Children naturally exhibit creativity in play. When they are in a safe environment, they do not appear to have the inhibitions that adults do and just go for it. In Tim Brown”s TED talk, he uses the example of people being asked to draw the person sitting next to them in 30 seconds. When adults do this, they are embarrassed and there are comments such as “I’m sorry” from many of the participants. When young children are asked to do similar, they proudly show off their ‘masterpieces’. They simply do not care what other people think.
By encouraging environments of play, people are far more likely to take risks and not care so much what people think. There is an element of freeing the mind to wander, to doodle and to dare. In my own practice, I was visiting a friend in hospital and had some wire in my bag. I was just fiddling with it and doodled a character from the wire. She became known as Dot and sparked a whole project of figures that I made for friends and acquaintances. This led to creating larger sculptures of groups of characters in settings.
In ‘Surely your joking Mr Feynman’, Richard Feynman, the famous physicist, describes how he found himself in a new job: top professor at Caltech. He was feeling quite depressed and not worthy of such a post. He didn’t really have any new ideas and didn’t know what to do. He decided to then just play, have fun with physics, as he used to do as a boy. In the canteen one day, he noticed some students spinning plates. On the bottom of the plates he noticed a stamp or mark and this stamp wobbled as the plates span. Feynman thought to himself what fun it might be to calculate the equation that governed this motion, which eventually he proceeded to work out. The funny thing was that a few year on, these calculations developed into the maths that earned him the Noble prize for the behaviours of electrons in the atom.
One of the things I loved to do as a kid was to dress up and pretend to be be different people and perform. Just recently, I had my hair cut, and I thought, I’m going to develop and alter-ego and have fun ‘playing’ someone else, see where it takes me etc. So far she is called ‘Eva Artemis Noren’, is a spy and I’m having fun researching her wardrobe.
I suppose the point here is that creating an environment in which to play, doing things you enjoy, messing around, can lead to nothing, but it could also develop into something you would never dream of under usual situations. The only way to find out is to get playing!