I watched “The madness of Peter Howson” on TV tonight.
I watched him spending months and months creating a painting of John Ogilvie, Catholic son of a Scottish Calvinist, who was hanged for ‘refusing to accept the King’s spiritual jurisdiction’.
For Howson, the creative process was a tortuous one- constantly making and remaking the work, whilst struggling with depression and suicidal feelings.
Along the way he was diagnosed as suffering from Aspergers syndrome, and his assets are now managed by a Guardian.
I have met Howson at an art exhibition we staged as part of an Aoradh event- he cuts an odd and rather shambolic figure, but his genius is without doubt. It arises out of his own twisted brokeness which seem to be the compost in which this wonderful art grows.
Which set me thinking again about creativity- where it comes from, and what can set it loose.
For Howson, this is not a risk free joyful process- it is crowded with self doubt and self criticism. But above all, his creativity is driven– he is compelled to create.
My own experience is far more limited- in terms of my creative talent, my drive and thankfully even my measure of existential angst. But there was something in watching Howson tonight that very much resonated with me- and no doubt would do with lots of creative people.
For us, creating things brings life.
But it also pitches us on a rollercoaster of emotion- joy, doubt, uncertainty, crises of confidence.
But not getting on the rollercoaster is simply not an option.
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1st collector for BBC News – Howson completes Ogilvie work
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