Zia, our newest member of the team reflects on her first month in post.
Green, gold, and glimmering. Sharply small in my periphery. Almost shy in its beauty. I backtrack through the buildings which align to form the heavy furrowed brow of the depressing and lifeless concrete jungle. I’ve never seen such… grey. I glance downwards. Hidden under a damp piece of hardwood, I see something with an iridescent life to it, like a delicate molten emerald leaking from this weighty world. Carefully, I pick it up.
I chuckle heartily to myself.
A bottle cap. That’s all it was. How wondrous to have found beauty in such an ordinary item.
Earlier this week, Anthony Briggs and I met with Ginny, who is pioneering a project called ‘Brain hacks’ (supported by us in Culture Co-op) in which she aids students in photographing small positive things within their lives, daily. This steered me into thinking about how I am trying to photograph the little things I find beautiful or happy in my life more, and how prevalent the susceptibility to feel life slipping into mundane routine and sparks of newness and creativity diminishing is to us. I feel like the romanticisation of our life and our surroundings, and the small things in life, though they may seem negligible in their power, are mentally transformative. It’s aid in regaining creative flow is also boundless.
If you are also a resident of Lancaster or the Lancaster District, you must have been at the Lancaster light show this previous weekend! Truly, we all witnessed how something as simple as light, which we flick on and off every day and utilise in abundance- whether natural or manmade, can be displayed in so many beautiful ways. The way in which we stood fixated on something we usually pay no second thought to, (especially residing in a country where we are blessed enough to have 24-hour access to light and electricity), is silently beautiful and almost meditative.
Furthermore, as part of Lancaster Youth Challenge, I helped in the digging and implementation of a fire-pit as part of a Community Impact Project at Fork to Fork. The young people of Lancaster Youth Challenge created mosaics upon previously prepared log stools, and we dug and prepared the fire pit to centre them. This is an aesthetically pleasing and practical addition to the beautiful woodland, transformative of the clearing and it will be used for many years. A footprint for generations to come.
Image from Lancaster Youth Challenge’s Facebook page
Catalysing young people in fuelling creativity through performance to eliminate the black soot of dread formed and sticking silently to us after lockdown. Throughout the previous weeks and until the show on the 3rd of December, I have been helping out with planning for the Chameleon show in Morecambe (tickets available here). This is a partnership project between More music, LYC, Prop Up Project, and CAHMS. The show encourages young people to promote and engage with positive mental health via creative outlets and performance and is taking place at More Music. This ethos has been evident as an integral part of the planning process, with activities such as emptying a ‘stress bucket’. It will continue to be throughout the performance.
Why not try deviating from the mundane routine of everyday life by capturing, or even just noticing, something small but beautiful today? I emphasise that this is not in a ‘toxic positive’ way, but rather in a way to highlight and engage with small parts of everyday beauty and create a kiss of stillness in midst of the pressures and difficulties of life. Even focusing on going on a walk and spotting things of a certain colour, for example, can be a breath of fresh air and helps centre and filter thought.
I look back up. Suddenly the brow has lifted, the architecture is bold albeit its pedantic nature, with bounds of floral and microscopic life growing in its cracks, and the greys seem warm and welcoming. Was there beauty here all along?
I put the cap in my pocket and jog back to my route; I will turn it into something later.
“The human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”