Creativity Unblocked: Jordan Cottle
Weston is full of young creatives doing some pretty amazing things. At Culture Weston, we feel it’s important to shine the light on the up-and-coming talent who are making a mark on the creative culture here. This week we chat with Jordan Cottle, a multi-disciplinary artist with some very exciting projects up his sleeve.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your practise.
I’m a few things really. Creative is a good term, that includes theatre-making, acting, writing, film scoring, song writing… It’s hard to keep track of it all!
What inspired you to work in your field, and the main things you draw inspiration from?
I’ve been a creative my whole life! But in 2015 I saw an amazing show by the theatre company Fine Chisel called Neither There Nor Here, performed in the Tropicana with three guys and some instruments, which really made an impression on me. I take a lot of inspiration from music; it always seems to be the precursor to story for me. I often think of a tune before I think of what the moment its underscoring could be.
Do you pursue any particular themes in your work?
I’m still near the beginning of my journey as an artist and discovering what captivates me and interests me. My theatre projects seem to explore our funny thought processes, how we convince ourselves of memories that didn’t happen, of identities we’ve manufactured, and a thousand other things. The beauty of creating is letting yourself get deep in an ocean of ideas, and seeing what you wade out with. In terms of my narrative-driven writing, I find that the journeys I want to take my characters on are often journeys I need to take myself on in my own life. I’m teaching myself lessons by putting my characters through it. If other people can get something out of that then hey, awesome!
How have you kept yourself inspired during the lockdowns? Have you found any challenges?
My creative motivation took a big hit over the lockdowns, as I’m sure many people’s did. I’d secured a dream theatre job, but it got delayed until further notice which was gutting. For a few years I’ve been chipping away at producing my own series of radio plays called Time Gate, based on the BBC’s Doctor Who, by collaborating with other young actors and creatives living in Weston. The lockdowns were a perfect chance for me to hone some of the scripts, edit what we’d already recorded, and plan for the future. Escaping to that world with those characters has been a massive comfort to me, and that extra time to focus on the project has definitely paid off.
When you hit a creative block, how do you push through?
If I’m stuck, it’s usually because ideas are going round and round in my head. If I start speaking them aloud, they become much more linear and sensical. I also hum when writing a script or a story – if I can imagine the music that underscores a moment, it often helps me realise the tone and the direction it needs to take. Other than that, me and my partner will take a walk in one of Weston’s pretty spots (of which there are many), and we talk ideas out to the max. She’s a very clever lady so if I’m at a dead end, she often knows which direction I should step in next.
What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve ever been given?
A quote I found whilst writing an essay at university, “Art is an answer to, rather than a reflection of, reality”. I don’t know if it counts so much as advice, but it definitely informs how I think about the stuff I’m making.
Do you have any tips, advice, or words of wisdom for people starting out in the industry?
Show your workings! Whatever stage an idea or project is at, get it seen by someone. Get some honest feedback, and get back at it. Other people have ideas of how to improve or alter it, but they can also see things in your work that you hadn’t considered before. Don’t be precious about what you make. If it evolves into something you didn’t set out to make in the beginning- that’s ok. See where it takes you. That’s the fun bit!
What do you want to see for Weston’s creative scene in the next 5 years?
I want to see the creative scene continue on the path it’s recently started down. It feels like things are really starting to bubble up in Weston now with the opening of the brilliant Artspace, the visit from arts organisation Terrestrial, the wonderful efforts Theatre Orchard and Culture Weston are making to get local theatre-makers and creatives seen. It really feels like a proper base is being made for the Arts here. It would be amazing if, in 5 years, Weston has established itself in the South-West as a hub of creativity. Maybe not just the South-West, or the UK. But the world! Now maybe that’s a bit too creative…
Are you an artist in Weston?
That includes filmmaking, dance, theatre, music, all things creative. Because I’d love to hear from you, and how you’ve been keeping the creative juices flowing during lockdown. Just tell me a little bit about yourself, and send any links to your work if you have them. Reach me at Jasmine@cultureweston.org.uk
You can also share what creative endeavours you’ve been up to on social media, using the hashtag #CreativityUnblocked
You can read more from the Creativity Unblocked series here.