a spiritual necessity

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday by these words from this article on the Canadian artist Francoise Sullivan:

"Animals don't do art like we do. They do something else. A spider web or a nest is not a work of art in the human sense. It is a physical necessity. This is more of a spiritual necessity."

I have been thinking about this a lot... it seemed to speak directly to my questions about the different kinds of art that I make, and perhaps the differences between art and craft...

Making life beautiful seems to me to be a physical necessity, a bit like the nest of a bird: creating a garden... making our home attractive... choosing colours... piecing things together... decorations... domestic textiles... the weaving of a life which is visually rich, calm and stimulating... the common grace of creativity being lived and breathed.

I think a lot of the things I make are also borne of this physical need, and this is good, it will always be, and I am happy with that...

But what I long for deep down, what makes me thirsty inside, is the expression of spiritual necessity... art which isn't for anything but just needs to come out. It's about working on a different plane, maybe a different dimension. I'm beginning to recognise that just like any spirituality it will require a careful discipline, diligent practice and an open dialogue with its source.

It's an exciting thought.


suz said...

Very interesting thoughts. I totally agree that making beautiful things is a necessity, but taking that next step and making art simply because you need to express yourself ... that's tough. For myself, I'm so concerned about getting things done as close to perfect that just making art and seeing where it will take me is a scary thought. However, I do think it's a really important step to try to take.

Diva Kreszl said...

interesting to ponder such thoughts...I believe for me it is a physical as well as a spiritual need!

rossichka said...

Oh, this is quite a deep theme! Making Art for yourself, for the others or for itself(as some people say)... I think in all these cases the Artist reveals himself, his inner world, his most intimate thoughts and feelings. Maybe the perfect case is when you create just following your necessities to say something important for you, to express yourself, to share your ideas and discoveries - philosophical, aesthetical, emotional.
I like very much tne thought you quoted... and your comment! I can say for myself that in my work as a puppet theatre director I have to have in mind the young spectators and their necessities, not just mine. But I always try to tell them something valuable in the appropriate way.

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Happy New Year!

Frances said...

Hello Sue.

Well, I can see that in this still new year, you once again are posing interesting questions, reflecting on much that we might have taken for granted, urging us to have a closer look at those easy notions.

Thank you. Where does the creative urge come from. When is it art? Does it make any difference if someone (even we, ourselves) call it art.

Just starting down the lane of thought on this one, Sue.

Something in your words really struck a note that is close to some of my own long pursued notions.

Happy New Year!

sweetwilliam said...

Very eloquent. Worth pondering on.

janet clare said...

oh, I totally agree with you!

Creativity is a physical and spiritual necessity with me. I am miserable without it.

Whilst the day to day creativity (baking, garden etc) is satisfying what I really thrive on and need is that magical feeling you get when you are inspired and completely immersed, lost even, in creating. And like you I need more of it.

PG said...

Hmm. A bit arty farty for me, if you don't mind me being blunt. I earn a modest living doing what I do because it is the only thing I'm good at. I have to make and paint things sometimes I don't want to, simply because my skills are required - that is a necessity, because I have no other job. Most of the time I don't get to *express myself* fully, as I am too busy working on doing (albeit creative) jobs which fill my food cupboard. (Working with designers & publishers is as much a nuts and bolts job as any other, even though it may appear romantic from the outside).
I'm afraid I don't get the spiritual thing - it's just something I do, mostly I enjoy it sometimes I hate it and usually I'm too busy doing it to worry about anything metaphysical. And I don't mind that at all! Its just - what is. Spider builds a web, catches flies; I create things, sell my small talent, pay the bills.

Sue said...

Interesting thoughts, thank you all for sharing them. I find it fascinating to hear how we all perceive these subjects.

Heloise said...

Really interesting post, lots to think about for you and others who have read this or will.

Hens Teeth said...

Saw this and thought of you....

elizabethm said...

I think I am with PG on this one. I take tremendous pleasure and satisfaction in those things you have described as physical necessity. The most "creative" thing I do, other than some writing, is gardening and growing things. This obsesses me and I believe uses the same sort of thought and vision that others use for art or music. There must be a spiritual element to it because it forces you to engage with the passage of time but I don't do it with any sense of a spiritual endeavour - it is just what I do.

Gilly said...

