They Rose in Clouds

They Rose in Clouds, creativity workshop poster

“One evening, contrary to my custom, I drank black coffee and could not sleep. Ideas rose in clouds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination.”

Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, 1854-1912

Poincaré’s quote tells the tale of how, after working on a mathematical formula for two weeks, he was able to find his solution whilst in a state of reverie where he saw his ideas forming before his eyes, as a result of these visions he was able to formulate the theory of fuchsian functions and groups.

That particular evening has entered into the legends of creative studies and has long been held up as evidence by those who believe that the links between the subconscious and the conscious mind are intrinsic to a person’s ability to create new concepts and products by piecing together seemingly disparate and unconnected ideas. This genius view argues that creativity is a rarefied and unique gift that is only available only to a chosen few.

Luckily for the rest of us there is another argument. One that suggests that creativity is inherent in everyone. This argument stresses that once the cognitive processes, which allow us to think creatively, have been identified we can then train and developed them in order to improve our creative output.

My research falls somewhere between these two opinions. In recent years technology has enabled us to look at the neurology involved in creative thinking but the research is still very much ongoing. I believe that the links and the ability to access the subconscious do play an important part in creative thinking, which is why it is easier to find the answer to a problem when you enter a state of reverie or a similar change of thought pattern by going for a walk/run, having a bath, or via a massive caffeine hit… a lá Poincaré. But i also believe that once we are aware of our creative processes, or methods of generating subconscious links, then we can develop these processes and improve our accessibility to them.

My direction came from a quote by Picasso, who stated that “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” So I have turned to the field of child development for an answer. Research evidence suggests that certain types of play can help to develop crucial psychological processes, which allow access to the subconscious and facilitate certain characteristics that are used to measure creativity.

My question is this, can these processes be triggered in adults by using styles of play and creative enquiry, and if they can will they have the same benefits?

The workshop has been designed around exercises that are intended to encourage these processes; the aim will be to engage a sense of creative enquiry through play and will involve drawing, writing and storymaking. The workshop is based on findings from a previous trial, but has been developed significantly from the original event, so those who attended the first trial will be in for a very different experience.

Spaces are free but will be strictly limited. This is partly because the group will be kept small in order to maintain a comfortable environment, but also because there are a limited number of special items which will be key to the workshop.

I have asked that anyone who is interested in coming to please “book”… by which I mean send me an email or twitter me @thehourofplay. Thank you.

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