Wednesday, 25 August 2010

today I am an artist

Je suis une artist

When you wear an 'Artist' wristband at a festival with such an amazing line up it is hard not to feel like a bit of a a fraud but I have to say that this purpley cerise strip of fabric made me feel pretty special ... I'm even keeping it on now that I'm home to remind myself of my achievement :)

On Saturday evening I stood in front of about 30 people in a yurt in Einstein's Garden and spoke about my personal journey into and out of creativity and then back into creativity and beyond into computing and how I've realised that very little separates art from science. The talk lasted less than 5 minutes; 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide ... when I finished I was literally breathless. It was in many ways an utterly terrifying experience and next time I will do it better but it was brilliant to be able to share my story (alongside Neil Cocker who talked about how to simplify your life and Emma-Louise Hardman who talked about her Climate Stories journey, and also six other inspiring speakers).

Although I couldn't really relax properly for the first half of the festival it was worth it for the experience and it felt good to be (literally) labelled as an artist for the whole weekend :)

My musical highlights of Green Man were:

Lowrie Evans
Sweet Baboo
Erland & the Carnival (esp. Trouble in Mind)
Billy Bragg
Lone Wolf
Laura Marling
Mumford & Sons
Josie Long
Joanna Newsom

More personal highlights and reminiscences to follow shortly :)

songs that stop me in my tracks: Open Heart Zoo by Martin Grech

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Go in the direction of your fears

These blog posts have resonated wildlly with me recently:

I've been thinking a lot about about identity and honesty since yesterday's blogpost ... Last year a friend of a friend said to her "the thing about Helen is she's fearless." That really couldn't be further from the truth but (having read Ruth Ann Harnisch's blogpost) I'm starting to think I might be able to be fearless for 'the one' ... we'll see.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Me and my aspirations laid bare

To some of you this might come as a bit of a surprise, or perhaps it's pretty obvious to most already but I have spent most of my adult life battling to overcome a sometimes cripplingly low self confidence. When it's come to taking opportunities to progress I have mostly relied on being in the right place at the right time and/or the encouragement of others to make me go for it. My natural inclination is to wait for someone to tell me that I stand a good chance of succeeding or to let the opportunity pass by ... usually because I feel that I'm not ready, or I don't have time to put together a decent application, or that I wouldn't deliver if I did get through, or whatever other paper-thin excuses that my monkey mind has dreamt up. All too often I've taken myself out of the running rather than risk failure or rejection.

The reason I'm telling you this is that I want something big and I want to ask for your help to make me brave enough to go for it ... This seems like an utterly ludicrous thing to be typing but I'd like to apply for a place on the TED Fellowship scheme ... madness, total lunatic madness right? As soon as the little hopeful voice inside me thought 'ooh, that would be *amazing* ... I wonder if I could apply' it was swamped by a tidal wave of self-doubt rushing in the other direction. That wave of self-doubt boils down to me struggling to see what I've done that is remarkable enough to justify putting in an application ... basically a huge big, resounding, tuneless chorus of 'I'm not worthy'.

So here's how you might be able to help ... if you can think of anything that I've done that seems remarkable to you or has inspired you in any way then please leave a comment below (or send me an email if you'd rather not do it publically). If you are kind enough to share your thoughts with me then I'll happily and gratefully reward you with a doodle in return ... that's not meant as an inducement or a bribe, I just know how much effort it takes to put time aside to do stuff like this.

My gut feeling is that I should wait another year (or two or three) until I have done something bold and outstanding but maybe you see things differently? All views welcome but be gentle if it's a 'don't be so flaming daft' comment :)

A rose by any other name

For nearly a year I've been grappling in the back of my mind with the question of whether it still made sense to have two separate twitter accounts. Last month I came to the conclusion that there is so much convergence in my art life and my non-art life that it would be better to drop one of the accounts. In the process I confused myself and just about everyone else who noticed something had changed. In the interests of (hopefully) clarifying things and as a cautionary tale for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar position.

Here's a timeline of what happened:
Back in the summer of 2007 I joined twitter, and @helenharrop was born.
My twitter account sat fairly dormant until later that year when I started meeting other people in the real world who used twitter.
Many moons later I decided to change my twitter name to @iamhelenharrop which seems a bit crazy because it's 3 characters longer but it matches my email address and I liked the quirkiness of it.
In December 2008 I made the fateful decision to set up a second twitter account, originally as a safe place to hide, which became @iamcreative and was where I posted about arty and creative things rather than more geeky stuff which was usually connected to my work life.

When I made the decision to drop one of the accounts I was faced with a conundrum ... my @iamhelenharrop account had a longer history and therefore would reflect my cool geek status as a fairly early adopter of twitter ... but I really liked the @iamcreative name and felt that it better expresses what I'm about ... so I came up with a cunning solution ... well it seemed cunning at the time, in retrospect it was ony ever going to cause high levels of confusion.

Here's what I did:
Step 1) I renamed my @iamcreative account to be @iamelsewhere
Step 2) I renamed my @iamhelenharrop account to be @iamcreative
Simples! ... except that the result was mild to extreme confusion for my followers (particularly those following my @iamcreative account originally).

I had thought that renaming the account I was dropping @iamelsewhere would flag to folks that I had moved to a different account but I don't think people have largely realised that's what it means (and I'm still getting new followers thanks to the new 'Who to Follow' feature on twitter). The confusion was greatly exacerbated by the fact that I was telling folks who followed me as @iamcreative to switch and follow me as @iamcreative ... a few people replied saying words to the effect of 'eh?! I'm already following you as @iamcreative' and then I had to try and explain in 140 characters what had happened.

Effectively what I've done is to move my arty twitter id over to my work account without a clear strategy for getting my arty followers to move with me ... fairly big fail there! I've been thinking a lot about how I can remedy the situation and have decided that:
a) I'm going to post a link to this blogpost a few times over the forthcoming days and weeks on my @iamelsewhere account

b) I'm going to change the @iamelsewhere account to 'protected' in a few weeks time so that new folks are put off following me

c) I'm going to go through the 300+ folks I was following on the original @iamcreative account (which is now @iamelsewhere ... keep up!) and follow them as @iamcreative (using the account that used to be @iamhelenharrop ... is this making any sense yet?!)

So there you go ... how to confuse several hundred people and lose 700+ followers in two easy steps ... next time I try anything like this I think I'll storyboard the process first!

In conclusion if you were following me as @iamcreative before July then you need to follow me again at :)