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Art making and The Big Silence

Glittering Shards: Art making and The Big Silence

Glittering Shards

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Art making and The Big Silence

I have been art making all week...tired, happy and frustrated as I always think I can achieve more in a day than I actually can (why is that? anyone else have this weird perception of time?!)
As I work, I normally flit between listening to music on the iPod to talk radio (BBC Radio 2,  4 or 5 depending on my mood!). What do you listen to while you work alone? Art making is often a solitary affair - days on end in a studio - and I do often wonder what my fellow artists fill the silence with. Do share...

Well, on Friday I felt an impulse to just turn off the noise and work in silence.

So I did.

This is not new - I have done it before and I like the brain space it gives for my thoughts to tumble out. But I realised that, after half an hour, I was getting tetchy and restless with the lack of external stimulus so I 'compromised' and put on classical music (no words).
It got me reflecting on my relationship to silence. I have often heard that silence - time to be with just yourself - is a very, very important thing. Years ago, I heard from a beautiful and influential spiritual man called Gordon Cosby, that if we all just sat in silent meditation for 20 minutes a day, the world would be a radically better place. I believe there is deep truth in this. I also recall being at the top of the Italian Dolomites about 6 years ago and being deeply affected by the total silence at the top of the mountain. The peace and sense of connection to a greater One was palpable. Still, despite this sense of knowing, I do not practice silence.

Last night, hubby and I collapsed on the sofa in that Friday night kind of way.  We flicked on the TV and stumbled upon this amazing BBC documentary called The Big Silence, showing the journey of 5 people embracing silent meditation for the first time. I was mesmerised and (at the end) moved to tears by their journey (part 2 and 3 are yet to air). If this issue speaks to you, please do click here and watch it (you have 20 days left from the date of this post to see episode 1 online). Let me know if you do and what you think...

The programme has really affected me and as a result , I am going to make a conscious effort to have longer periods of silence while I work and to overcome my restlessness in the absence of external noise and stimulus. Have you undertaken a similar journey? I would really love to hear. I will let you know how I get on!

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  • very interesting as always. I love silence and at times crave it so very badly, but maybe that's just silence instead of the incessant demands of parenting, working and life in the city. I listen to music (any) whilst art working, but can equally work in silence. The same with driving. Sometimes I have to drive in silence and love the space and time to think, just think, in silence.

    Will check out the interesting programme of which you speak.


    PS thank you so much for your insight on that photo I took - makes perfect sense! :)

    By Blogger Amelia, at 23 October 2010 at 23:44  

  • I think sometimes music distracts. Then again it depends on the KIND of music. Lounge or soft without words music is my choice when working (be it housework or creative).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 October 2010 at 11:57  

  • Interesting,I'll have to check it out. Usually when I'm working I have music going from my iphone, or a movie. I'm kind of a movie nut, I love them. There are times though when I turn it all off and just concentrate on what I'm doing. The time really flies when I'm focused. And yes, it often takes a lot longer to finish a project than I imagined.

    ps: lately in the studio I've been listening to the weepies, love their music. :)

    By Blogger Jenny Lee Wentworth, at 24 October 2010 at 15:54  

  • Hello Concetta! Yes, I can relate to your difficulties estimating creative time! I think it's got to do with getting into flow, when you DO lose sense of time...

    Anyways, to your interesting topic of sound and silence. I actually listen to silence while I create. When I do household work I enjoy music or talk radio.

    I think for me it's got to do with the ever increasing stream of media I'm surrounded by. From Facebook updates to text messages and the internet... radio in stores... ads everywhere... I find it more and more important to find a quiet space for my own creativity.

    I also veer off from visual inspiration while I'm creating. Partly to make sure that what I make is as genuinely me as it can be. One can't help but be influenced and inspired by other artists, but it's important to stay true to oneself.

    Alright, stepping off my soapbox...

    Oh, and I wanted to see the video but unfortunately it seems to be UK only, it gives me a message that it's not viewable in my region. I think the BBC can be like that sometimes...


    By Anonymous Kate England, at 25 October 2010 at 13:50  

  • This is really interesting! I usually work along with some music or letting a movie run but sometimes i do enjoy the silent moments too! Thanks so much for sharing The Big Silence with us! Have a lovely merry happy week and love to you!

    ps: YOur work is soo gorgeous!

    By Anonymous jacqueline, at 25 October 2010 at 14:39  

  • Hey there, yes! sometimes a whole day passes and i dont even remember where it went! I have been working in silence more than i used to and maybe that is because it really is such a luxury. If im painting i do usually have some chillout music on, I prefer the music only kind without singing as I find this influences me and i like to see what comes from within. Your work above looks wonderful...all your work is wonderful. :-) Have a fabulous creative week xx

    By Blogger Louise Gale, at 25 October 2010 at 20:49  

  • solitary indeed. (and a little dark, too, as my shop is in the basement. Sometimes I feel like a troll)
    I listen to music, podcasts, NPR talk radio, or nothing at all. Sometimes I realize I am working in silence, and it was not a conscious decision at all. Just what must have felt right at the moment.
    I am so curious about the big silence now, I'll watch that clip later today. thanks for sharing.

    By Blogger AG Ambroult, at 26 October 2010 at 16:41  

  • Hmm all different music depending on what i am doing work wise. Florence and the machine 'Lungs' album always makes me paint. Also classic fm (feel old confessing this, but perhaps time to realise this.) Also chill out music and Japanese music too! I will look out for the programme you mentioned and when I get some time to myself will watch. Silence is like gold dust in my house. Do you think we could teach the kids this????

    By Blogger blue sky butterfly studio, at 27 October 2010 at 22:34  

  • Thanks for your thoughts everyone - shall try some of the music recommendations! I too 'confess' to classic FM! Its funny you say about teaching it to kids cos last weekend in the car (after seeing that programme) we suggested we all have some silent time. Lasted one minute but just introducing the concept felt good!

    By Blogger Concetta, at 28 October 2010 at 08:29  

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