Ascalon, community art and acceptance
May 15, 2011, 5:14 am
Filed under: CCA1103

I always enjoy the opportunity to hear from guest lecturers and the creative process involved in their production of work relative to creative theory. Marcus Canning was the lecturer invited to lecture this week on the practical application of his artistic process in realizing a commissioned sculpture with fellow artist Christian de Vietri. The area of public and community based art and the inherent problems and solutions discovered was insightful in showing how creative theories related to community based creativity are practically applied.

The fundamental difference between personal creativity and community creative projects as I saw it, appeared to be the integration of people and government and organisations all needing to work towards a creative process which can satisfy limits set by the commission itself. Limitations such as public health and safety, time, budget constraints, issues of  artistic relevance,surrounding architectural, urban and natural environment, bureaucratic processes, personal and political motives, the undertaking of such an enterprise becomes a difficult exercise to control creatively. These highlighted issues don’t tend to arise in the personal creative process.

The way in which the commissioned work was realised and how the final piece entitled Ascalon evolved was an excellent example of what we as creative practitioners can expect to face if deciding to enter the domain of community based creativity. Here is a clip of the installation of the sculpture.

For more information on the commissioned piece view the following website:

The role and  importance of community based arts and culture in contemporary society was discussed in the tutorial. I have always considered the creative process important for individual growth. However the flow on effects to the community and its’ citizens in forging and promoting a healthy society  through creative study cases citied in the article, gave proven practical examples in dealing with economic and social renewal. A sense of pride, safety, heath and well-being of people in communal groupings regardless of size, place and diversity is imperative to a societies future health.

Reflecting on this I was reminded of a personal case were encouraging contact with diverse groups in the community through creative practice was created. I was teaching oil painting to a group of adult students in a community centre for seven years. In that time I discovered that a side effect to this teaching which I hadn’t counted on was the bringing together of people in the community.Due to diverse economical and social backgrounds the enrolled adults were not likely to encounter social interaction outside of the class. The students would tell me how they relished the weekly classes as a way of learning a new creative skill and the opportunity to engage with the diverse group. How diverse were they? I realised I had Academics, professionals from all parts of the economic spectrum, aged from 18 to 80, fellow artists, domestic mothers, even a nun. The issues discussed were broad, from art, religion, societal woes,etc. and although  not always in agreement, through dialogue and exchanging of ideology there was a great acceptance and tolerance in its diversity.

The passing on of my knowledge about painting was a great source of personal achievement. Bringing together of  a diverse group through communal creative practice, encouraging their personal growth through the visual arts, helping them to form strong social and communal bonds, is immeasurable to my own personal growth.

The creative process has led to interesting discoveries about myself and through the series of blogs in this creativity unit, the reflection and analysis of creative theories discussed, it has helped to give some concrete ideas to the ethereal and subjective analysis of why I create.

Referances :

Borrup, T. (2006). The creative community builder’s handbook: How to transform communities using local assets, art, and culture (pp. 3-30). Minnesota: Fieldstone Alliance.

Canning, M. (2011). Community- Based Creativity: Artrage. Lecture given at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley campus. May 13th 2011.

Sceneteamperth. (2010). Ascalon installation at St.Georges Cathedral Perth.. Retrieved May 15, 2011 from:


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