Monday, March 25, 2019

Crossing boundaries – the unlimited landscape of creativity

When I was visiting Paris last year, there was one thing I wanted to do before I returned home – visit the renowned French bakery that had trained a Melbourne woman who had abandoned the high stakes of Formula One racing to become a top croissant maker. She had decided that being an engineer in the world of elite car racing was not for her, but rather that her future lay in the malleable universe of pastry. Crossing boundaries of many kinds and traversing the borders of differing countries and cultures, she built a radically different future to the one she first envisaged.

To appreciate how creativity manifests itself and what drives artists to create, we don’t need to look only in the immediate world of arts, culture and creativity. Examples of this crop up in the most unexpected of places.

Bakery Du Pain et des Idees, Paris

What strikes me about arts, culture and creativity is that at heart it involves crossing boundaries and frontiers – of accepted forms of expression, of widely shared tastes, of expectations, and also of countries. It also requires studying for years to gain skills or qualifications or both so it’s possible to make a career and a living from the training and experience.

‘Abandoning the Formula One racing world, she persuaded the owner to take her on as an apprentice, which he did, recognising the same passion in her as the one that drove him.’ 

When I was visiting Paris last year, there was one thing I really wanted to do before coming home. I had read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food about how Melbourne woman, Kate Reid, had abandoned plans to be a Formula One racing engineer to become an ace croissant maker, after discovering there was more in life to excite her.

Ace croissant maker, Kate Reid.

She had discovered a bakery in the Northern Marais district in Paris, Du Pain et des Idées, that made the best croissants she had ever encountered. She persuaded the owner, Christophe Vasseur, to take her on as an apprentice, which he did, recognising the same passion in her as the one that drove him. She then returned to set up Lune bakery in Fitzroy in Melbourne, which has since gone crazy.


Lune Bakery in operation

An Australian in Paris
In Paris, my fellow traveller and I took the Metro to the bakery for breakfast, where we discovered we were sharing a table with two groups of Australians – and a couple of Alaskans. I assumed there were so many Australians there because of the connection with Lune. However, while the Australians were all very familiar with Lune and its croissants, none of them knew about the French connection – that the expertise now on display in Melbourne had originated in the very bakery where they were sitting.

‘I assumed there were so many Australians there because of the connection with Lune, but while the Australians were all very familiar with Lune and its croissants, none of them knew about the French connection.’

I personally had never been to Lune, but I had been extremely impressed by the inspiring article about following a dream, so I proceeded to tell everyone at the table about it. Needless to say they were all fascinated to hear about the Australian link to the excellent pastries they were so obviously enjoying.

Pastry counter, Bakery Du Pain et des Idees, Paris.

When I got back to Australia, I emailed Kate Reid to tell her, because no-one ever hears these sort of weird stories about themselves and what they’ve done. She was charmed by the story and said to come and visit Lune if we ever found ourselves in Melbourne – so passing through Melbourne last month, we did.

I thought my story was good but in Melbourne I heard an even better one. Kate told me that on one visit to Paris after setting up her bakery, she had returned to Du Pain et des Idées for a visit. While sitting outside, she struck up conversation with  two other Australian who happened to be there as well. They mentioned Lune and the fact that its founder had trained at Du Pain et des Idées but added that the croissants at Lune were far better than those from the bakery outside which they were sitting. One of those in that conversation in Paris was shocked months later to walk into Lune and see Kate – commenting that she didn’t realise Kate worked there. 


Lune Bakery, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Proof of the pudding
Of course, the test of any creation is how good it is. I personally don’t like croissants all that much, though I do like a good story – but my fellow traveller definitely knows a good croissant when she meets one. According to her, they are right up amongst the best.

Here's to more crossing of boundaries and doing things (almost) completely differently.

See also

‘indefinite article’ on Facebook – short arts updates and commentary
‘Short arts updates and irreverent cultural commentary about contemporary Australian society, popular culture, the creative economy and the digital and online world – life in the trenches and on the beaches of the information age’, 'indefinite article' on Facebook

The future of arts practice – navigating the creative economy
‘In a rapidly changing and difficult environment, it often seems a miracle that artists can continue to practice at all – and even sometimes make a living from their art. Increasingly we need to try to answer some important questions, including: ‘What does a sustainable arts practice mean and what does it look like’, and ‘how does the business of art affect the practice of art?’ These question about the role of artists in the cultural sector, let alone in the broader society and economy, are important because they are linked to a range of crucial issues for the future of our society’, The future of arts practice – navigating the creative economy.

What is art good for? Understanding the value of our arts and culture
‘With arts and cultural support increasingly under pressure, arts and cultural organisations and artists are trying to find ways in their own localities to respond and to help build a popular understanding of the broader social and economic benefits of arts and culture. Much work has been done in Australia and internationally to understand, assess and communicate the broad value of arts and culture. The challenge is to share and to apply what already exists – and to take it further’, What is art good for? Understanding the value of our arts and culture.

See also – indefinite articles in a definite world
‘If you are losing track of the articles I have published to my 'indefinite article' blog over the last few years, this is a summary of all 133 articles up until mid July 2017, broken down into categories for easy access. They range from the national cultural landscape to popular culture, from artists and arts organisations to cultural institutions, cultural policy and arts funding, creative industries, First Nations culture, cultural diversity, cities and regions, Australia society, government, Canberra and international issues – the whole range of contemporary Australian arts and culture’, See also – indefinite articles in a definite world.

Creating the future for Australia's arts and culture
‘Australia’s arts and culture is at a critical stage. One of the issues confronting it is lack of any kind of shared sense of what the role of government is in encouraging our arts and culture. The whole set of interlinked problems with the relationship between government and Australia’s arts and culture can be reduced to a lack of strategic vision and a long-term plan for the future. This deficiency is most apparent in the lack of any guiding policy, like trying to navigate a dark and dangerous tunnel without a torch or flying at night without lights or a map’, Creating the future for Australia's arts and culture.

