Tuesday 29 November

The Creative Arts: irrelevant or underestimated? By Elizabeth Baker (Year 13)

CA illustration 1

CA illustration 2

With the launch of the latest Student Magazine, entirely produced by members of the Sixth Form, we thought we'd share some of the interesting articles and musings on the blog site.  The first is an interesting article by Elizabeth Baker on the importance of the Arts in contributing the creativity in everyday life and whether it is given enough credability in our education system.  The article has been brought to life by some stunning illustrations by Mary Lykova (Year 13) and we are delighted to be able to share these.

All those that have found a love of the Arts struggle to be taken seriously in their studies, work and even whole careers. A stigma surrounds the arts as a soft, easy subject for all those that are not intelligent enough for Academic subjects.

As a result, many people are put off the idea of pursuing an artistic career in which they may have thrived and adored, for fear of seeming academically unsuccessful, unrealistic or just lazy. Yet for individuals from Jamie Oliver to Coco Chanel, an education and pursuit of a career in the arts had yielded massive success.

The creative industry permeates a huge range of things we just don't notice in our day-to-day lives. How about fashion? Pick an item of clothing you own, maybe you're wearing it right now. That piece of clothing has likely been meticulously planned and designed, scrapped, reimagined, tweaked and perfected countless numbers of times to even make it to the final cut.

The arts are in anything and everything we see in our world. Yet we take all this completely for granted. This morning we all rolled out of bed, got out of those pjs, maybe flicked on the radio or checked the morning paper. Some of us put on some makeup, others ate a bit of toast, but we all interacted with someone's final product of massive amounts of hard work. (Interior Design, radio, music, the written word, fashion, the culinary arts- on PowerPoint). And we haven't even begun to touch on the major industries of music and film.

However, if we look at the Creative Arts as equally challenging, rewarding and beneficial to study as, say, the sciences -this does then beg the question, are subject choices a fair measurement of ability? What could have been made of these brilliant creative minds had they somehow joined the ranks of brilliant academics of their time?

Professor of speech sciences at University College London, Valerie Hazan says: "As a scientist you have to be creative to really think what is the question."

Poet, Lavinia Greenlaw says: "Poets are often thought of as vague and wishy-washy, but, like scientists, they can't be. A poem can be about vagueness, but it has to be in precise relationship to vagueness if it's any good.”  

Perhaps it's not only the would-be-rock stars-turned-accountants that are missing out. Perhaps the Industries themselves are missing out on prospective innovations and contributions that a wider diversity of talent and types of intelligence could bring. A creatively-nurtured brain could bring a critical new perspective to a patient's diagnosis or ground-breaking new scientific theory to the table. Interestingly Albert Einstein, for one, had a passion for classical music and playing the violin. In fact, historically a proficiency in arts and sciences has proven to produce the most impressive individuals, like Plato (epistemology, militarism to politics) and Brian Cox.

Conversely, our society today pigeonholes individuals so easily that great potential may be woefully neglected. Confining and categorising ourselves in this way as Creative or non-Creative, to me at least, therefore seems entirely illogical. This is especially true of the incredibly early specialisation seen in England's schools where children as young as 13, are required to drop subjects. Imagine if Leonardo da Vinci had gone through our education system today. One of the greatest geniuses of our history may have been put into the bottom set for maths, been completely discouraged in his abilities outside painting and sculptures and turned solely to art. Some of the world's most outstanding investigations into human anatomy, botany, machinery, military engineering, and physics would have been completely lost to the world. Or maybe his mathematical talents would have been recognised but isolated, forcing him into a corresponding career, never allowing him to take an artistic apprenticeship and develop his artistic talents or paint 'The Last Supper' or the 'Mona Lisa'.

Da Vinci, like many leaders of the Renaissance humanist movement, never saw a divide between science and art, seeing them instead as intertwined disciplines from which one benefitted from one another. For that reason, I think da Vinci would approve of my saying that I believe we need to rekindle our respect for the Arts and allow our talented individuals to redevelop a relationship between science and art and pave the way towards their joint thriving evolution.