Birth / Early Childhood:
For many individuals there are important religious rituals that help shape this particular portion of our lives. These rituals provide a structured approach, and are viewed as a rite of passage into this world, as individuals within your ethnographic group have gone through the same events. For me and my family, these things were also important. Attending dedicated religious functions for example, were an important part of this stage. There was also a broader connection to the natural environment – in particular the ocean – that played in important role in my development.
My aunt was a teacher, reflecting on our interactions I can use this word with the connotations from the traditional educational system, but she also taught me important things for my own personal development. We often spent hours walking along the beach, and later returned to her house to doodle with the markers at hand.
This connection to the environment was an important feature of my development, far greater than the religious services that we occurring at this time. Participating in the creative arts with my aunt allowed for exploration of this natural world. She taught me about the creative arts and different mediums while we explored the world around us. Witnessing her own creativity which was past my own abilities further encouraged me to hone on my own abilities. Developing my own projects became a ritual that we did together every weekend, and were some of the earliest and most memorable memories that I have.
Often during these sessions, she would sing songs to me – “You are my sunshine” or “The bear went over the mountain” which were amongst my favorite. Hearing those songs today will flash me back to the moments spent with my aunt, with her voice ringing throughout the kitchen. This was such a powerful passive participation in the creative arts that resonates still to me.
At this stage our favorite pass time was doodling together, something that I resurrected for this project!
Childhood / Primary School:
As I got older, the hours spent along the beach were followed by hours of creativity. We would return to her house to create our own fantastical sea creatures out of materials at hand. Later I learned this form of artistic expression to be creating with “found objects”. We were limited only by our own imaginations. What made this time extra special was my own chair with a secret compartment to keep our ‘treasures’ safe. Years later we went through this together only to find a decade of unique crafts : )
This stage is marked by transitions, starting school, meeting new friends who can shape your development. It is very reminiscent of the ecological model of development as discussed by Bronfenbrenner (1994). Each sphere of contact helping to shape the individual that you become. For me however, my aunt remained the greatest sphere to shape my creative self. Witnessing the creative work on public display in museums and art galleries were also instrumental in shaping a broader concept of what art is.
Found objects used in the creative process to make fantastical sea-creatives!
A school of JELLY-FISH : )
Through both stages of development, the visual arts were my preferred artistic medium. They were an approach that I could use to express how I was feeling, and who I was. With my aunt as my guide, my creative expression increased and continued to grow at an exponential rate from birth to primary school. Although my rate of creative engagement changed over time, which will become apparent in subsequent time-lines, at these stages it was an important part of my day-to-day activities. The pieces created for this posting reminded me of my aunt, who now faces end stage dementia and is non-verbal. Although we can’t communicate anymore, we have so many shared memories that have enabled me to be the person I am today. Creating my jellyfish family immediately brought me back to her, as she was the biggest sphere that shaped me in my ecological development! (Bronfenbrenner, 1994).
Unlike some of the other developmental timeframes we will be discussing, my creative timeline isn't linear, but rather circular (as depicted above) with several key events / individuals providing the creative expression and development seen over these two time points.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. International Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford: Elsevier.