“Stretching your imagination” – Harnessing inspiration, generating ideas and sparking creativity with Artsadmin Youth
In this blog, artist Anna-Maria Nabirye reflects on the workshop she delivered with Artsadmin Youth.
Hi my name is Anna-Maria Nabirye and I am a multi-disciplinary artist. I have a diverse practice working across performance, theatre, visual arts, social practice, fashion, documentary, filmmaking and community arts.
I was asked to create a workshop based on any part of my practice for Artsadmin Youth. It was hard for me to choose one medium to work from for this workshop, so I thought I would find something that fundamentally ties it all together, and for me that was inspiration – ideas – creativity, whichever word or phrase you like to call it, but without it, it can be hard or impossible to make work.
I have have felt sometimes that ideas and inspiration can be spoken about as this mystical super power or an assumed quality of an artist or creative. I wanted to challenge that and offer ways to spark the imagination, inspiration and ideas. To see generating these things as practice that we can learn, a muscle we can exercise, grow and nurture.
In prepping for the workshop, I set myself a brief to “share tips, create and explore free and cheap ways to keep our imaginations full and flexed anywhere and everywhere!”
There are so many ways to create a workshop and I decided to explore this in the same way that I start a piece of work. For me it often starts from an autobiographical moment or impulse, then expands beyond my experiences. So, for this workshop I started by exploring things that both my 17-year-old self and present-day self would like to experience.
[Side note on workshops creation: I remember as a young actor going to many masterclasses with established and successful actors, directors and writers and hearing the story of their lives, how they got into their profession and the choices they made. Even though it was always fascinating, I could never translate it to the problems and feelings I was experiencing. Everything is so subjective and there are so many elements that make up each persons journey so I would often leave on a high and then sink down to a slump in the following days comparing the start of my journey to the hindsight of a successful artist. So I wanted to focus on not centring my choices and ending the session with actual things people could do and try. With everyone feeling that they could also build/adapt exercises themselves.]
During the workshop, we worked through exercises in creating text, sound and moving images from what was around us. I wanted every exercise we did to feel accessible, that there wasn’t a complicated formula, that you didn’t need specialist equipment.
We used objects that we found around us as starting points, combined with provocations to write, record, listen and see. We used short time limits to remind us that we weren’t seeking perfection or fully formed pieces or ideas but exercising and practicing ‘doing’ and ‘trying’. Finding inspiration or generating ideas or stretching your imagination can be the project or task in itself.
These exercises were to help give us permission to do, to try, with no fixed outcome attached. The exercises created such varying texts, sounds and images; it was exciting to see how each person brought their own self to the work. This is the most exciting thing about artwork. [Side note: Only you can do you! Which is why we need you to do whatever it is you do.]
The exercises also triggered emotional responses in some of the participants. Which was hard to witness. We are in the industry of emotions, both in exploring humanity and the world we live in. Finding things that make us feel a certain way is powerful – we can then choose to dig into that subject or to park it. Whatever is useful and safe for us at that time. Always refer to your gut.
We mashed some of the content from our exploration together in an iMovie timeline and projected our exploration.
This is not a piece of work. Though it could be the start of one. Or it might spark an idea for something else. Or establish a relationship that becomes a collaboration. Of course, we hope that some of our ideas will be exciting or good but what is a good idea? Sometimes we don’t have the time, energy or resources, other times we might,
– but it still might not feel right. The act of trying to explore something, can lead to something, which can lead to someone, who can open a space or a thought to something else, which might be a project you work on but never complete, but then gives you the skills to work on an idea you have in 5 years time. Who knows? No-one, not really and that’s okay cause we’re just practising and stretching…
Artsadmin Youth is our free creative arts programme for 16-21 year olds who live/study in East London. Join us on 16 February for our next workshop: Doing things with (a body) of stories with artist Barbara Lehtna.
Produced by Artsadmin, with support from BE PART through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust and the Allen & Overy Ben Ogden Memorial Fund.