Do you ever find that there are people or places that you are inexplicably drawn to but you can’t really put your finger on why? I think I’ve felt that way about The Creators for a little while now. To be honest - I’m a mum in her 40’s - I’m probably not exactly their target audience. But there has been something about the way that they do what they do; collective workspace, creative spaces, creators markets, lots of events centred around creativity, that has really resonated with me.
The other day, I noticed a post about their Friday coffee hour - a 7:30am coffee and porridge meet up with guest speaker to fuel you up for your Friday. This week they had Stephen James Hart coming along. Born in New Zealand, Stephen is a Visual Worship Leader at Bethel Church over in California. Cool, I thought….and messaged all my younger, hipper friends to let them know it was happening. No thought to actually going myself. As the day progressed, I could feel a little nudge, so I had another look at the post. Sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but this time I got it loud and clear - it was me that was supposed to go.
It was a fairly early start to get over to Hamilton.
The bonus was an incredible sunrise and when I rocked up at The Creators at 7:30 am, I was feeling fresh and ready for coffee.
Photo: The Creators
God gave me two kisses on the cheek before I even sat down to listen to Stephen talk. The first was a beautiful young girl called Ella - a fine art student with such passion and excitement about her work and where it might take her. The feeling that my own work could take me to places that I can’t imagine yet began to rise up inside me again (it does that from time to time, particularly when I encounter people like Ella!). Then, as we were talking (having not even introduced ourselves), she suddenly said “Wait - are you Caroline Burton?”. Turns out that she and her sister visited my exhibition “Created” back in February. She’s even on my email list (Hi Ella!!)
The second “kiss” was in the form of Stephen’s Mum, who was there with the rest of his family. She straight out came up to me and said “You look like Caroline Burton”! It turns out that she follows me on Instagram and recognised me from there. And she is an incredibly talented oil painter - you really should check out her work at jacquihart.com.
Now, don’t get me wrong - the “kisses” were not about recognition (although, it was kind of cool at the time!). They were about the encouragement that other artists, who are very gifted, see something that they love in my work. We can be our own worst critics, can’t we? And so these encouragements were a wonderful antidote to my overly harsh inner voice. And my creator knows that because He knows me intimately.
I LOVED listening
to Stephen. He had some really encouraging and astute things to say about creativity (and you all know that creativity is my obsession ;-)
Photo: Rachel Soh
It was really useful to hear his thoughts on how it is often beneficial to place some structure around creativity in order to meet goals or even just to realise outcomes. Because creativity is a process, it can be quite hard to know when you’ve finished with something. Stephen pointed out that when you are working collaboratively, without some structure and order, it can be particularly hard to reach completion of a project. It's useful to have defined some parameters before you start. This was a great insight for me because I can see that a little structure and planning would really benefit my work and my ability to focus. Truth be told, I can be a little easily distracted, even when I'm just working on my own stuff!
Stephen also talked about the value of recognising the opportunity for creativity in every situation. He gave an example of some 11th hour changes to a collaborative project that he had thought was completed. I think this sort of situation would irritate the most patient of us, but Stephen challenged us to instead see the opportunity for further creative expression. This is probably a great attitude to have in all areas of life, isn’t it? It’s a fact that sometimes, goal posts move and it is easy to become a little grumpy. I love the idea that with a slight shift of perspective, this becomes an opportunity rather than an irritation.
To be honest, the interview was over all too quickly - Stephen is funny, engaging and very insightful. I loved hearing about his journey and his awesome outlook on creativity and life in general. The way that he treats what many would consider setbacks (we all have them!) as opportunities for personal growth. And the way that his work and creative process are completely intertwined with his relationship with God. It’s the way we were designed to be.
Having visited The Creators, I can now put my finger on what it is that drew me to them. It is their passion for celebrating creativity and encouraging creative expression - so totally in line with my own. Plus they seem like a genuinely nice bunch of people that you can’t help but want to hang out with.
Links you’re going to love: The Creators, Jacqui Hart,
Reorganising meetings so that he could take the kids to school for me: Mr Caroline Burton Fibre Artist (you're the best xxx)