Ahead of her solo exhibition Numinous, Sydney-based artist, writer and psychotherapist Noula Diamantopoulos talks about her latest book You Are. That Is. Creative. which will be officially launched alongside the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday 2 November from 6-8pm.
You Are. That Is. Creative. is your first book. Can you tell us how it links in with your artistic practice and latest body of neon works?
Writing a book is a creative process and like my artistic process it is about exploring aspects of yourself, the world you live in and your place in that world. And so writing is another lens that I am using to explore something different – writing allows me to communicate something which a line can’t give me, or a colour can’t give me, but at the end of the day they are all complimentary ways of creating and expressing.
When you envisioned Quest, did you picture the sense of ritual your performance would create ?
Quest is my performative art – a genre in art that is presented live. I created in back in 2010 and first presented it in 2011. I was then invited to present that at the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair and the Melbourne Contemporary Art Fair. The length of the the performance was four days and its an endurance performance which means I didn’t take a break from performing for the duration of the day. No break for bathroom nor for eating. The length of the day ranged from 6 hours to 9 hours which was has been the longest I have ever performed Quest for.
Quest was birthed from a challenge that was presented to me by my curator. She asked me how can I bridge my art practice with my psychotherapy practice. What is Quest then? simple. Its a series of written questions between two people – a dialogue of questions only – experienced in silence and in writing. You can see a visual of Quest in action at www.noulaquesing.tblogspot.com.au
And to answer your question directly – like all art forms including mosaics – our process evolves. If this was performed as a one off piece then I don’t feel that I would have understood the depth of what I had created. If we create only one mosaic that feels like ticking something of the bucket list. If we persevere and create mosaics for one year and longer then our art practice changes because we have nurtured it – given it breathing space – and in return our artwork responds by growing in a way totally unanticipated. What was old becomes new with new insights and ideas seeking to be explored.
In the book you give some really interesting exercises to develop your creativity… Have you found particular exercises are more successful with different personalities types?
In the book I have shared a number of my ‘how to awaken you imagination and get on with creating’ exercises and I have provided a multi varied approach because we are not all the same. Some will appeal to those who tend towards reflecting, others who lean towards doing and a whole bunch more creative exercises that lie somewhere along this spectrum. The thing is this. The exercises produce results. Not only for artists but also for career people. I know because I have received feedback from those who have already purchased my book. I think this is an important point because whilst I knew with certainty that the exercises work when I facilitate them live, I didn’t have the same level of certainty that they would translate between my voice and the readers ears!
The last part of the book covers many of the stages of being a creative and becoming a creative…..how autobiographical is this?
I hope that readers of this book will feel that they are not alone. That what they are experiencing whilst travelling on this planet, has a universal flavour. We all experience self doubt. We all wonder if we are enough or have done enough.
We all question our ability to create. And I hope that the readers of this book will be affirmed and can realise their creative potential and if that is too much then at a minimum I hope that the words in the book have given the reader permission to be their own kind of creative without boundaries to external definitions.
What is the underlying theme or message which you are trying to impart with your book and latest body of artworks?
My key message in the book and via my neon artworks, is to be reflective. And of course neon signs are in themselves light – and the words and the use of the light creates a reflection – so there is also an underlying sense of fun and a cheeky humour which is used to deliver this message.
The way that I work with words is to help the viewer work with their imagination and discover something else about the way that we choose words when we communicate – not only with others but also with ourselves – and that words do matter. That reflection does matter. That words matter because they can in fact illuminate and give us insight.
Language is a curious being. Linguistics are curious. It can actually solve things for us. Depending on where you put a comma or how we relate to the way we use a particular word. And I get inspired by that and excited by that. It’s not about people being told what to do or how to think or what to feel, but I do like inciting thought and different ways of seeing and thinking. And I also like people working with their imagination. I want people to access their imagination. I want them to see how much of a powerhouse they can be when they use the full force of their imagination…
Interview by Francesca O’Donnell and Rhianna Walcott.