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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

On not conforming, being creative and needing a platform.

Being creative and needing a platform. And not conforming because I booked this theatre slot before I had written the show.  Doing it all backwards.  

A few years ago I narrowed down my whole personality to three points.  They are

  • I do not conform
  • I am creative
  • I need a platform.
Everything about myself is covered by these three explanations.  I was delighted at the time to have discovered my own formula.  What is more, I liked the formula.  I still do like it, and am going to add another that has come to my attention in the last year or so.  A number four.  Here is it is -
  • I am a teeny bit rebellious.

I do not conform.

From an early age, having been born a fairy, I was at loggerheads with convention.  It was as if I had an inbuilt alternative agenda which made me look at the world with surprise.  There were rules, and there was a right way of doing things but, they were so obviously not applicable to me that I was
Me as a fairy.  
constantly astonished when I was told off.  Growing up, I was attracted only to the wild, naughty children.  I myself wasn't really one of them, I just thought they had a better way of looking at things and so I tagged along.  I liked how they challenged the rules and seemed to do what they wanted.  Many of them had very difficult home lives, and I did not. I had a lovely family in a nice big house where our dad used to read Dickens to us and Mum made lamb stew with pearl barley from scratch, and we had it in special blue plates inherited from lovely Irish aunts.  I knew many of the naughty children were responding to family difficulties, and sometimes I wished I had a nice alcoholic mum, or a dad in prison or something that would give me a reason to be naughty.  As it was, I simply drifted to the bad kids like a puppy, and thought they were all wonderful.  They all thought I was a hippy.

I always knew I was an artist.  In order to live as an artist, I had to stick to my guns and simply ignore the opposition.  There was plenty of opposition.  Getting a proper job and earning a living was the goal and I was encouraged to think of ways my art could be channelled into something practical and conventional.  I had a go at that from time to time, but it took the light out of me and never worked.  I am an artist and I have to follow a different path, one that allows me to step off it and experience life from outside.  Of course this freedom also enabled me to make appalling decisions and make a complete pig's ear of my life but, I survived.  And now, it is all worth while.  I am an artist, I am an artist extraordinaire, and I still have no intention of conforming.  (But I am very nice and well behaved, you don't always know I am not conforming until later when you think about it.)

I am creative

Being creative is not enough.  We need to express it.  People who either say they are not creative or who are ignoring their creativity fear that it is a messy business.  They fear it means getting covered in mess, in paints, in feathers, staying up all night chasing the muse, and dressing badly.  It is a challenge, a problem, and causes upheaval. It is about going outside our comfort zone. Once we understand that creativity is just about expressing ourselves, the pressure is off.  It does not have to be anything we don't want it to be, but it does need us to stop judging it, and just play.  And actually, it is quite safe to play and get a bit messy.

I am creative.  It isn't just about painting, or writing, though those are excellent ways of expressing myself.  It is about enjoying colour, putting lights and little statues in my garden, it is about wearing pink and matching it with pink earrings and lipstick.  It is about sitting and making sure everything in my line of sight is beautiful, it is about cooking all the things left over in the fridge, and tying my recently late father's shoe to his grandfather clock in my house, as a memorial to him.   

My creativity does not always wait for inspiration.  Sometimes, I let ideas work themselves out for a while but as it is me who will use them, I am proactive and at some point start work and enter into the unknown, the creative process, whether ready or not.  My creativity does not sit outside me, and I wait for it to show up so I can try and use it.  It lives inside me, it is me, and so I have access to it day and night.  It does not have to be perfect, it rarely is anything like perfect, but it will do.  I know I can use it and it's very nice to be such friends with it.  I will just add here that it gets better with practice.  I have to work for the finished product, it doesn't just happen as if I have no part in it.  I work very hard for my results, and that is part of the process.  If it goes well, then creativity and I have done well.  If it doesn't go well, it does not matter.  I will try something else, and have a cup of tea.

I need a platform

I do need a platform.  Oh I absolutely do.  What is the point, I say, of me painting and writing and thinking the way I do without you all knowing about it.  I am not a shy and retiring artist, I like to launch my stuff into the world and wait for you all to tell me how wonderful it all is.  Of course, that is not a given, you may hate what I do and wish me to get a proper job and a sense of propriety.  It does not stop me writing, painting and making videos though.  Here I go, lobbing You Tube videos at you, inviting you to exhibitions, writing books and blogs and, of course, creating daily Instagram and Facebook stories of my life.  

Speaking at an end of life conference.
Sounds like none of us left the
building after the conference, doesn't it?  
The platform I seek though is not simply about my work being seen and read.  That would be nice but, I am motivated by a great deal more than that.  How do we look at, articulate and explore difficult things?  There are times when we need to be challenged, inspired, comforted, entertained, reminded, or encouraged. I use my creativity to explore how we deal with death and dying and recently, how we cope with addiction; those are my difficult things.  I explore and share my experiences and I need, use and have platforms to reach as many people as I can.  I am compelled to do this, and to keep the things I talk about and paint authentic and truthful.  Using platforms to put my work out into the world is a good way of keeping myself in check.  There is nothing more sobering than the opinions of all the people out there who have access to what I do.  The platform I seek is a relationship with everyone who comes across my work and who may resonate with the experiences and stories I use.  It is not a "me and you" thing, it is a "we and us" thing.

A teeny bit of rebellion

This has evolved as I get older.  I have noticed other older people simply not doing things they don't believe in.  My Irish grandmother, a small lady, would wear my very tall grandfather's huge overcoat when coming back from a visit from Ireland to the UK.  She would stuff the pockets with ham, whiskey, sausages and beer and clink her way through customs with some of her seven children.  Just before customs she would clip one of the children around the ear and the resulting chaos would mean she would get past customs without being checked.  Another time, when my boys were about six and nine, my mother smuggled them into France on a pilgrimage bus bound for Lourdes.  She hadn't time to get them passports.  Leave it to me, she said.  The arch bishop was on that bus, and mother shoved my boys behind him as he walked past customs, saying that they were with the bishop.  They got in.  The bishop had no idea he led two little boys into France illegally on his way to a holy pilgrimage to Lourdes, where Saint Bernadette saw and spoke to the Virgin Mary.  

And now I am on my way to the same kind of behaviour.  I can't give you examples because I will possibly get into trouble, but in each case I believe common sense and humanity has triumphed over silly rules and face saving protocol.  There.  That's a bit of rebellion for the common good, but I have yet to smuggle legs of lamb and children across borders.  


Not my actual grandmother but same approach to life.


My website is here - www.antoniarolls.co.uk


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1 comment:

  1. If you don’t wTch out you will be famous and infamous­čśé. All very well put as ever. By the way I have always been a crafty rebel like my father, but always very polite about my views, using mainly NVC, Non Violent Communication.

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