Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Challenge of Music! Blog hop - 29th Feb 2012: ALTER BRIDGE "I KNOW IT HURTS"

I found this challenge on the blog Treasures Found: Inspiration is Everywhere and a huge thank you to Erin for organising it! The task was to select a song which means something to you and explain its importance and use the song to inspire the creation of an accessory of your choice.

I selected 'I Know it Hurts' by Alter Bridge. This song resonates with me for a number of reasons and was the first song that came to mind when I read about the challenge.
I first heard Myles Kennedy sing in Melbourne. He was performing with Slash at the music festival Soundwave. I've always been a sucker for a guy that can sing, and I was mesmerised by Myles' voice. The moment I remember most clear was as he began to sing 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. That song was played at my friend's funeral in 2008 (he apparently had 16 versions of it on his laptop so it seemed appropriate!) and so it holds a special place in my heart. At that moment I was actually walking away from the stage to see another act, but I stopped in my tracks as the intro played. I simply stood still and watched them perform the entire song.
Back in the UK I found out that Myles is the lead singer of Alter Bridge and bought their album ABIII without hesitation. I was even fortunate to see them perform in November 2012 and they are incredible live.
The lyrics to this track state "We all fall sometimes, you're not the first, But I know it hurts, I know it hurts" and whenever I listen to it I find some solace in the idea that despite any knockbacks, no matter how painful, it's important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.
For years I've told people my motto is 'Life goes on' - my best friend even has it tattooed on her wrist as I've said it to her so many times when times got tough. No matter how dark the tunnel, there will be an end to it, "You must carry on...There's still tomorrow, hold on, hold on..."

This track, and even this band are relatively new in my life. But they remind me of several things. Firstly, of how fantastic the festival in Melbourne was - one of my favourite travel memories. Secondly, that life has its ups and downs - and that's ok. 
And finally, how music has the power to take you out of your self, it can transport you to another realm where all that matters is the melody. I'm sure in years to come this track will still remind me of the here and now - and that I can look back fondly on that.

As my arts and craft supplies are minimal at the moment, I decided to keep my accessory simple -based on the form of an embroidery friendship bracelet. I added in mini black beads to symbolise the struggles we encounter and chose the colour black to resemble the darkness we sometimes find ourselves in, red for the struggle and white for the hope of a better future.


In some ways it was quite difficult to select a single song, but I try to go with my gut instincts and this is it. I hope you enjoy it!

The others participating in the blog hop are listed below, so check out the other song choices and maybe find some new tunes to add to your music library!

Erin Prais-Hintz

Monday, 27 February 2012

Once in a lifetime...

The BBC recently broadcast a series detailing the history of musical theatre. Having fallen in love with musical theatre after seeing 'Starlight Express' at the age of 11, I was intrigued to see behind-the-scene snippets of various productions that I have seen on stage.

The first episode looked at British playwrights trying to "make it" on Broadway and the history of theatre in the 1960s/1970s. One milestone in theatre came with the arrival of the "American Tribal Love Rock Musical" - HAIR - a show which pushed the boundaries of censorship in various ways.

In 2004 I participated in a production of HAIR in a cast of only 19 people. All members of the cast were on stage for every song and in on all the "in jokes". It genuinely was like one large family.

Still to this day I get shivers when I hear the music, in particular the part in 'flesh failures' where the company sing under Claude:

 Claude                                                                                Company

Manchester England England
Manchester England England                                         Eyes look your last
Across the Atlantic Sea                                                 
Arms take your last embrace
And I'm a genius genius                                                And lips oh you the doors of breath
I believe in God                                                            Seal with a righteous kiss
And I believe that God believes in Claude                       Seal with a righteous kiss
That's me, that's me, that's me                                      The rest is silence
                                                                                   The rest is silence
                                                                                   The rest is silence

©Jim Rado and Jerry Ragni
Every so often, when the old cast discuss upcoming shows/projects, we reminisce about the unique experience of being involved in HAIR. In such a small cast, we became very close and there had to be respect and trust amongst the cast in order to perform the nude scene with the required dignity, humanity and innocence. There was occasional talk about doing a revival - but on the condition that the same cast was involved. Drunk on nostalgia we talk about how rare the experience was and how we would love to re-live it.
But can such an experience ever truly be recreated?
Sadly, I think not. It was what it was because of who we were as people at the time and inevitably, we all have changed over the years. Therefore, an attempt to recreate that unique rapport between castmembers could be difficult, and should it not fulfil expectation our memories would be tarnished rather than filled with the recollection of the extraordinary bond we shared at the time.
Despite performing in several other productions over the years, HAIR still holds a special place in my heart and memory. In many ways, it's impossible to put into words how it affected me.

It was a 'once in a lifetime' production... And maybe, that's how it should be.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What Disney, Microsoft and Burger King have in common: Making something from not-a-lot

A few days ago I watched the following video: The Daily Politics on BBC iPlayer. Just after 20 minutes into the programme (20m 17s to be exact) the issue of businesses having to be innovative in the current climate is brought up. In a challenging environment businesses often have to rethink their strategies as consumer behaviour is affected by a tightening of the purse-strings.

