This year’s BMC Women in Adventure theme is to do with finding inspiration and forging paths that are undefined. For me the past year or so has been all about this, technically the past 6 years have too, but more so recently having stepped into full time self employment as an artist. Reflecting on the idea of forging I thought I would share some thoughts on this. I’m constantly drawing parallels between art and climbing so I might swap and change between the two but I think it all merges anyway.
Inspiration. First and foremost, its where ideas are hatched and plans are formed. Being aware of what moves you and what gets you excited. It’s within this space that we have the opportunity to expand. If you want to grow and push your own boundaries then look for what gets you excited and go with it. It could be big blue paintings, making pots, it could be slab climbing, it could be running, whatever.
Persistence. Initially inspiration will get you there, forging the path, but I have found that it’s never a constant. Inevitably there will be times of creative block, there will be times of overcoming barriers that aren’t particularly comfortable, so when psyche is low you have to be able to call on a certain amount of determination to get you through.
Faith. This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently. What do you place your faith in? In order to persist with something in a committed way, you have to have faith in that it’s a good thing to be doing. If you commit to something that you don’t have a good feeling about to start with then it’s likely that your reasons behind forging that path are not true to yourself.
Failure. Persistence is basically a constant process of continually failing interspersed with bursts of successes and satisfaction. Failing a lot also teaches you when to change tactics, whether that’s finding a different sequence to a climb or approaching the canvas in a different way, it forces you to be innovative.
Committing. Putting as much as you can into it. In terms of forging a self employed creative career that means giving it the time and space where you can and making a commitment to that. It could mean working part-time or it might mean making stuff in your bedroom in the evenings after work, if you feel like you're moving forward with it then commit a bit more.
The idea of forging into the unknown is not gender specific, but I think we’re at an interesting time when exceptional feats carried out by women are no longer an anomaly. It’s become almost normal to hear that a 14 year old girl has climbed 9a. I think in the past perhaps girls in general weren’t expected and therefore not encouraged in a way to push themselves. Obviously this differs from person to person depending on upbringing, however society as a whole has developed certain expectations to do with gender that have been shaped by what has came before. It’s constantly evolving though and this is not to say that there haven’t been women who have turned this completely on its head. Clearly there have been women with vision and talent who have excelled themselves and, perhaps inadvertently, have served as role models inspiring the next generation. But where we are at now is a time where you expect to see women pushing themselves in all fields, this is how it should be.
I personally don’t think it’s about getting women motivated to climb the hardest, fastest, tallest, in order to prove something. But more about asking the question what inspires individuals on a personal level and encouraging people to pursue that regardless of gender.
I'll also be exhibiting some prints in the Workstation, Sheffield as part of ShAFF. 8th - 17th March