Belinda's Bash

by Belinda Naylor-Stables MA Design

Creative Planning

You go on a course and a quote sticks with you. One such quote is Faith Popcorn's 'Assumption is the mother of all f**kups'. I know not everyone will appreciate the language but it's a useful reminder most of the time. And talking of time, it seems to me that Time itself is one of those areas where we all make sweeping assumptions - for ourselves and other people. In this article I show that if we just let go of standard time assumptions we can tweak time to our benefit...

When does the day start?

Exhibitions and museums are great places for time travel. Whenever I visit Sutton Hoo I always learn something new about the Anglo Saxons - and whatever it is feels as though I should have known it all along. On my visit last Summer I learnt something new about the their day: it started at sunset. Now that makes comfortable sense to me – and I don't know why I haven't applied it yet. Seeing the end of my usual working day as a new start should re-energise my attitude to the evening that lies ahead. Instead of flopping into recovery mode I'll be rejuvinated enough to prepare properly for the coming daylight hours. In turn that will help me squeeze more from the day than I originally thought possible. In fact starting the day at sunset is my New Year's resolution.

How long is a week?

Maybe we should drop our assumptions about the working week too. One of my favourite books is Barbara Kingslover's 'The Poisonwood Bible' (1999) . It's a chunky piece of fiction about an American missionary and his family living in the Congo jungle. What fascinates me most are the cultural issues Kingslover raises which are well researched and real. As the story unfolds the missionary minister acquires a congregation. However he gets very angry with them because they continually fail to get to church on Sunday. The fact is that this community have a ten day week – so for them Sunday keeps cropping up on a different day. Not surprisingly they can't make sense of the 'Church on Sunday' concept. The minister's big mistake was to make an assumption about  time – that everyone shares the same sense of it. And the question that comes to my mind  is whether we're all guilty of similar assumptions – and how to avoid them.

Create your own week...

For all creative people time is key. Our produce has to be ripe and ready for our personal calendar of events. In the quest to make more time for production I think it's important not to be straightjacketed by what we think of as the working week. So for 2011 I'm going to create a week that suits my own workaholic tendencies. I quite fancy a thirteen day week in which I work like mad for ten days and follow that with three full days of playtime. That gives me 21 more working days – amazingly  a whole extra month of workdays in the year - plus generous chunks of leisure. No more wishing for 3 day weekends – I can have them without feeling guilty! So, short of time? Tweak your week.

Create your own year...

One of the things I like to do in December and January is try to get a feel for the way my year as an artist, writer and consultant might pan out. I work up some personal and commercial objectives to help me move forward and align these to opportunities I know about. I'm happy to share my approaches to these things in future Belinda's Bash articles. I can't lay any great claim to being commercially or artistically successful - yet. But I can tell you that I want the journey to be inspirational this year so I'll be pulling out all the stops... starting with  champagne and good-luck wishes for a Creative and Productive New Year!

If anyone would like to add helpful comments on managing creative time and planning for productivity then I'm sure everyone would like to hear from you! Do add your comments here... 


Getting a theme for next year...

Inspiration comes from unexpected places. For some reason this weekend Chinoiserie came up in the conversation in Brighton as a possible theme for me next year. So next day Robert and I cold-footed it (on the icy pavements) to see what I think must be the most awe-inspiring and brilliant example of Chinoiserie – the Royal Pavilion.What I didn’t know about was the installation currently ‘infesting’ the Royal Pavilion called ‘Dark Day in Paradise’ by Clare Twomey. It consists of 3,000 black ceramic butterflies clustered prettily amongst the vases and tracery in the entrance hall and then massing aggressively on the table and on the windows of the banqueting hall, clearly trying to escape en masse like black bats from a cave. Her theme is apparently ‘a reflection on the excesses and frivolity of the past life of the Royal Pavilion.’So what set out to be a positive affirmation of my theme suddenly turned into a thought-provoking reflection on using art to comment on art. There are probably lots of different ways of viewing this juxtaposition, but to me it appeared as two brands fighting for recognition – that of a modern ceramicist confronting and criticising the outlandish flare of a dead Prince Regent who became King at the age of 61 and his architect. It was like sticking Marmite labels all over a Rembrandt.Thinking about it artists have been using their own brand to either support or criticse other brands for centuries. Hogarth famous for his royal portraits used his art to criticise the ‘mad’ Spanish Royal family. More recently Warhol used his art to comment on the media packaging of all sorts of famous people of his time through Pop Art.However, the Pavilion was a branding exercise that was far more useful than 3000 ceramic butterflies, I’m sure. And it’s a combination of art forms that continues to draw in, fascinate, delight and entertain people from all over the world of all ages and interests.So my simple quest for a theme ended in the realisation that a theme can arise from a negative reaction to something as well as a positive one. Also, perhaps the biggest philosophical question of all here is 'Aren’t we allowed to have fun?'

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