But rather than merely survive, some companies have grown and thrived by refocussing, being creative and spotting opportunities missed by competitors. The world-famous companies listed below are just a few examples (more details available here):

Walt Disney Productions - reincorporated during the Great Depression (1929)
Burger King - began in a recession (1954)
Microsoft - began in a recession (1975)
MTV - began during an economic downturn (1981)
CNN - began in a recession (1980)
FedEx - began in a recession (1973)
Hewlett-Packard - founded at the end of the Great Depression (1939)
So does this mean that creative people can lead the way?
After all, artists (in the broadest sense of the word) often work with limited materials and finances and yet can produce works of value - J K Rowling and the Harry Potter series springs to mind.
Just a thought...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Solitude vs. Collaboration

Keith Sawyer, a psychology and education professor in the USA, writes an intriguing blog regarding creativity. A recent post critiqued an article in the New York Times, written by Susan Cain, which stated that "people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption". It has caused quite a stir and I've come across more criticisms of her article than support. It is worth noting that both Sawyer and Cain agree that a balance between the two is necessary - but then Cain appears to disregard this completely by writing a one-sided pro-solitude piece which Sawyer then neatly pulls apart.

The online debates surrounding the subject of 'introvert vs. extravert'/ 'solitude vs. collaboration' got me thinking about where I would position myself in the argument.

My instinct would say I prefer solitude. But rather than due to the peace of being alone, it is through fear that my ideas could be taken by someone else before I have had time to fully develop them! (Yes, I need to work on calming my paranoia!)

Then I thought about the things I have done so far this year and considered if they were truly independent paths I had taken or not. The result is a resounding "NO".

Through interaction on blogs/websites, particularly, I have delved more into creative work than I had previously done in years! Although the shading of a drawing was done alone, the stimulus came from ideas presented by others (such as the themes in Challenge 2012) or discussions with friends and colleagues.

Looking back I think my negative view of collaboration stems from doing group projects at varying levels of education and feeling like the driving force a lot of the time. If I believed in an idea I would be behind it 100%, which sometimes lead to, or at least felt like, me doing all the work that others got credit for.

So the trick to it is to strike a balance, and the web can help achieve this. Having an online facade allows people to engage with others, but not necessarily give away all the details about what they are doing. It is a blogger's choice what to upload/ discuss, how much to divulge or keep hidden, and with that - to an extent - collaboration with others is possibly manipulated to suit individual needs. Nonetheless, individual work and teamwork seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to creativity.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Have you ever heard of "T-Shaped People"?
Me neither.

There is a lot of discussion concerning collaboration as a tool to enhance creativity. (I will return to that subject another day). Earlier I stumbled upon this interesting blog. I believe that the idea of "T-Shaped People" is a fantastic way to consider group dynamics - in any teamwork situation. I have copied the final part of the blog below:

  • Specialists are “I-Shaped People” – people who have depth of expertise, without breadth of skills

  • Generalists are “Minus-Shaped People” – people who have a breadth of skills, but no depth of expertise.

  • Specializing Generalists are “T-Shaped People” – people who have depth of expertise in one area, combined with a breadth of skills across many areas.

  • What an interesting way to think about teamwork!

    Sunday, 12 February 2012

    I don't want (your) freedom...

    Firstly, apologies for the reference to the Wham! song to non-Wham! fans - I hear the word 'freedom' and the lyrics instantly come to mind. However, this lyric is somewhat apt for this subject area.

    As a creative I have always strongly believed that freedom is vital. The freedom to explore, to go beyond a design brief, to allow flourishes of creativity to take off as and when they occur. That is, until today.

    There is one magazine I read cover-to-cover - Psychologies - and a competition is currently running, asking readers to submit a 500 word story about a journey. It can be real or imaginary and presented in any format.

    As the closing date is tomorrow I decided to give it a go and recounted my eight-month travels around Australia last year. The initial challenge came in condensing the material - eight months in 500 words at first seemed impossible. However, this constraint in fact focussed my writing. Instead of waffling on for thousands of words (as I am prone to do) I kept everything short. I only selected the humorous anecdotes, which has made me realise just what an adventure the whole experience was. Reflecting back on the trip has made me appreciate just how much I actually achieved in that space of time and how the small dramas (for example, getting stuck in sand in a dodgy side road on the first night of a road trip in a campervan) made the biggest impression on me.

    Of course, I do not suggest that all creativity should be restricted to deadlines and design briefs, but the occasional boundary is not necessarily a negative thing. It can, in fact, aid creativity.

    Chris Bilton claims "Constraints...[are]...the boundaries within which the creative effort can be channelled and against which the edges of possibility can be tested." (Bilton, C., 2007, Management and Creativity, Blackwell, Oxford. Pg.85)

    I'm beginning to agree.

    Wednesday, 1 February 2012

    Night Owl (Challenge: February 2012 - 'Night')

    I am a night owl - no shadow of a doubt!

    Continuing my challenge with  this month the stimulus is 'night' which I find rather exciting as I appear to be mostly nocturnal.

    Rather than allocate time to create, however, I have decided to aim to create a full piece by the end of the month. I want to finish a sketch/painting about the night - and I must admit that I am no painter - (sadly my hands do not appear capable of replicating what I see in my mind). But I shall take on this challenge and see what I come up with...