Make time for some delicious diligent indolence this New Year…I don’t go in much for New Year’s resolutions but I do like to use the transition into another year to reflect on what I’d like to make more time for during the next 12 months. In 2014, borrowing the delightful phrase from John Keats (in a letter he wrote to John Reynolds in February 1818), I’d like to indulge in more ‘diligent indolence’ – or in other words actively make time for dreaming and thinking, without feeling guilty about it. For what Keats was rightly pointing out in his letter is that what may be looked negatively upon by society as laziness or indolence is in fact a necessary, and enjoyable, part of the creative process:
“Let [man] on a certain day read a certain page of full Poesy or distilled Prose, and let him wander upon it, and bring home to it, and prophesy upon it, and dream upon it…How happy is such a voyage of concentration, what delicious diligent Indolence!”
In A Book of Silence, Sara Maitland explores the experience of living in solitude, spending periods of silence in the Sinai desert, the Scottish hills, and a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye. In the book Maitland delves deep into the rich cultural history of silence, exploring its significance in fairy tale and myth, its importance to the Western and Eastern religious traditions, and its use in psychoanalysis and artistic expression. She has recently partnered with The School of Life to bring out a new ebook called How to be Alone in which she outlines strategies for overturning our fear of solitude and reaping the benefits of time spent alone. She believes that ‘by indulging in the experience of being alone, we can be inspired to find our own rewards and ultimately lead more enriched, fuller lives.’
If the Scottish Hills seem a little too remote, The Expansionists have created a solution a little closer to London. Katie Gordon and her team of trustees – all of whom write and/or work in the Arts - have set up 57a, an artists’ and writers’ residency programme in Whitstable, Kent, ‘in order to aid and support creative expression.’
They provide artists with a place to stay, a workspace and in some cases a stipend for living costs in a quiet location near the sea. Anyone can apply, and they’ll consider each application as a panel. The project is dedicated to the actress Lucy Gordon and exists to help people find the space, time and freedom to develop their art and experiment with new artistic practice.
Applications are now open for residencies in January, February, March and April 2014. To apply download their application form, explaining why you wish to undertake the residency and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. They request that applicants include some recent examples of their work and anything else they think is relevant.