I arrived in Paris, not sure what to expect...I had been there too many years ago to remember it, and I wasn’t too enamoured of it at the time...
But, I went with an open mind and fell in love on the first day, savouring pastries and strolling along the old streets, marvelling at old doors and basking in the summer sun in a nearby park.
I had a truly amazing time, took in galleries, music events and generally strolled the streets of Paris feeling incredibly fortunate. My trip brought a change of scenery and a change of habits (both in my head and in my actions.)
I admit that for most of my life I've been one to hang on to things…I can always find a use for even the most unusual objects: "Hey big sis, I'll hang on to your wisdom tooth cos I might pop that in an artwork one day" (which I did by the way, and it was selected for the 2010 Warringah Art Show)
But, while overseas I was happily living out of a suitcase for 5 weeks, wondering why on earth I brought along so many sox! Along my travels I made amazing connections with relatives (many of whom are creative themselves) and I realised how nurturing it is to spend time with people who understand you and allow your spirit to shine.
I came home feeling things had shifted. It's a cliche but the trip caused me to re-evaluate the "usual" way of doing things, and helped me realise I had made my world smaller than it needed to be.
Then I found out about Malaysian Airline Flight 17. I had travelled that same flight path a week earlier, when I had looked at the on screen map and thought “Oh, so that's where the Ukraine is.”
This horrible news, along with my already shifting thought patterns made me question things even more. If life can be taken away so quickly, then what is it I want my life to be about? Where is the place of art in all of this? Does making art, or teaching people art really matter when so much is going on in the world? After some time of letting all this marinade in my mind, I realised that, for me, it certainly does matter…now more than ever...
One thing I learnt most from my trip was to really revel in the moment…savouring every morsel of a warm baguette, getting up close and studying the brushstrokes on a Modigliani or carefully taking in the scene around me in the metro (with plenty of reasons to chuckle.) This, to me is one very important aspect of art making: the idea of “being in the moment.”
Many of my students exclaim: “wow, the time went so fast!” a testament to that blissful state of flow where our sense of time gets disrupted.
In our busy world, with so many things vying for attention, I believe this time away from work, bills, and the constant stream of news and advertising is more important than ever.
A time to just BE…and enjoy
Art is not about neglecting all of the other stuff, but about taking a breather…getting in touch with not just art, but with oneself…allowing your own voice to come out instead of feeling you're drowning in all the other “stuff.”
We are not doing anyone any favours being unhappy, worrying about things we cannot change…but we are doing ourselves a favour by doing the things we love…for me its connecting with people, teaching, creating….
Why not revel in doing something you love, whether it is going for a quick walk to the beach, savouring a warm cup of tea, spending some time with the people who matter (without distractions!) or take some time out to unleash your inner artist and create something. Do it for you, and others will benefit too...