Participation is a sop to the masses


Participation Lacks Intent


Participation is a Political Act


Participation is Risky


Participation is Compassion


Participation is getting stuck in


Participation is Profligate


Creative and Cultural Learning.


Today we re-looked at Creative and Cultural Learning.

  • We started by examining some of the popular definitions – including ‘All Our Futures’ – imaginative, purposeful, original, of value.
  • Looked at how ideas of creativity developed historically – Ancient Greece (Nature), Renaissance Europe (the Polymath, science, technology, art) Romanticism (Kant and The Genius), 20th/21st century (Jung and Psycho-analysis).
  • Revisited Csikszentmihalyi and Flow – Preparation, Incubation, Insight, Evaluation, Elaboration.
  • Considered the role of cultural hegemony (Gramsci) and being culturally literate (Bourdieu). Examined Carl Rogers notions that creativity is everywhere and Paul Willis’ idea of ‘oppositional culture’ and the role of class and the symbolic.
  • Questioned the 21st century blurring of creativity/innovation.


We examined the possibility of there being something we could name the Creative Disposition?
Starting with Guy Claxton’s analysis of the dispositions of creative individuals. CREATE
• Curiosity: wondering about things, living with the question
• Resilience: independence of thought, standing out from the crowd if need be
• Experimenting: playing about with ideas, materials, asking what if…?
• Attentiveness: becoming rapt, becoming immersed in solving the problem
• Thoughtfulness: having a respectful scepticism towards your intuition, being able to segue between dreaminess and focused thinking
• Environment setting: being aware of what helps them at different points in the creative process, surrounding themselves by the right people.


We reminded ourselves about Creativity and Play. (Piaget etc.) Creativity and structure (Whitehead). Creativity and Collaboration (Vgotsky). Creativity and Symbolic (Willis).

About the cross-over between social field (people who support/influence), domain knowledge (skills) and the symbolic and the personal.  About creativity in Science – role of logic, genius, serendipity and zeitgeist in creative solutions. (Simonton) and having a range of interests outside one’s main field.

We re-visited Polayni and the notion of tacit knowledge – starting with mixing it with passion in scientific discovery. And then thinking about how it applied to the creation of art?

We argued for and against each of these statements.

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.’ — Vincent Van Gogh C 19th

I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer…[a conception of] education as the practice of freedom…. education that connects the will to know with the will to become. Learning is a place where paradise can be created.’ bell hooks C 20th

‘To develop a complete mind, study the science of art, study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.’ Leonardo da Vinci C 15th

‘Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire C 20th

‘He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet.’ Joseph Joubert C18th

One learns through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.’ Mark Twain C19th

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.’ Einstein C20th

Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.’ Aristotle C 300 BC

I am convinced that we must train not only the head, but the heart and hand as well.‘ Soong May-ling Mme Chiang Kai Shek C20th


We re-visited our own work on Cultural Identity

Examined Hofstede’s suggestion that cultures are classified by four things: their symbols, their rituals, values and heroes. Asked ourselves how we related to these.  Wondered how we identified ourselves? Which groups we felt we belonged to? Asked if cultural identity is ever fixed? Discussed whether we felt it was socially or institutionally constructed?

We looked at the notion of sub-groups (e.g. occupation) and sub-cultures (or ‘co-cultures’? e.g. within ethnicity).  Re-considered cultural hegemony and notions of ‘the other’ – i.e. not ‘Western Civilisation’ – our ‘othering’ of others.


We thought about cultural communities: Raymond Williams. Listed some of the communities we belonged to – including imagined communities like nations.  Re-visited McMillan and Chavis’ definition of Community as being about membership, influence, re-inforcement and emotional connection.

Thought about the tension between the Individual and the Collective (c.f. Chris Johnson’s polarities)

We considered the role of cultural institutions? Asked if we felt they represented both the cultural majority/minority/and how they represent them? Wondered how best we might work with them? Thought about the kinds of culture/art/on offer in many of them.  Considered how, if at all, most of them engage with ‘the other’?

We determined to re-read Defining Culture and Identities

And ended with considering which was the odd one out and why in the list below? And thought about the implications of lists like this still being possible?
“black” music
“chick” lit
“working class” drama
“rap” poet
“women” composers
“street” dance
“white men’s” history
“aboriginal” art


Ishibadi Buildings – Osaka

imageThe Ishibadi Buildings – built with all the post-war hopes and optimism for the reconstruction of society – have become a symbol for what community might mean.  Small, and with few mod cons, they nevertheless seem to capture a time when neighbours might know neighbours, when there was still space for shared gardens, walkways, places for children to play outside. For me they held a particular potency.  Built at the same period as my own council estate house in Leeds.

We (artists, members of the community, members of the university) have been thinking about what home means to us.  Reclaiming our own childhood memories, reconstructing and re-visiting the spaces they took place in. Trying to decide whether we were just being nostalgic for other times or whether, in a time when things felt tough again, there were any answers to be found in how we lived then.








Together we recreated both the real places we once occupied and those strange and magical spaces they occupy in our memories.


Situated, as they are, on the boundary between the university and the local community their impending demolition is irreversible.  It is too late for protest. But the Japanese law that declares no plot of land may be built on for three years after demolition of a building means there are opportunities within the threats. Possibilities to create a space where the local community and the university might come together. A space to grow things together, eat and drink, share stories.  Re-find old connections.  Tomorrow we start work on the Ishabadi houses.

Our three themes: Memory, Future and Farewell.

Memory – to honour those who had lived there and the stories they had shared with us.

Future – to offer possible suggestions for the way the land might be used in the next three years.

Farewell – to formalise our goodbyes to the old houses.

Our aesthetic: reclaimed objects, found materials, anything that could be salvaged from the houses and their overgrown gardens, the ‘wasteland’ around.

We wander through the houses again.  Seeking for lost treasures.  Unearthing relics.  Curating demolition.



Meanwhile in Osaka


Yesterday we visited the houses we are working on for our community project.  Compulsory hard hat territory as they have already started to knock some of them down.


Built at the end of the ’50s these rows of houses, like post-war homes all over Europe, were constructed from prefabricated concrete.  Modern for their time, quickly built to replace housing lost in the war, they now up for demolition, subject to claims that they are not earthquake proof according to today’s standards.  Coincidently the space they occupy is also premium land for new development.


Full of rich memories for those who once lived there we are looking at ways in which something mightimage be preserved.  Given that land has to remain empty for 3 years after buildings have been demolished we are thinking about community gardens, growing vegetables, eating together and persuading the developers to leave at least one house as a cafe.

We will be finding ways to collect the ideas of the local community and the university staff (these were once homes for lecturers and their families).  And planning a farewell ceremony for the houses, the ghosts and the memories that live in them.


As many of the buildings are already being destroyed we’ll be using objects and materials we save from them.