• Dr Margi Brown Ash

DOING THINGS IN NEW WAYS: let's be the change we wish to see...

Public Art, Montreal. October, 2019

When we have been doing things like creating work for a long time in the same way, it may be good to shake things up a bit. This could mean many things: we could switch art forms for a while (a dancer stands in the shoes of an actor, a theatre maker tests their skills at writing novels etc); we could walk away from the work entirely and dream; take a course; go on a trek...The requirement is that what we choose is either in nature or art: by embracing art, by living in nature, we move towards wellness in every sense of the word. We are also creating space to think about the power of the positive and how to act in order to prepare ourselves for what Clare Press (in her book Rise and Resist How to Change The World) named as the new counterculture, renegotiating our lives through creative acts so that we become sustainable, wiser and kinder.

My current research interest lies in what happens to our sense of responsibility and community when we become older: is wisdom bestowed upon us or do we need to pass through some sort of initiation, a philosophical investigation into a new way of being in the world. Many researchers talk about the third act of our lives, our third chapter, as being the richest time, a time when women can leave behind the ordinariness of daily living and embrace a more spiritual and creative activist path. The word spiritual stymies some people, but I am using it here to mean believing in something greater than ourselves. The meaning of the word activist is also complex. The Dali Lama once said that it will be the western woman who saves the world. Whether this is true is not the point, the point is that those of us who live healthy lives , with a roof over our head, food to eat and relatively peaceful surroundings, are the ones who can create the time to think and act beyond our own survival. There are many ways of being an activist, to create change, and art making is a powerful tool to do it.

Sarah Corbett in her book How to Be a Craftivist: The art of gentle protest, talks about the potential of activism to be beautiful, fairer and kinder:

"If we want our world to be a more beautiful, kind and fair place, then shouldn't our activism be more beautiful, kind and fair?"

There are visual artists who create random acts of kindness, leaving cards or mini works of art on the bus/ferry/train for someone to find. A friend of mine, Anita Lever, a Sydney artist and art therapist decided to create beautiful brooches made out of material offcuts, leaving them around Sydney for people to find. It is her attempt to provide a stimuli to take people out of their mobile phones for a moment and contemplate something beautiful. Through her generosity she demonstrated a peaceful activism that was 'beautiful, kind and fair'.

The workshop that I am offering on 16th February 2020, will be an opportunity for senior artists to share their stories about their lives, what they want to do with their 'third chapter', and how they want to do it. If you identify as female, live close to Brisbane and are moving away from mid-career into what I see as your life's work, this workshop could be for you. It will be small, intimate and creative. It will be collaborative, nurturing and gentle. A perfect environment to reinvent what it is we want to leave the world. Please contact if you are interested.