This month we’ve the pleasure to introduce Christina Sanders who is currently working with us on our Creative Resilience training programme for Artists, Small Business & Social Entrepreneurs. We hope that you find her interview inspirational.
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic medium
My writing practice includes short stories, sudden, flash fiction, journalism, spoken word, and more recently, creative non-fiction. My work has appeared in a variety of anthologies: Fish, Bare Fiction, The Bath Short Story Anthology, Words with Jam, Litro, Rattle Tales, Best Small Fictions, Toasted Cheese. In 2017, I won the Aesthetica Creative writing award.
Increasingly, I’ve become interested in working across boundaries, exploring different genres, collaborating with artists, natural scientists and academics to extend and develop my practice, both in terms of my approach to place, and the way I choose to write about it. I’m fascinated by the relationship between personal and collective identities, and the often contradictory themes provoked by place – home and away, absence and presence, familiar and strange, lost and found, to name a few.
What project are you currently working on with Creativity Works?
I ran a creative Walkshop in Bath earlier this year. The Walkshops grew out of an ACE funded project, called Write the Map. The project drew on psyschogeography and surrealism to explore ways of walking to ‘awaken’ the senses; to see familiar places with new eyes; focussing on our conscious and subconscious reactions to place, and using this as a starting place to write/draw/dance etc.I have also been working with three other artists on the Creative Resilience programme, exploring ways evidence based approaches can develop resilience, tapping into and strengthening our innate creativity. Apart from being a brilliant programme, it’s helped me personally. Being a writer, rejection’s always hovering in the wings!
I tend to be inspired by people who take risks, push boundaries and make me see things differently. I’ve drawn on visual artists like William Kentridge and Anselm Keiffer. I love the way Alexander McQueen took themes and pushed them to extremes while maintaining a playful spirit. Among writers, I love the work of Deborah Levy, T S Eliot, Rebecca Solnit and Maggie Nelson who use language inventively and write in and outside of genres. I live in Frome, and admire the work of Crysse Morrison, a poet and writer whose practice is interwoven with her community involvement in way that connects and supports the local arts scene.
I’ve been involved with a group of walking artists who’ve recently put on an exhibition in Stroud called Confluence, their work reflects explores themes of revelation and re-enchantment in landscape. The breadth of work has been mind boggling – no two artists approach walking in the same way. I’ve learnt so much! I’m currently reading The Enigma of Arrival by V. S Naipul, a slow contemplation of life on Salisbury Plain. I’m also struck by the number of fantastic young Irish writers working at the moment.
Winning Aesthetica short story prize – and working with an agent to develop a novel. Receiving ACE funding for project. Focusing on one project – as opposed to working across many projects – really enabled me to move my work forward.
I’d be very interested in walking with other walking artists locally in BANES and Somerset on a regular basis. I have a number of new walking collaborations this year, including retracing the steps of the poet Edward Thomas, Co-hosting a Walking & Weaving Walkshop as part of Frome Festival, and getting involved with the Bristol Literature Festival. Then, of course, there’s the novel to finish and get out there.
It’s paradoxical – keep your focus and stay open minded. Without a goal, it’s easy to drift. However, one of the most enriching and uplifting things about socially engaged practice, is learning from other people, and the odd directions this can take you. It’s often a master class in paying attention and from this, things grow. Don’t wait for the big things to happen. Do small things everyday. One step at a time.