As part of our Inspiring Minds initiative, we’re talking to local people who participate in art and find it beneficial for their mental health. This time the spotlight’s on Kezia Hoffman who you may have seen in action spray painting in the town centre as part of our Together We Make Eastleigh project.
Kezia graduated with a sculpture degree from Winchester School of Art in 1998. She then became a mother and a community artist before setting up her own venue, the Granary Creative Arts Centre in rural Hampshire, in 2016. She spoke to The Point’s Suna Imre.
Q: What kind of art do you make and why?
A: I sculpt with stone, wood, clay and play with spray, paint, ink and drawing. I used to criticise myself for not focusing on one form but these days I see versatility as a gift. Creativity for me is a form of problem solving and storytelling, a transition from one state to another, a playful leap into an idea, or state, or problem, asking ‘what gift can I bring forward from this ?’
I approach an issue from all angles, asking, ‘what is this, why is this and what is the story that wants to be told?’ Connecting with feelings is important; I would rather play with the raw essence of a subject than be technically advanced or pretty. I would like people’s response to be visceral and ideally, they would be able to take a gift from it too. So in that sense, art is an offering.
Q: In what ways does making art have an impact on your mental health?
A: What concerns me is authenticity - so much of current modern society takes people away from their authentic selves. If we all did our best to tap into who we really are and how we want to live, without having to prove anything, then perhaps that would solve part of the mental health crisis we currently find ourselves in. I believe that listening to our inner nature, responding to the natural world around us and building a quiet relationship with the environment would enable us to access what makes us truly human.
I spend a lot of time walking in the woods and I allow myself to get lost and be guided by the environment. As humans we have done so much taking from the natural world and we have seen it as a commodity. What’s missing is our ability to listen to nature. I think nature does talk back to us and the listening process is absolutely what is needed to be creative too. There is a listening to something that is greater than yourself, that you are a part of that wants to be expressed.
So when we are not being creative and authentic - those things that really make us happy and alive in the world - then all sorts of problems can arise and impact our health and wellbeing.
Q: What space do you go into when you're making?
A: I want to be engaged and surprised by the making process so I wait until I get excited by an idea. Then I like to stand back, listen for its shape and respond in ways which may challenge me and force me to step out of my depth. I like to get lost in the unknown because, in that place, I know I can grow. I love that feeling of playfulness, that comes with uncharted territory as there are no set rules or expectations. That's where I feel alive.