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I am a huge fan of Salvador Dali. Some of my favourite travel memories are visiting both the Salvador Dali Museum in Figures and then his house in Cadaquez. His taste for mixing absurd abstraction with haunting realism is amazing. One of my favourite quotes of his is “each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dali”. Creatively, he was open to anything. When I saw this article by the company Gijima, I couldn’t help but be interested. There is so much that the arts can offer the corporate world in both thinking and acting creatively. This is why our corporate team building programs enbrace the arts. The article states “the innovative thought process draws many comparisons in surrealism. Both challenge the norm, take an alternative view and use the element of surprise and unexpected contrasts to the point of being absurd, dissociative, confusing and unpredictable and in so doing come up with previously neglected associations.” At the very least, the moment you engage with anything that challenges/changes/ignites/smashes your usual thought process, creativity and freshness starts to happen. It doesn’t have to be art: You can walk, read a magazine, go to a cafe –...

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Innovation and Contemporary Art: not that dissimilar There is a new contemporary art space that has just opened at the Art Gallery of NSW and has been put together by the donation of Friends of mine have visited and have come back with a few questions along the lines of “How do we understand contemporary art?” followed by “because I didn’t understand anything!” A great explanation of contemporary art is on the AGNSW website: Simply put, contemporary art is the art of our time. However, it can be difficult to define specifically as what it means to be ‘contemporary’ changes with each day – what is modern to us will be history to future generations.Contemporary art is a label, not a single movement. It can be seen as a myriad of new approaches to art that have developed since the 1960s. Contemporary artists take art beyond the traditional forms of drawing, painting and sculpture and embrace new mediums and technologies. My questions to my friends were: Did the show make you feel anything? Did it make you think differently? Did you get out of your comfort zone? Were you challenged at all? Did you do something you don’t normally do? The answer to all of the questions was yes so even if you didn’t understand anything,  the experience is a success. Regardless of what they were immediately able to comprehend, there were plenty of positive benefits. The big challenge companies face with innovation and the creativity that drives it is the ability to do something different to make it happen.  To be challenged, be out of your comfort zone, to think differently and do something that they wouldn’t normally do. Doing the same thing you have always done is easy but it rarely delivers results. Does that mean that companies have to visit art galleries to drive innovation? It certainly would be a great thing to do but the key is to do anything that will challenge,  get people out of their comfort zone and stir emotions. Innovation, like the new exhibition at the AGNSW is contemporary. Having the same meetings in the same boardroom just wont work.  Its about embracing new media and technologies. Its about embracing a myriad of new approaches. It is taking things beyond the traditional approach. Innovation is alive. And my best advice to look at contemporary art? (and you don’t want to read anything about it)  Look at it, if you like it – great! If you don’t like it – great as well!  Turn off the bossy LHS of your brain that needs to make immediate sense of everything and just enjoy...

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I bang on a lot of how  the simple fact of opening your eyes (really opening your eyes and looking) is one of the easiest ways to give your idea bank/creativity/innovation pipeline a boost. I use this example a lot on creative programs I deliver. The question I ask is, who has the best time on an overseas trip? Do you want to be a traveller with your eyes wide shut (Well, this is a lot dirtier to home, I don’t understand what people are saying and where the hell is a supermarket?) or a traveller with their eyes wide open? (This place is so different to anything I have ever seen, I am going to embrace it and enjoy everything new that I see). The response is always the traveller with eyes wide open has the best time. Having your eyes open and really taking in what you see (recognising it, pondering on it, exploring it) is like putting a stick of creative dynamite in the brain. The more you look then the more you see. The more you see the more ideas you trigger. Pretty simple but too often overlooked. An article I read of eyes wide open coming to life was titled ‘Gallery puts sleuthing in the frame’ in the Sydney Morning Herald last year. CIA and FBI agents have been sent on a course at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to ”refresh their sense of inquiry” by analysing paintings. The course leader, Amy Herman, said: ”We’re getting them off the streets and out of the precincts, and it refreshes their sense of inquiry.‘They’re thinking, ‘Oh, how am I doing my job?’ And it forces them to think about how they communicate, and how they see the world around them.”Ms Herman, an art historian, developed the course for medical students, but successfully pitched it as a training course to the New York police academy. Inspector Kenneth Mekeel, of the New York Police Department, said the course helped officers with their usual line of work.”We always teach them: step back, look at what you have, the crime scene, make observations,” he said. ”There’s more to a picture than meets the eye.’‘Bill Reiner, an FBI special agent, said Ms Herman’s classes had helped one of his officers crack a fraud scheme worth up to $US100 million. ”Amy taught us that to be successful, you have to think outside the box,” Mr Reiner said. ”Don’t just look at a picture and see a picture. See what’s happening.” When I lectured at the National Gallery of England on the paintings (one of the reasons I loved this story), I went...

