Capturing (one) with Clive Gracey

Clive is an artist I know personally and has recently become an inspiration to me – not simply through his artwork but his encouragement.

He was the first person to tell me that creativity requires containment. Creative work requires containment before it is shared with others. And even then, he encouraged me not to worry too much about what other people may think about my work – or indeed who I am.

For the past few years, my creativity and my creative pursuits were put on hold whilst I tended to other demands in my life – the birth of my daughter and the start of a new career. It was naturally quite challenging time, particularly as I always previously had a creative outlet (even though I didn’t know that was what it was). And I remember Jordan Peterson once writing that when creative people don’t do creative things, they can self-destruct.

So Clive recommended me the Artist’s Way which I worked through morning after morning for three months (and more or less since). It helped with my own creativity but also helped me to become happier within myself – something else that he was also keen to see, and something that friends do.

He helped me to find the path back to creativity. In the first instance this was creating new regular rituals for creativity in the early morning and taking myself on ‘artist’s dates’ – often to the photography section of a local bookshop. Photography was something I did coincidentally but Clive changed that.

He gave me the odd challenge, here and there which I’ve taken him up on.

He listened to me in a completely non-judgemental way. It’s not easy giving advice but, in fact, it’s more difficult not to give advice and just listen. Or ask a question I’d never asked myself.

He asked a few questions to which I needed to think for weeks before I had an answer.

They were tough questions, too. Maybe no-one else had the balls to ask me (evidently, I didn’t).

He also said that perhaps I should consider working on a bigger project. I’ve been thinking about that for almost a year now.

He’s did give me one piece of advice. He told me to buy a better camera. I did (although it’s still only a middle of the range camera).

I wonder if, in the meantime, his photography has influenced me?

His photos ostensibly have, at first glance, no narrative but when we look deeper, somehow they contain a lot of depth – there is a story there but what is it? Something that wanted capturing, something that wanted to be explored. Why? Clive has the careful patience to build a relationship with a place over years or decades – getting to know it, waiting for a moment for the place to shine and bring out its meaning. This place – like a good story – can be enjoyed over and over again and is different every time. I have never taken this approach to photography but it’s something I’m inspired to try.