The Creative Journey

The Creative Journey

I set sail for Serendip, with my sights set on my desired creative life as my destination, without a clue which direction I should take. I’ve taken a leap of faith and trusted that, if I just keep moving forward, following my creative instincts and watching out for little synchronicities that indicate that I’m on the right path, I will get there in the end.

This is the latest chapter in my journey.

I’ve been quiet on social media and in my blog of late. My latest 100 day project hasn’t gone to plan, causing me much heart ache. However, my recent journey has also been full of coincidences so obvious that they have been as subtle as a sledgehammer!

When I embarked on my 100 day project I seriously underestimated the level of skill required to create even a simple crank-handled toy, so my progress was slow. I also didn’t bank on becoming ill. The combination brought my progress to a standstill.

Isn’t it fascinating how a life interruption of this sort makes you pause and reflect?

Understanding the huge creative investment required to devise and make the animated sculptures of my dreams, I began to question if I should continue. Was my quest to enter the world of mechanical toys a good idea? Perhaps I should I stick to making my textile sculptures instead?

With these questions in my head, I went away on a much needed break to Cornwall. On this particular trip, our regular destination of Falmouth was to take on a whole new meaning.

In conversation with our friend Lynn, the host of our B&B, I made a fascinating discovery. I found myself telling her about my creative endeavours and you can only imagine my surprise when she revealed that her neighbour is the daughter of Sue Jackson, the founder of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre* and that Falmouth Art Gallery is home to a significant collection of automaton!

Although I knew Cornwall was the UK’s main creative area for automata, I had no idea that Cabaret Mechanical Theatre had originally begun life in Falmouth. In all the years of visiting Falmouth, I’d never visited its Art Gallery, so I was unaware of its wonderful collection.

Armed with this new knowledge, my ever patient husband and I headed straight for the gallery only to find that the collection had been put into storage at the request of the current art exhibitions external curator. Initially I was more than a little frustrated and found myself explaining my upset to the staff.

Oh my goodness, they offered me a private viewing!

What’s more, they liked my first two automaton enough to say they might be interested in selling my future creations in their shop!

As you might expect, I came home elated and full of enthusiasm. Then  scared and sure my art isn’t yet good enough.

I’ve continued to be completely and utterly absorbed by my quest for knowledge and understanding of automata mechanisms. Creating these little machines is all I can think about. I’m learning so much and putting it into practice has become all-consuming.

Since our return from Cornwall, my wonderful husband Ian has become encouraging in a proactive way that he hasn’t before. As a specialist in metalwork, he can understand and relate to the materials I will need to use and the methodology involved. He has begun to supply me with tools, with materials and has even made me a special wire bending jig. I showed him a short video that enthralled me and the next day he proudly showed me the jig he had begun making for me, just like the one used in the video.

The biggest shock came the following Thursday evening though.

Ian presented me with three sheet metal cutters. I’d only read about these tools and their purpose that morning. So how could he have possibly known?

“They were your Dads”, he said.

As Ian set the trio of brand new tools down in front of me, he explained that Dad had bought them but had never used them. Knowing that Ian worked with metal Dad had passed them to him thinking he might find a use for them. They had sat unused in his toolbox ever since.

Now Ian was passing them on to me.

Any remaining doubts that I may have had about my creative direction melted away. The universe is telling me loud and clear that I’m on the right path. It seems that yet again, Dad is finding a way to encourage and support me from beyond the grave.

Now I’m sure you’ve probably realised by now that I won’t be achieving my 100 day project goal. I’m so sorry about that lovely follower.

But I’m not at all sorry that I began the project. Far from it. Life, it seems, has a way of making some things turn out as they should. What began as a 100 day project has turned into a deeply meaningful longer term creative adventure that I hope will keep me and you enraptured for many years to come.

I’ve fallen head over heels in love with automata. It may take me a while to get to grips with the new processes and methodology, but I’m on my way.

I’m heading to Serendip!

Until next time dear friend and follower, live life to the full and make sure your loved ones know how much they mean to you.

Mary-Ann x

*Cabaret Mechanical Theatre is an organisation that mounts exhibitions around the world of contemporary automata by a collective of artists. Founded by Sue Jackson, the group played a central role in the revival of automata from the 1970s onwards, and Jackson championed the idea of automata as a form of contemporary art.


  1. Oh wow! Talk about timing! All perfect. It may feel like two steps backwards, but you actually made three steps forward in the first place. Onwards and upwards and oh so exciting!

    • Yes it is a very exciting time. Thanks so much for understanding and your ongoing support Sue. Over the last couple of days I’ve finally got my creative mojo back. I can’t wait to share what I’ve been up to – just a couple of pieces of the jigsaw to put in place first….😄xx

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