If the arts are important but not enough people know it, are they really important?
‘As the new landscape of Australia’s arts and culture emerge in the post-Brandis era, we are starting to see how organisations are adapting and the issues they are facing in doing so. To a lesser degree we are also seeing how artists themselves are responding. It seems clear that the absence of any overall strategic approach to arts and culture – whether from the Government or from the arts and culture sector – is having a deadening effect’, If the arts are important but not enough people know it, are they really important?

The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future
‘The never-ending election campaign that became the never-ending election tally has turned into the unpredictable second term government. What does this new world of fragmented politics mean for Australian arts and culture and the organisations, artists and communities which live it and advance it? There are a series of major factors which are hammering arts and culture organisations. These intersect and mutually reinforce one another to produce a cumulative and compounding long term disastrous impact. All this is happening in a context where there is no strategic policy or overview to guide Government. It is critical for the future that the arts and culture sector think broadly about arts and culture, build broad alliances and partnerships, never forget its underlying values and draw on its inherent creativity to help create a society based firmly on arts and culture’, The big picture and long view – creating a cultural future.

Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda
‘There’s an election in the air and I was thinking about what would be a good list of positive improvements that would benefit Australia’s arts and culture, so I jotted down some ideas. They are about recognising arts and culture as a central part of everyday life and an essential component of the big agenda for Australia. They are about where the knowledge economy, creative industries and arts and culture fit, how arts and culture explain what it means to be Australian and how they are a valuable means of addressing pressing social challenges’, Arts and culture part of everyday life and on the main agenda.

Dear Treasurer – our arts are central to everyday life, why doesn’t funding reflect it?
‘In response to steadily diminishing support for arts and culture by government, it's crucial to recognise that Australia's arts are central to everyday life and should be firmly on the main national agenda. Apart from their value in maintaining a thriving Australian culture, the range of social and economic benefits they deliver and their role in telling Australia's story to ourselves and the world make them an essential service’, Dear Treasurer – our arts are central to everyday life, why doesn’t funding reflect it?

Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans
‘In many ways design is a central part of the vocabulary of our time and integrally related to so many powerful social and economic forces – creative industries, popular culture, the digital transformation of society. Design is often misunderstood or overlooked and it's universal vocabulary and pervasive nature is not widely understood, especially by government. In a rapidly changing world, there is a constant tussle between the local and the national (not to mention the international). This all comes together in the vision for the future that is Design Canberra, a celebration of all things design, with preparations well underway for a month long festival this year. The ultimate vision of Craft ACT for Canberra is to add another major annual event to Floriade, Enlighten and the Multicultural Festival, filling a gap between them and complementing them all’, Designs on the future – how Australia’s designed city has global plans.

Creativity at work – economic engine for our cities
‘It is becoming abundantly clear that in our contemporary world two critical things will help shape the way we make a living – and our economy overall. The first is the central role of cities in generating wealth. The second is the knowledge economy of the future and, more particularly, the creative industries that sit at its heart. In Sydney, Australia’s largest city, both of these come together in a scattering of evolving creative clusters – concentrations of creative individuals and small businesses, clumped together in geographic proximity. This development is part of a national and world-wide trend which has profound implications’, Creativity at work – economic engine for our cities.

The immense potential of creative industries for regional revival
‘Across Australia, local communities facing major economic and social challenges have become interested in the joint potential of regional arts and local creative industries to contribute to or often lead regional revival. This has paralleled the increasing importance of our major cities as economic hubs and centres of innovation’, The immense potential of creative industries for regional revival.

The clever business of creativity: the experience of supporting Australia's industries of the future
‘The swan song of the Creative Industries Innovation Centre, ‘Creative Business in Australia’, outlines the experience of five years supporting Australia’s creative industries. Case studies and wide-ranging analysis explain the critical importance of these industries to Australia’s future. The knowledge economy of the future, with its core of creative industries and its links to our cultural landscape, is both clever and clean. Where the creative industries differ completely from other knowledge economy sectors is that, because they are based on content, they draw on, intersect with and contribute to Australia’s national and local culture’, The clever business of creativity: the experience of supporting Australia's industries of the future.

Creative industries critical to vitality of Australian culture
‘The developing creative industries are a critical part of Australia’s future – clean, innovative, at their core based on small business and closely linked to the profile of Australia as a clever country, both domestically and internationally.’ Creative industries critical to vitality of Australian culture.

Applied creativity
‘I have been dealing with the issue of creativity for as long as I can remember. Recently, I have had to deal with a new concept—innovation. All too often, creativity is confused with innovation. A number of writers about innovation have made the point that innovation and creativity are different. In their view, innovation involves taking a creative idea and commercialising it. If we look more broadly, we see that innovation may not necessarily involve only commercialising ideas. Instead the core feature is application—innovation is applied creativity. Even ideas that may seem very radical can slip into the wider culture in unexpected ways’, Applied creativity.

Creative industries – applied arts and sciences
‘The nineteenth century fascination with applied arts and sciences — the economic application of nature, arts and sciences — and the intersection of these diverse areas and their role in technological innovation are as relevant today for our creative industries. From the Garden Palace, home of Australia’s first international exhibition in 1879, to the Economic Gardens in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens these collections and exhibitions lay the basis for modern Australian industry. The vast Garden Palace building in the Sydney Botanic Gardens was the Australian version of the great Victorian-era industrial expositions, where, in huge palaces of glass, steel and timber, industry, invention, science, the arts and nature all intersected and overlapped. Despite burning to the ground, it went on to become the inspiration for what eventually became the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences — the Powerhouse Museum’, Creative Industries.


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