuality, I find that exploring these unspoken things in my work comes naturally to me. I have produced a lot of work in the past about being a rape victim, and I probably will continue to do so in the future, it is something which I kept secret and shamefully hidden for so long that having the freedom to express it, to work through it and to, hopefully, help other people in similar positions to myself is hugely healing to me. I think also that in my work I wanted to make a distinction between sex and rape, because rape is not sex but it is violence and sex is something beautiful – no matter how hard you’re fucking it is always consensual. Sex is wonderful – I want to celebrate that.

KD: Where to you get your inspiration?

Fuschia:I am inspired predominantly by my own history, but also materially – by patterns, colours, chance events. I am really interested in

surface decoration, the little details which make up the skin of an object. I also have a fascination with craft – embroidery, needlework, knitting, upholstery, beading – things which were traditionally a woman’s work, I enjoy bringing a new vitality to them when they are placed in an altogether different context – For me, a cross stitch of a pretty house is impressive, but a cross stitch of a vagina is sheer brilliance.

‘My Cunt is a Crime Scene’

KD: What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?

Fuschia: I think that, for me, the hardest thing about being an artist is also one of the best things – Being self led. On the one hand the freedom is wonderful, the ability to just get up one day and say “Today I shall make a wall-hanging entirely out of cotton wool…” – that is a fabulous feeling when you have total monopoly over your practice. On the other hand, however, is awful days of total creative block, despondency, failure… It is about having the ability to be your own critic, but also to know when to stop beating yourself up over your short-comings.

KD: Who inspires you, as an artist?

Fuschia: In the art world my greatest influence has to be Tracey Emin, I discovered her work aged 14 and have been in love ever since. I admire her ability to let the viewer in but still keep hold of the reigns. For me she is somebody who is very real, very human and also very good at what she does. I also admire Sarah Lucas, Elke Krystufek, Nan Goldin, Annette Messager, Ana Mendieta and Francesco Clemente among others. I have also been inspired greatly by the work of author Mervyn Peake. I would also like to take this oportunity to say a big thank you to Sarah Berry for her ongoing support!

KD: What are you working on now?

Fuschia: I am currently working on a project which is far more feminine in appearance, I have become really interested in floral prints and patterns. I have just completed part of this – a large square painting titled “My Not So Secret Garden”, which was inspired by my unease with the common pornographic pose which involves spreading ones pussy lips with ones fingers, I was interested in the dual meaning of the gesture – whether it was an invitation, a sign of vulnerability in exposing our softness – or whether it could be an aggressive gesture, a blatant display of sexuality as something threatening. By combining the image with soft floral shapes and pastel colours I am trying to play with the connotations the familiar pose has…It is work in progress!

KD: What are you working on now?

Fuschia: I am very excited at the moment about our (The Vagina Atelier) nomination for the Erotic Award’s Erotic Artist of the Year, and the possibilities for making new contacts. I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings…

Fuschia’s blog: http:/www.fuschiaayling.blogspot.com

Thank you, Fuschia for giving us a chance to get to know you a little better and to sample a little bit of you stunning art. It’s been a real pleasure you to have you! I wish you all the best in your creative pursuits.

 

Occupy Mind Street

The other day, I overheard someone say, ‘my mind is occupied.’ And I had one of those ‘Aha’ moments that happen when I suddenly see meaning in a word, meaning that’s always been there, but somehow I missed. Then Friday night, while channel surfing over a bottle of wine and some chocolate, Raymond and I happened upon the 1998 film, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington. Fallen is a film about a demon who occupies people for his malevolent agenda and passes himself on from person to person by touch. And there it was again, that amazing concept of occupation.  Okay, in the case of a nasty demon, the word used is usually possession, but the two words are synonymous in many ways.

I suppose with the occupation of Wall Street and all of the other occupations going on, and with high unemployment causing the loss of occupation, the word was already in my mind in an unconscious sort of way. But I’ve never really thought about what it means to have my mind occupied. What happens when my mind is occupied, and who’s doing the occupying? Surely the occupied mind implies that someone is there other than me, someone who has taken up residence and is now in the driver’s seat, focusing me, perhaps in a way that my unoccupied mind would not be able to focus.

Socrates spoke of the inner voice, what he called the daemon, the ‘inner oracle’ that guided him. For the Greeks, the daemon was an entity somewhere between mortal and god. In his Dark Materials Trilogy, Phillip Pullman manifests those inner oracles in the outer world and embodies his daemons in animal form.

Carl Jung believed each of us is two different entities, two different selves. He believed there was our public persona, the part of us we show to the world, and there was the mysterious, hidden realm of the second self, the self that was more at home with the mystical, more connected with the divine. For Jung, the life journey was one of integrating those two selves.

