Dream Big, Do Big: an example of inspiration, imagination & perspiration

Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence. ~Norman Podhoretz

artists Nicole Bailey and Trisha Lee enjoy their interactive sculpture

artists Nicole Bailey and Trisha Lee enjoy their interactive installation

This week I have watched some friends bring a crazy-wonderful dream to life. I am so excited about it because their project was the perfect storm of imagination and perspiration, creativity and scientific thinking, dream and action, madness and wonder. For this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Cottesloe beach, they have brought together Aboriginal art, sand, sea and colourful PVC fit balls to create an artwork. As it says on the Water Dreaming webpage, “Water Dreaming is an Aboriginal dot painting installation in which the dots are represented by 250 inflated PVC balls embedded in beach sand. From terraces overhead the viewer will see a Dreamtime dot painting. Up close it’s an interactive play space where art and fun collide and visitors can bounce on and around the dots.”

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

filling balls with sea water and air; work in progress

filling balls with sea water and air; work in progress

The artists Trisha Lee and Nicole Bailey collaborated with Indigenous artist Shorty Jangala Robertson, of the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, to design the concept of bringing a Dreamtime story to life on the beach. The beach is an apt location for a depiction of an artwork from a tribe whose artists traditionally make art on sand and appreciate its transience and changeability. As an interactive artwork, it may well change during the exhibition, which runs from the 6th to the 23rd of March.

balls at sunrise, ready for installation

balls at sunrise, ready for installation

Not only do art and fun collide in this installation, but so do art and community. The installation is crowd funded, crowd created and will be crowd enjoyed. People will be told the artist’s Indigenous Dreamtime story and be able to play between, around and on the bouncy balls (which are filled with sea water and air).

To create this interactive sculpture, one lone water pump pumped 17,500 litres of water from the sea, across a sandy beach, up a hill to water tanks and all the way back down, to fill 246 big colourful fit balls. A digger dug a trench perimeter and helped to shift 30 cubic metres of sand, covering 290 square metres. Over two days, an army of one hundred volunteers filled and laid 250 sandbags and filled, rolled, hauled and placed balls. You can see it being installed in these time lapse videos of Day 1 and Day 2 of installation.

Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~Lewis Carroll

installation involved a digger and 100 volunteers

installation involved a digger and 100 volunteers

This was an example of risk taking in full flight and dreams come to life. What sort of inspiration and perspiration does it take to create a painting on a huge scale amid moving sand and with balls able to be bounced on and interacted with? What sort of people, what kind of force, can make that happen through the power of people, nature, art and technology? This project required not only blue-sky imagination, but also systematic experimentation, trial and planning in order to make it work.

The finished work - a dot painting on the beach, against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean

the finished work – a dot painting on the beach, against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean

This artwork stands as an inspiration to me as an individual, parent and educator. Shouldn’t we all aspire to making improbable dreams possible, to bringing vision to life, to dare to do something others might think crazy? Here’s to being creative, wildly imaginative, joyful and experimental, but also systematic, pragmatic, scientific and dogged enough to make moonshot ideas tangible reality.

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~Dr. Seuss

weeks of interactive bouncy fun!

weeks of interactive bouncy fun!

Moved by Giants: a moment of wonder

Giant marionettes captivate a city

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving

In education we often talk about innovation. How do we innovate as educators? How do we help students to be creators of boxless thinking and imaginative action? How do we preserve our childlike delight in the world?

This weekend French artist, director and dreamer Jean-Luc Courcoult, and his group Royal de Luxe, brought their Giants to Australia for the first time, as part of the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival. These giant marionettes acted out a story over two and a half days through the city streets. They were innovation incarnate, creativity in action, dreams come to life.

The city was captivated, with 1.4 million people – half the population – converging in the city centre to be a part of this experiential phenomenon.

My experience of the Giants was one which allowed me to be intensely in the moment, fully and bone-tinglingly present (beautifully aligned with one of my 3 words for 2015: ‘presence’).

My pictures only capture one moment of many, and one marionette of two. You can read and see some coverage here, read the official Festival material and see the Giants’ adventures in other cities. I was grateful for the social media assault which allowed me to follow the journeys of both Giants throughout their time in Perth.

The Giant Diver awakens

The Giant Diver awakens

The Diver is lifted up before he begins his walk through the city streets

These images don’t do justice to being there amidst what was an awe-inspiring and magical spectacle. The sonar beeps, didgeridoo and haunting music playing from the band float. The gasps and emotional astonishment of the crowd. The beyond-amazed believing-in-magic faces of children and adults.

As I watched the 11m diver awaken from the footpath outside the train station, rise into the sky and then start walking in front of me, I was moved. There was something about the music, the scale, the movement, the crowds and community atmosphere which left me shaking and in tears, even as I held my son to my hip so that he could see.

That evening, when I asked my four year old what his favourite part of the day was, he turned to me with a look of absolute joy and wonderment and said in a loud whisper, “The giant looked at me!’

It is a rare and special thing to be unexpectedly and powerfully moved. To experience innovation, risk taking and a crazy idea taken to its limits. To be part of a meta narrative and a community tidal wave. I highly recommend it.

boots made for walking

boots made for walking