The Cost of Creativity: Slice of Life #4

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hIn my “Creative Mind” Capstone class (best class ever!) we recently watched a video documentary on Andy Goldsworthy and his art. Andy uses found natural objects to create masterpieces in the Scottish countryside near his home. His pieces are unique, creative and beautiful. He is deeply connected to the land and puts his soul into each creation. A seed-shaped rock sculpture, a serpentine chain of stone and wool curving through the trees, a mesh fence of woven twigs all add a spiritual grace to the spaces where they are added.

The film showed Andy at home on his farm in rural Scotland. He is a respected artist and his family appeared to have their needs met comfortably. In one scene, Andy’s wife makes breakfast for their four children while he sits down to eat what she serves him. We have just watched him create an ice sculpture that will be washed away by the incoming tide within minutes of completion. One of the following scenes shows him lying in the grass absorbing the gentle rain, while his kids walk to school. I was instantly outraged. For the rest of the film I tried to focus on Andy’s art and creativity, which I admired and thought was beautiful, but my mind kept returning to the breakfast scene.

“I feel like I’ve been frying bacon all morning,” Andy’s wife says. He continues to chew his food, undisturbed, while she works to feed, dress and ready four young children for school. When Andy tells his wife where he is going that day, she asks him what he is going to build. A note of condescension flavors his reply that he works from inspiration, not a plan, and she should know that.

“Isn’t that nice,” I think sarcastically, while the rest of the class is absorbed in the details of his creative process. “Perhaps your wife would like a bit of that inspiration. Maybe she would lie to feel soft raindrops on her face instead of grease splatters.” Nobody can ever know the intimate details of another couple’s marriage, but perhaps Andy’s wife longs for the time and space to foster her own creativity for as project greater than getting four children to wash their faces, brush their teeth and be on time for school. Getting four elementary-aged children out the door wearing clothes and their own backpacks is a tough job. Ask me how I know.

This video hit home for me because for twelve years my husband was like Andy, but without the income and recognition. I worked at least two, and sometimes three or four, jobs while my husband pursued his art. I do not begrudge my husband his creative pursuits but I do begrudge this enormous amount of time he got to devote to them. We eventually evened the scales. I joined two writing groups and went a couple retreats. I returned to college to finish my degree, hoping for one job that gives me more time to write and create. I hope Andy’s wife gets the same consideration.


3 thoughts on “The Cost of Creativity: Slice of Life #4

  1. Melissa, I can just picture everyone else watching this video just enthralled with his art and process. Meanwhile, you have picked up all of these subtle undertones that almost no one else probably noticed. And if they had, I’m sure their thoughts wouldn’t have floated immediately to Andy’s wife. Your slice made me think and reconsider. Thank you for that.


  2. Thanks for this post. I never had to deal with that, but I have friends who supported their husbands through their creative processes or maybe school, and when it came time to reverse the process, maybe they were there or maybe not. It is a gentle reminder of the give and take that is the process of partnership.


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