Creativity is about discovering your own ways of working, your own unique practice, and growing the confidence needed to accept that.  It’s not about learning how to create something like everyone else, it’s about learning how to acknowledge the true value of what you do.

Philippa Stanton

I’m always on the lookout for tools to help me expand my creative life and one of the best I have found recently is the book ‘Conscious Creativity’ by Philippa Stanton. I knew that I was going to love it when it made me realise that my habit of visiting a tree stump in Battersea Park did not necessarily mean that I had lost my mind, but merely engaging in the concept of Wabi Sabi.

I’ve been visiting this stump for years – I like to stand for a while and notice the nuances of advancing decay, pondering the fact that this once mighty creation is slowly but surely being reclaimed by the earth from whence it came. My friend Helen does, indeed, think I’m completely mad for doing this, taking great pleasure in introducing me as ‘Mel – who likes to watch tree stumps!’ I don’t mind because I had thought it was a little strange as well – strange that is, until I read this book.

Philippa is an amazing creative, and you cannot help but get instantly caught up in her enthusiasm and understanding of what creativity can be – where therein you will find the very joy of this book.  Notwithstanding the quite wonderful photography, she takes you gently through ways to discover what kind of creative you may be, your aesthetic preferences and how to use them, the importance of having a creative structure, and then how to move beyond such structure as you become more curious and inventive.

How about your relationship with time? Or that boredom, fear, insecurity and getting it wrong should not be things to be hidden away, but instead embraced by you.

I have always considered myself creative but had never realised that I could not only look at colours in different ways but collect them for a colour essay! Have you ever thought about collecting shadows? Well, Philippa shows you how.

And this, I believe, is one of the greatest strengths of this book – because I found that it has sent me into areas that I would never, ever have considered, and given me ideas of creative pursuits that I cannot wait to engage in going forward.

There are wonderful chapters on ‘The Senses and Synaesthesia’, of ‘Atmosphere and Nothing’ and, very importantly, ‘Documenting’ everything you collect.’ I should also give an honourable mention to my favourite chapter – ‘Texture and Wabi Sabi.

What I have written here can’t do this book real justice but, in any event, I think Philippa sums up its tone perfectly where she says –

‘…changing your perception of the world around you is incredibly exciting and insightful. It empowers you to see truth rather than assumed knowledge. The unremarkable becomes something that holds the potential for endless new ideas.’

I can’t say better than that, but I am going to have the very last word –

Would you believe that washing up could enhance your creative insight? No?

Well this book shows that it really can!

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