I can’t help thinking that Socrates’s daemon, Jung’s second self could be just other names for the writer’s muse.

That brings me back to ‘occupy.’ Even in the free online dictionary, all the definitions for ‘occupy’ gave me more food for thought about the occupied mind.

As I think about the unoccupied mind – if there even is such a thing, I think about the blank piece of paper or the blank monitor we writers face each time we settle in to write a story. There’s a passivity implied before occupation can happen, an emptiness. The dictionary defines ‘occupy’ as seizing possession of and maintaining control over. Our word ‘occupy’ comes from the Latin, occupare, to seize. There’s no denying that conquest is implied. A country must be ripe for the takeover, weak, unable to defend itself. There has to be a void to fill. To me, it make sense that a mind must also reach some point of passivity to be ripe for the takeover.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the mind is blank before it’s occupied. More than likely the mind was already occupied, or preoccupied.  When we’re ripe for the takeover, does the occupier come in and sweep out the detritus, the tyrants of busy-ness and lethargy, the sludge of self-doubt and procrastination? Is it a peaceful coup or a violent uprising? And how does the way the occupation of the mind come about effect what we, as writers, create when the occupier comes in, does a proper housecleaning, and takes over the controls?

An occupied mind is a beautiful thing to behold, even more beautiful to experience. And at those times when I’m fully taken over, I’m truly beside myself, watching with amazement while the occupier guides me.

When that happens then word, ‘occupy,’ takes on a new, active meaning. I become engaged, employed, with my full concentration on a task, and that task involves the writing of a story. Since I can’t really skirt the spiritual implications while talking about daemons and muses and the Self with a capital ‘S’, it seems appropriate to bring in that lovely word, ‘vocation,’ because vocation and occupation are so beautifully linked. Vocation, according to the dictionary, is a regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified. It is an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, a calling.

An inclination, as if in response to a summons definitely sounds like a close encounter with the Muse to me. And it’s that close encounter that brings me to the final definition of occupy; to dwell or reside in, to hold or fill. The world I create, the characters I populate it with and the conflict I thrust upon those characters now all come rushing in en mass to fill up, to dwell in, to reside in my occupied mind, along with the Muse/Daemon/Self, who is at the controls. That, I would say, is a fully occupied mind, and every writer’s wet dream.

I could go on and on about the implications of occupation and vocation and daemons and the Self and Muses in the driver’s seat, but my mind is really occupied with a novella at the moment. So if you’ll excuse me, I really need to get back there so I won’t miss anything because the occupation is just now getting really good and really messy.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All About Sex … and Creativity

Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities.  —Erica Jong

My husband knows I’m always looking for interesting articles about sex. He sent me one the other day about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) This led us to an impromptu  discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. There was even a recent article in Psychology Today about semen as an anti-depressant. The jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.

 For the naysayers, abstinence has long been touted as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showed that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.

 I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first: the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But I wonder whether we really understand just what sex is all about.

 Yes, the basic biology is obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand-in- hand with our cultural evolution, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, all things seem to have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, reproduce and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation become art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer necessary, our very homes become an artistic expression of ourselves. In a world where all our basic needs have evolved more than one meaning, the artistic expression becomes as important as the function.

 But all of these necessities are mundane. Sex is not. For our ancestors, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. On one hand procreation has given way to re-creation,  but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?

 How can the process of creating be anything but sexual? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.

 That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex in which time seemed no longer to exist, will recall that what mattered was the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.

 So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I go with it?

 What’s Happening

Speaking of creativity, I spent a lovely day the 2nd of April with the Sweet ‘N Sexy Divas on their great sight talking about writing not being a means to an end. The conversation was great, and the Divas rock. I highly recommend a visit to their site.

Today I’m with the fabulous Tonya Kinzer talking about the writing process and pushing the envelope.  I always have a great time talking with other writers and hearing what works for them. The woman gardens and drinks red wine! I think those fine traits speak for themselves. Stop in and say hi.

Family Friendly Working Ezine had a fabulous interview with Xcite Book’s fearless leader, Hazel Cushion, this week . The woman is amazing on every level and the article is great. Plus it quotes moi. I’m very pleased to be apart of Xcite.

The week has been about clearing the decks, getting blog posts, promo stuff and short stories off the table so I can start in full-tilt on Lakeland Heatwave next week, and I’m more than ready to get down to a little Lakeland fun.

In other news, there have been two very long, very delicious walks on my home turf, both resulting in some serious encounters with the Muse. And the portable greenhouses are bursting at the seam with seedlings waiting to go in the beds. Both beds now have peas and cauliflower planted.  Creative work is dirty work:)

Wishing everyone almost too much of a good thing!

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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