In December 2017, our creative department got to visit Gibbs Farm. It is a sprawling Willy-Wonka type meadow filled with exotic animals and dotted with some of the most gigantic and beautiful sculptures the world has ever seen.
It was also full of hundreds of people in sensible shoes and fashion-free hats, staring. Just staring. They had driven 90 minutes to look at stuff. Why were they here? Why do people need creativity? What does it do?
The next day, I happened to watch a documentary on John Coltrane called Chasing Trane
. It is fantastic. I knew very little about him. What I enjoyed the most was that he wasn’t particularly brilliant when he was young but through dedication and using the pain in his life, he became a genius. I think becoming a genius is far more impressive than just being one. However, there was a small part of his story that really got me thinking.
When he was 12, Coltrane’s aunt, grandparents and father all died within a few months of each other. You can imagine the amount of pain he was enduring. A year or so after that, he started saxophone lessons. According to the documentary, he held onto playing music with his whole being. The art was his life raft. He held on and it saved him. So, perhaps for some, creativity is about holding onto something.
Back at the farm, I passed a small boy with his parents. While I was thinking about what it all meant, he answered the question for me. He was looking at the Richard Serra sculpture above. He raised his hands up and did a funny little dance. He let go in the way only kids can and shouted three words that answered my question:
It’s like magic.
Creativity can help you hold on like Coltrane in one of his darkest moments. But, at Gibbs Farm, creativity can also compel people to drive 90 minutes and just let go. Those people with water bottles and sensible shoes went somewhere else in their heads. They left their lives for a brief moment and were totally in the moment. There were less words and more thoughts. There was a sense of wonder.
It would seem creativity is something that can help you hold on. And, strangely also let go. Something that takes you out of your life but keeps you in the moment. Something that makes you feel things you didn’t know you could feel.
I would say that’s about as close as you get to magic.
And who doesn’t want magic?“Architecture is frozen music.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe