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TitleExpressive Lives
LanguageEnglish
File Size360.9 KB
Total Pages104
Document Text Contents
Page 1

From the exhibitions we visit, to the videos we watch and
make, to the clothes we wear; the choices we take about what
culture to consume and what we create help us connect with
others who share our opinions, ideas and beliefs. Through
culture we find our place in the world; we explore who we are
and who we want to be. This is our expressive life.

This collection of essays examines the idea of
‘expressive life’, as introduced by Bill Ivey. It helps us to
see creativity and heritage as the fabric of our society that
gives meaning and value to our lives. Contributors from
across the creative and cultural sectors look at the effects of
changes in our behaviour towards cultural institutions,
developments in technology and the global exchange of
different attitudes and beliefs. These combine with political
uncertainty and economic upheaval to put culture and
creativity at the heart of debate about the future of our
communities and international relations.

Cultural policy should enable citizens to take an active
role in shaping their world. To do this, policy-makers across
all areas of government must work with professionals and
institutions within the creative sectors to enable expressive
lives.

Samuel Jones leads on cultural work at Demos.

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“Culture roots us in
our past and enables us
to imagine and create
our future...”

EXPRESSIVE LIVES

Edited by Samuel Jones

ISBN 978-1-906693-19-0 £10
© Demos 2009 COLLECTION 27

Expressive Lives cover 6/26/09 4:57 PM Page 1

Page 2

This project was supported by

in association with

Contributors:

Peter Bradwell
Tony Hall
John Holden
Bill Ivey
David Lammy
Andrew Missingham
Roshi Naidoo
Sandy Nairne
Ed Vaizey
Lola Young

Expressive Lives cover 6/26/09 4:22 PM Page 2

Page 53

5 Expression and
engagement: a
creative life
Sandy Nairne

51

As to that leisure, as I should in no case do any harm to anyone with it, so I
should often do some direct good to the community with it, by practising arts
or occupations for my hands or brain which would give pleasure to many of
the citizens; in other words, a great deal of the best work done would be done
in leisure time of men relieved from any anxiety as to their livelihood, and
eager to exercise their special talent, as all men, nay, all animals are.

William Morris, ‘How we live and how we might live’, 1888

Morris saw work at the centre of his new vision for life and,
whether paid or unpaid, it would be (after the political and
economic revolution he sought) purposeful for all. When
questioned about the many people, women and men,
condemned to menial repetitive jobs, he proposed that all work
should be given some elaboration, with appropriate adornment
and decoration. The creative and the productive combined
together. Morris’s utopian vision included an expressive life as
part of everyone’s common rights, along with health, housing
and education. And Morris insisted that everyone had a special
talent of some kind – everyone could be creative.

Morris had little time for the ‘fine art’ end of the art
market, recognising that commercial pressures worked to limit
the distribution and enjoyment of art to the few rather than
encouraging participation by the many. Although Morris was
part of a revolution in ideas before state socialism emerged, his
inspiring role in the Arts and Crafts movement remains relevant
to how definitions of the cultural field can be expanded and
made more inclusive today.

After many years of repetitive debates in Britain around
access vs excellence in the arts, renewed thinking is certainly
needed, not least to dismantle the assumption that institutions

Page 103

This project was supported by

in association with

Contributors:

Peter Bradwell
Tony Hall
John Holden
Bill Ivey
David Lammy
Andrew Missingham
Roshi Naidoo
Sandy Nairne
Ed Vaizey
Lola Young

Expressive Lives cover 6/26/09 4:22 PM Page 2

Page 104

From the exhibitions we visit, to the videos we watch and
make, to the clothes we wear; the choices we take about what
culture to consume and what we create help us connect with
others who share our opinions, ideas and beliefs. Through
culture we find our place in the world; we explore who we are
and who we want to be. This is our expressive life.

This collection of essays examines the idea of
‘expressive life’, as introduced by Bill Ivey. It helps us to
see creativity and heritage as the fabric of our society that
gives meaning and value to our lives. Contributors from
across the creative and cultural sectors look at the effects of
changes in our behaviour towards cultural institutions,
developments in technology and the global exchange of
different attitudes and beliefs. These combine with political
uncertainty and economic upheaval to put culture and
creativity at the heart of debate about the future of our
communities and international relations.

Cultural policy should enable citizens to take an active
role in shaping their world. To do this, policy-makers across
all areas of government must work with professionals and
institutions within the creative sectors to enable expressive
lives.

Samuel Jones leads on cultural work at Demos.

E
xp

ressive L
ives

|
E

d
ited

b
y S

am
u

el Jon
es

|
C

O
L

L
E

C
T

IO
N

27

“Culture roots us in
our past and enables us
to imagine and create
our future...”

EXPRESSIVE LIVES

Edited by Samuel Jones

ISBN 978-1-906693-19-0 £10
© Demos 2009 COLLECTION 27

Expressive Lives cover 6/26/09 4:57 PM Page 1

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