Creativity in the face of adversity

It’s truly fascinating how creativity can often thrive in difficult or uninspiring situations.

Some people may be finding the current lockdown and restrictions demotivating or stifling when it comes to creativity but we’re here to show you this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are many examples, past and present, of people getting involved in music, art, writing and other creative projects in spite of the adversity and barriers they face.  Now more than ever it’s important to stay positive, keep creating, find innovative ways to connect with others and share your creativity too!

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Take new bands and performers for example. They often have to build their profile with grassroots gigs and online content without the support from promoters, big record labels, radio stations or streaming services.

Emerging visual artists often have to use unconventional exhibition spaces and venture online to get their work seen by the public before the big art galleries and glossy art magazines become interested in them.

Even today, there are so many shining examples to show how creativity can triumph despite challenges we face.

In pop music, artists including Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are among 20 stars contributing from home to a new joint charity single with BBC Radio 1. The single which will support Children In Need, Comic Relief and international coronavirus charity work is a new version of the song ‘Times Like These’ originally performed by the Foo Fighters.

Other artists taking part include Anne-Marie, Jess Glynne, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Biffy Clyro, Royal Blood, 5 Seconds of Summer, Grace Carter, Dermot Kennedy, Mabel and Sigrid.

The performers, all in lockdown restrictions, are singing from their homes to Radio 1, which is combining all their contributions and releasing the single.

Meanwhile former Take That star Gary Barlow had been performing a series of daily videos from home called ‘Crooner Sessions’ to cheer people up amid the lockdown. He has been working remotely with other stars including Sir Cliff Richard, Lulu and Queen’s Brian May and a family of musicians, all working from their own homes.

In visual art, street artist Banksy has been confined to home amid the lockdown but has posted a series of photos on social media showing painted rats running riot across his bathroom. The rats can be seen scuttling over a mirror, having a wee on the toilet seat, making a mess with toothpaste and toiletries.

Meanwhile artist, writer and broadcaster Grayson Perry has been asking what creative thing people are making at home across the UK amid the lockdown? He is known for his humorous ceramic vases and tapestries about British life. His own Channel 4 TV programme, Grayson’s Art Club, has been delayed because of restrictions but speaking from his home he is encouraging people to ‘make something uplifting in response to the crisis’ and highlight how they are coping with these ‘weird’ times.

There are great examples of creativity in the face of adversity in the past too.

Motown Records, one of the most famous record labels in the world, was launched by Berry Gordy in a poor neighbourhood of Detroit in 1959. He was determined to build a successful black music business despite the odds.

The United States in the 1960s faced conflicting trends and developments. It offered opportunity for some – the ‘American dream’ – yet it also faced huge social challenges including racism, the rise of the black civil rights movement, the assassinations of the Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy and war in Vietnam. The early Motown office was located close to the centre of 1967 riots in Detroit and narrowly escaped serious damage.

Through hard work and determination, Motown engaged with all aspects of life at the time. Its music brought pleasure, hope and pride with acts including Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Four Tops, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson.

For a final example, look at Ian Dury. He was a British singer-songwriter and actor who became famous in the late 1970s punk and new wave scene with Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

As a young boy, he contracted polio which caused paralysis and damage of a leg, shoulder and arm. He spent long periods in hospital and was sent to a school for disabled children. At the school, he was expected to learn a trade rather than have any artistic or academic ambitions. Staying true to his passion, he later attended a leading art college and after graduating, achieved fame as singer and actor on TV and in theatre.

He had musical success with various album and singles, including Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, which reached number one in 1979. Another song was called Spasticus Autisticus. He wrote it in 1981 to protest at patronising attitudes to disabled people. The title was a pun from a film he had watched about the gladiator Spartacus.

The song was banned by the BBC at the time but it symbolises his spirit to overcome the adversity of his own physical disabilities and the bad attitudes of others. He wanted himself, and other disabled people, to realise their own ambitions rather than be restricted. More than 30 years later, the song was revived and officially used at the 2012 London Paralympics opening ceremony. A fitting tribute to Ian Dury.

Today, we all currently face other types of physical and mental wellbeing challenges with coronavirus restrictions, social distancing and self-isolation. But we know these restrictions are temporary and need not leave us totally alone or silenced at home.

Thankfully we are all more aware of physical and mental health issues now, and the benefits of exercise, diet, recreation, hobbies and creativity.


Have the unexpected restrictions lead you to try knew interests, hobbies and activities?


Perhaps now is an opportunity to try something new like music, singing, writing, drawing, painting or photography? Social media and other digital platforms can help us all overcome social distancing and share our creations at this time. You can share your creativity with us too and meet others who share your interests.






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