Recently I have become less and less satisfied with my outcomes, struggling to develop my current body of work. How do you create good work, which is original and from the heart? I had heard rumours about Ruudt’s course. That it was tough, an intensive experience. I decided to throw myself in and see where I would land.
Arriving at Ravenstein on an uncharactististically hot April morning, butterflies dance in my stomach but these soon subside as I am greeted first by a beautiful bounding dog named Luna and then Ruudt Peters himself all tall, stripy jumpered and grinning. So why I am here deep in the Dutch countryside?
For me, art is about a shared experience: between artist, viewer, participant. Within my practice I aim to seek a balance between practical making, writing and curating. This balance between critical thinking and practical development is an essential part of growing my practice, ideas and rationale. But recently I have become less and less satisfied with my outcomes, struggling to develop my current body of work. How do you create good work, which is original and from the heart?
I had heard rumours about Ruudt’s course. That it was tough, an intensive experience. I decided to throw myself in and see where I would land.
There were moments during the week when I was sceptical. How can blind drawing or creating a short film help my designs? What difference to my work does it make if I talk or stay silent?
Take a step back.
There is a messege in all of these tasks.
And slowly, what Ruudt was saying sunk in.
“Once you have consumed all the knowledge from the books, then burn the books...” He repeated. “ Dont keep what you know at the front of your head- push to the back”
And it turns out, this is sound advice. A recent study at University College London has shown that you are more likely to perform well when you do not think too hard. In other words, by using the subconscious to design, rather then the rational mind, we are more likely to come up with a successful outcome. This listening to the subconscious is usualy referred to as listening to our gut, or to our heart.
Another study confirms that those who are good at following their instincts were actually more able to literally ‘listen to their heart’. By being more aware of your heartbeat and body reactions, you are able to make better choices. But this, like any skill, needs to be practiced to be developed. (1)
And this is what Ruudt wished us to develop. The skill of hearing, understanding and following our instincts, allowing us to make better choices.
We continued to draw, to make, to investigate. We developed our final project. Then we step back and take a look.
And I am surprised.
Although I had purposefully avoided thinking about what I was doing, my piece seems to say everything ... and more than I had intended. To wear it scared me, because I realised I had put so much of myself into the piece. And although it was nowhere near a finalised piece, it was a developed idea, a project ready to expand.
So what did I learn?
Not to be afraid of doing something your way, regardless of what others might think.
Trust your gut when you are making, but also give yourself the time to step back to analyse your results.
To be scared is okay, good even, it can mean you are on track,
Do not lose control, give it up.
About the authorLaura Bradshaw-Heap is an Irish jeweller and artist, who trained in England. She writes, curates, creates and muses theories related to social engagement within contemporary art jewellery.
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