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Isnt that art stuff all a bit WEIRD? I listened to an interview on the Qantas in flight business channel 4 different times last week but each time I never heard the beginning of the conversation. As such, I cant tell you the name of the person who was speaking or her position. From what I gathered she was the new head of the Australia Council for the arts. It was one of the more slightly prickly interviews you will hear on that channel and the interviewing was almost poking fun at the role of the arts and the support from the corporate sector etc. The lady responded that there was so much that the arts could contribute to the corporate world. I always beat this drum and use arts based practices in Visualfunk and the way we work with our clients. My thinking has always been from more how artists push boundaries, use  and constantly develop their creativity and explore ideas to achieve results. (The non-text book stuff) One of her examples was something that I never had thought of. To loosely paraphrase, it went something like this… “I used to work in product development and I cannot tell you the amount of times that we over ran budget, delayed the product launch repeatedly or released a product that wasn’t ready. So much money was wasted and the whole process was always beset by problems. In theatre, they release a product each and every night, on time and without hitches. Failure on not meeting this deadline just wouldn’t be thought of.” It’s a great point. These wonderful teams of people produce something amazing and go LIVE with a successful product launch each night. What could the corporate world learn from this?The corporate world provides so much support for the arts. The arts has so much to give back as well.  When I worked in the arts, all that was given back seemed to be drinks nights in front of the art rather than sharing possible best practices.  Lets hope both sides are open to whats possible with this collaboration. It’s an amazing world with answers everywhere as long as you look for them. Hope that doesn’t  sound to...

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Before Xmas, I spent 3.5 days in Canberra with for a clients off-site that Visualfunk was running.  I took away a few interesting things that relate to creativity from this trip. The benefit of a quiet time: I am a massive fan of surrounding yourself and engaging with all types of mental stimulus. If you want to be more creative, take in as many new experiences and mental stimulus as you can. You cant expect great results if you sit and stare at the same wall each and every day. If don’t do anything different, you wont get the great ideas/results. I drove to Canberra for this program and the drive  from Sydney is about 3.5 hrs. What was great about this drive? Apart from some nice scenery, the great thing about the drive was that there was no stimulus at all! (apart from some tunes). With hardly any traffic, it was 3.5 hrs of mental nothing. I found that my head felt like it unwound. The more it unwound, the clearer my mental space became. It was like a driving meditation. Then my mind started to think clearly and freely and at the end of the trip I was able to write down some great ideas for the off site that I hadn’t even thought of with all of the planning I had done. Looking at art is great. I have spent my whole corporate career involved with the arts: creating it, lecturing about it, writing about it, teaching it, working in galleries etc. The last year due to the pace of the business and life in general, I have probably spent as little time in galleries as I ever have. One of the creative team building programs that we ran took our clients into the National Gallery of Canberra. I love to do this as it great for people to be taken to a new place, experience something different and give their brain some new stimulus.(see point 1) What I had forgotten about was just how powerful an experience it can be! Art is amazing. It is one of the worlds oldest forms of communication. Man was drawing and painting to record ideas a long time before they were writing. No matter what you think of art, what you like and what you dont like you can always take some great things away from it: Colour is beautiful. This is a great way to look at an abstract art work. Just look at the colours if nothing else and enjoy them. Art can be huge. The scale of some of these artworks is amazing. It’s inspiring. Art...

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