Creativity Unblocked: Megan Clark-Bagnall
You may already know the name Megan Clark-Bagnall, probably from some of her incredible projects and community work in Weston. Megan was behind the Memory Bank project, which invited groups in Weston to share their memories of the town and high street, and re-imagine its future through art and craft-making. Jasmine caught up with Megan for a chat about creativity, her inspirations, and her hopes for Weston.
Hi Megan! Tell me a bit about who you are, and your creative practise.
So I’m a visual artist and social maker. I make large scale silly projects with people. It’s about having fun in the moment and bringing people together. I want to validate silliness and play within peoples lives because once you leave it behind, you leave a bit of yourself. As artists, we get to carry on playing- and that’s the thing I like to share with others. So through my work, I remind people that they have this element of play still inside them.
I always knew I wanted to work with people. I’ve been making work for 15 years but got my first big commission in 2012 called Pool in The Pool. I was working as artist in residence with some teenagers at Crewe Swimming Pool, and we realised through the workshops and craft sessions I led that they LOVED playing pool in the evenings, and swimming on Saturday mornings. So, our final piece together was the two mayors of Crewe playing pool, with me directing the teenagers (wearing pool ball helmets that I made) to act out the game of table top pool, shot by shot, inside Crewe Swimming Pool. And that was my first pivotal project! That made me understand what I wanted to do and lead the way. The process of crafting together and having conversations can lead onto a bigger thing. Something you could never imagine from the offset. The power of art, is that it can show you things you never knew could exist. You find these things through PLAY.
Have you managed to stay creative during lockdown?
During the first lockdown I did the Holidaying At Home project in collaboration with Ramona Bigwood. I asked myself “What do I need right now?” A holiday- desperately! So it was literally about creating a holiday in your own home, and I worked with people from the local community. It was a framework that whatever holiday they were into, was the holiday they could craft. The Zoom meetings were like consultations with me as a holiday maker. They’d be sent packages, and they’d be showing me what they’d made. We all took tours on Zoom of people’s holidays, and it was amazing!
How do you combat creative block?
I have a blue sky painting station in my studio window. Every morning if there isn’t a blue sky outside, I paint one, and put it in the little frame. It’s all about blue sky thinking. The last one was 19th January. I have a little stash of these that just build up. And when I send stuff out to people, I often put one in for them.
I also try and do something from another human to get myself thinking differently. Do you know the book Grapefruit by Yoko Ono? It’s hilarious. You can open any page, and there’s little prompts she’s written and you can just do one. I’ve opened it now and the page just reads: “Imagine your head filled with pencil leads. Imagine one of them broken. Show a pencil lead to your friend and tell them it came out of your head”. You can just do silly things!
What is the best creative advice you’ve ever received?
Space time, and mindset. It’s been a realisation, rather than something someone’s said. I always presumed it was just space and time that can make creativity happen. But through delivering work with community groups it’s so much more about mindset. You can have space and time, but if you don’t have the mindset you can’t make. And it goes back to taking a break or doing things that constantly give you a fresh perspective. Space and time is obvious, but mindset is learned.
Do you have any tips for emerging artists?
Follow your curiosity and be true to yourself. Don’t try and be what you’re not because if it works for you, it’ll work for other people. Just give it a go. Always ask yourself ‘what is the essence of a project? if I could bottle it up what would it be?’ And start with that. Just do something you’re proud of.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Weston?
I’d like to see the community of artists having more self belief. There’s so many natural creatives here who are establishing themselves as artists. Id like to see the Weston community grow, and fully realise their creative worth and value. I’d be excited to see what it’s like in 10 years. There’s a huge uprising. Also seaside towns are so cool, I have so many friends moving out here! One of the biggest things people in Weston seem to say, whenever they go to a show or arts event, is often “I can’t believe this is happening in Weston”. And I think the real turning point will be when that phrase is never said anymore. That’s what I can’t wait for.
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.