When the art appears

There’s no moment quite so rewarding as this.

Yesterday, I sent the draft of Wish You Were Here to the authors. It’s not finished, but it is already a book, something with its own character, new and unforeseen. This is creation, the act of bringing something into existence. In language, it is especially magical because it’s not made from other materials, just thoughts and speech. It can be written down, materialised, but it lives and is transmitted from one mind to another. I did not expect or work towards this book, or any book, when I accepted an invitation to lead some creative writing workshops in Boston. It has been woven from the connections between the people who responded to the invitation, by their sharing of texts and their responses to one another’s texts. Each story or poem is the work of one person, but the book is the result of co-creation, something that has come from us all working together, with care.

And today, Rosie Redzia—with whom I worked on A Wider Horizon—sent me some of the drawings she’s been working on. We agreed that they shouldn’t be illustrations, so she hasn’t read the text yet. Instead, I sent her a long list of subjects from which to choose—places, things, nature. I imagined her drawings as a harmony line, sometimes closer, sometimes distant, colouring the words with another kind of connection. As I saw what she’s done, without knowing the book, I smiled, and kept smiling. 

There’s work to be done before the book is published in the summer, so it’s a pleasure to share two or three of Rosie’s drawings as a glimpse of what’s to come.

There’s no moment quite like this. So much of community art is in the journey, the being-together, listening, learning and discovering—and all that is full of wonders too, but it is made meaningful when art comes into being from that shared process: its product, validation and marker. Art that goes out into the world, to find new connections, independent of its creator. And this art, born out of lockdown through the work of people who have met only on Zoom, feels very special. 

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