Liminality

Recently I’ve been contemplating liminality in relation to the balance between my practice and my work as a creative lecturer. This is a theme that will be explored during an artists’ retreat that I will be attending in North Uist in September with 9 other artists. We are all invited to make art on this theme, using the tide as a metaphor.

My initial thoughts were of being dragged down to the depths of the sea, not just by the strong tidal current, but perhaps by some kind of menacing sea creature, which was strangling me with its tentacles and pulling me down. This is a metaphor in itself for the (sometimes) oppressive nature of the workplace, which can make you feel as if you are sinking, drowning, or even deliberately being kept under water. Often I feel as if my creativity is being strangled, that I’m not encouraged to realise my full potential, which can be very disheartening. But I’ll leave it at that for now…onwards and upwards.

For me, liminality is trying to balance on the edge of work and creativity, and also trying to stay afloat. In my profession as a creative lecturer, I feel it is essential that I keep up with my artistic practice in order to keep integrity and currency in my role. I aim to inspire and motive my students, so it is important to impart my knowledge and be able to share and discuss my own creative experiences with them. I too am a learner, and can learn much from them too.

Liminality is also the unknown, the uncertain…something that I always feel in my workplace. As if I’m hanging in the balance, with no guarantee of safety or security. Like a limpet on a rock, clinging on to the safety of its surface until the tide moves in and attempts to dislodge it.

Driftwood is another image that comes to mind. I hear the words from Driiftwood by Travis playing over in my head:

You’re driftwood floating underwater
Breaking into pieces pieces pieces
Just driftwood hollow and of no use
Waterfalls will find you bind you grind you

And you really didn’t think it would happen
But it really is the end of the line

So I’m sorry that you turned to driftwood
But you’ve been drifting for a long long time

Am I Driftwood? Floating aimlessly with no direction? Hopefully not!

It’s not all negative, however. Working with young (and old) creative students is vey inspiring and gives me such an enthusiasm and excitement when I see them realise their ideas. Each creative brief I set them has me thinking about how I would tackle it myself, and I find my mind racing with all sorts of possibilities. This definitely helps to keep my ideas fresh, and gives me great satisfaction when I see their results. So, (on the whole) my lecturing role inspires my practice, and my practice feeds into my teaching.

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