As a part of the Nicola Valley Arts Council, I have been reflecting on art and creativity and what it means in my life. I’ve realized I appreciate and need the tactile experience and gratification of making things with my hands. For the almost 12 years that I owned and worked at Brambles Bakery, I had the daily satisfaction of creating loaves, cakes and treats, watching them be eaten and enjoyed, and then starting the process over again for the next day. I wouldn’t have considered this “creative” - but now looking back I think it actually was a form of art. It certainly was an outlet for a type of creativity, at least.
I love to see what my hands have produced at the end of the day, and lately that’s come in the form of mugs and dishes made of clay. I’ve traded the silky, pillowy feel of dough for the slippery, muddy delight of pottery. I make a “batch” and set it out on trays on the baker’s rack - the same rack that held loaves of sourdough and monster cookies, the granola and croissants, “borrowed” from the bakery and now taken up residence in my basement laundry room.
The stages of solid, wet clay to something functional and pretty are not dissimilar to the stages of baking: raw flour into something alive and growing, to a beautiful and delicious final product. The steps along the way involve precise timing, an awareness of what your material is up to in any given hour, and how long you have before you must get back and attend to its next need. Miss the window and you’ve got over-proofed dough, or too hard clay, and the next step is frustration!
The feeling at the outcome is the same - satisfaction that I’ve produced something for someone to enjoy, and I can be on to the next batch! The only downside is that pottery isn’t consumable, so folks can’t become addicted and need a constant supply (though there’s still granola, available at the NVCAC gallery gift shop, for that!).
So while I would not have considered myself an artist, the more time I spend around the inspiring and talented folks in our valley who are part of the Arts Council, the more I realize art can be in everything we do, and you don’t have to define yourself as an “artist” to appreciate the role that creativity can have as an outlet for expression.