As part of the “Creativity Thirst” project currently running in Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, two taster sessions have been delivered in the last couple of weeks.
These sessions were presented by practitioners who work both locally and internationally in the Creative Industries (CI). The role models were asked to tell us about their work, how they have reached their current position and how they used business skills to get to this point. The two main skills represented were Craft and Photography which are the dominant skill areas of the main “Creativity Thirst” programme
The project is running as a partnership between the WEA and Flowerfield Arts Centre and is funded by the Creative Industries Innovation Fund by the Arts Council of NI and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Speaking on behalf of the project, Malcolm Murchison, Director of Flowerfield Arts Centre said:
“For Flowerfield to host “Creativity Thirst” is a continuation of a long standing relationship with the WEA and this Taster was an opportunity for both organisations to jointly express our interest in the Creative Industries and their potential for impact on the local and international economy.”
From the outset it was clear that passion for creativity was the key driving force between each presenters success in developing their art. However this was married with a keen sense of the practical skills needed to turn the passion into a business and participants were expertly guided through areas such as: marketing, networking, budgeting, quality and innovation.
Taster Session No. 1
The first session was delivered by Rachel O’Neill, Designer. Although Rachel has only been working for a few years (graduated in 2005) she has succeeded in setting her products on an international showcase. She explained how her skills have developed since college and how she has successfully taken her product to the market place. She started selling her work in NI but felt that there may well be further opportunities for her elsewhere and so started attending trade fairs in England, Europe and New York. These have proven to be extremely successful as she has sold work, gained commissions, enjoyed major publicity and networked on an international scale. Rachel also got the chance to do some really exciting projects that she wouldn’t have done had she stayed at home. She is still based in Banbridge but acknowledges that her perspective needs to be wide as she works in an international perspective.
Rachel also spoke about recent changes in networking in the last few years and how the likes of Facebook and Twitter are now instant and effective ways for her work to be talked about. She is about to go to New York and is looking forward to seeing the latest form of communication: whatever that is. Not being scared of risk, she encouraged others to “aim high” and “make it happen”.
Taster Session No.2
The second session focused on Photography and was delivered by Arthur Ward and “Parlour Productions”: Elaine Hill and Jan Lowry. Anthony Toner from Flowerfield spoke briefly at the start of the session as someone who has worked with journalist photographers in the past.
Although based in Flowerfield, Anthony works in various formats in “the industry”: arts manager, song-writer, musician and performer, etc. One of the threads in this session was about using all of your strengths and transferable skills when working in the CI’s and Anthony is an example of this.
Having given up a main job to create his work, Arthur Ward spoke about the constant desire to keep improving his skills and create strong images. The rewards for his creativity offer a tremendous sense of job satisfaction, freedom and being able to “own” his work. He spoke about following his passion as he works on exclusive art pieces while other projects are more commercial.
Another important aspect is working in collaboration: not expecting that he has all of the specialist skills but working with others who “connect” with ideas. Arthur was honest and his presentation demonstrated his keenness to develop strong, high quality images.
Elaine Hill and Jan Lowry have recently started to work together. Both come from a Photography and Visual Arts background and their collaborative projects bring out the best in their skills. Constantly networking in the areas of journalist photography and weddings, they also create spaces and artistic locations which form perfect environments for photo shoots. They recently produced images for Remos Uno menswear which have been used across the UK and their pictures are strong enough to form a story board for any film or animation. Again, collaboration with others in the industry allows their work to happen: make-up artists, models, actors, etc. Further potential is huge and the girls have plans to take their skills into new and exciting areas.
In true collaborative and creative fashion the facilitators finished the session by asking those attending to explain their skills and why were they there. The gathering was made up of a commercial photographer, scientific photographer, a community artist, a textile artist, an installation artist who works in set and stage design and a visual communicator. Participants could already see the potential for their work and left the sessions looking forward to further developments and support of this nature.