Small is Beautiful

I attended the Small is Beautiful conference (having been awarded a breakthrough fellowship) last Wednesday.  I came away stimulated with fresh thinking on how to live as an artist and navigate through and around the edges of current economic models of ‘making a living’.   There where multiple threads I could follow but what has stuck is:

  • Alexa Clay’s metaphor of the ‘misfit economy’ and how it is important to connect with people and communities that evoke discomfort in us, they have something to teach.
  • The dance of big and small (John Thackara).  I want to stay with the small, I do not want to create a business but rather be able to earn enough to continue doing what  I love – which is creating and researching through art.  There is also something here for me of seeing the extra-ordinary in the mundane and keeping things at a human scale.
  • Patricia Van Der Akker’s question – ‘What is your definition of success’ struck a cord.  For me it is having a quality of life rather than a quantity of money and yet they are not separate.  It is about being known and yet not being on stage as a ‘star’.  It is about being in conversation through my art with others.
  • The final talk by Carl Honore was another reminder of the importance of listening to/working with the natural cycles of a life/of a year/of a day.  To tune into and work with being still and activity; incubation and creation.  The importance of honouring the natural rhythm of each moment, doing things at the right speed for that task and working less to work better.   I have known this for awhile but is was good to re-reminded as it is so easy to get caught up in rush of doing and the demands of an ever growing ‘to do’ list.