I can't create anything, but I need to look at beautiful things. So thank you, all you, and especially Sue, who make things I enjoy, and more than enjoy, somehow take into myself.

Maybe I "create" in other way,s Idon't know.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

I had to write to you today. I received one of your ornaments for Christmas this year from my very dear friend, Julie Whitmore. It went right to the top of my tree...and will go there every year from now on....and when it came time to say good-bye to the tree..I could not say good-bye to the ornament. So it is in my kitchen window and there it will stay all year because it makes me so HAPPY...

and one more thing..my kitty I call my MOUSE...Maine Mouse...even thoughI live in California, I am pretending I live in Maine....

I'll will be checking out your ETSY shop today and also will be following you...

I just LOVE your blog, inspiration and the things you make.



Hollace said...

I think that creativity is a spiritual gifting whether it applies to nest building, nest-feathering, or painted canvasses. It's all an expression of that inner impulse to reflect and beautify life.

There is so much confusion about the line between "Crafts" and "Fine Art". Even the museum curators are confused, I think. When we were in Paris we went to the Louvre, the Orsay, and the Pompidou. After seeing the (disciplined) work of many of the "Old Masters", I was pretty shocked to see at the Pompidou a blanket of bottle caps strung together with wire hanging as a tapestry on a wall. Another modern art offering was beer bottles stacked in columns like you might see in a college dorm. Why are these "art" worthy of a museum, I wondered. Did it take the same kind of "vision" or "creativity"--certainly not the same "skill" or "discipline"--to make these? And which of these terms and concepts are determinative in what is art?

I have a hang-up with your last full paragraph, that if it is spiritual it can be brought about by disciplined pursuit. Where is the quixotic Muse in this? (I admit to being an undisciplined person, sadly). But I think the very nature of the word spiritual implies that this is not of our own efforts, not a creativity we can drum up by practice. Skill, yes. Inspiration, no. In a productive moment they marry into something beautiful or important or reflective of our spirit. But, we can't take full credit for it because although we brought our skill/practice/discipline/time to it, the idea/inspiration was spiritually given.

I'll think about this some more. I really found PG's remarks provocative and refreshing.

kate fern said...

Usually I'd say that I make art because I enjoy it. But if for some reason I can't do anything for a few weeks it becomes a need - a pent up feeling like I'm going to explode if I don't get something down on paper or canvas. necessary for my sanity! If I'm lucky everything drops away for moments of real absorbtion and peace, but whether that spirituality shows up in my work I don't know.

Gillian L. said...

I think for creative people it's a necessity to express what is inside them...we need those people to remind us of the beauty in the world...it's a spiritual necessity for them and for everyone else to share in their work. In childhood we start stifling creativity which is unfortunate...we need creative thinkers, artists etc. Beauty, solutions to problems...so many important things stem from the mind of a creative person!


Pomona said...

I am not an artist at all, but I love making things. I think there is a deep human need to create which we ignore at our peril - in the past most people had the opportunity to create, because so much that was functional and necessary was handmade. Now we can sidestep the act of creation entirely. I love to make things that are useful, that can be used, but also to make them perhaps not beautiful, but pleasing to look at and aesthetically satisfying.

In terms of inspiration, I agree with you - I don't think you just sit and wait. The greatest artists (including writers) and craftsmen were very hardworking - great work arises out of dedication and self-discipline, hours of work and practice to develop skill. As a writer, I don't think inspiration comes out of just waiting around - it develops out of sitting down and making yourself work, however uninspired you feel. Then in the process of that work enlightenment comes.

A very thought-provoking post!

Pomona x

greenolive said...

Your post speaks to me – you have articulated some of the things I have been grappling with.
I have another book for you: Something More - by the same author, and its about excavating your authentic self. I'm slowing working through it, cause at the moment I wouldn't recognise my authentic self if I fell over her!!

theMuddledMarketPlace said...

"The Clear Dark" by Robert Adamson contains these words

"...Do we see the world we cannot see through art,
use vision’s virtue, particular
emotions creating sight

Drawn with light
so that the image perfects itself
in our seeing it

Drawn out from dark
to make bright images of life
in our livings
lucidity, clear fire...."

It may be arty farty
then again
it may not be!

Guess we're all very different people....who go together/work in different ways.....?

Thought provoking post anyway
and thought provoking comments as well