Rosalie Gascoigne, Feathered Fence, 1979
explore, inspire

Age no barrier to creativity

Rosalie Gascoigne, Feathered Fence, 1979
Rosalie Gascoigne, Feathered Fence, 1979

There is great comfort in knowing that it is never too late to pursue your creative dreams.

Rosalie Gascoigne, a New Zealander who moved to an isolated community in Australia with her astronomer husband, didn’t have her first art exhibition until she was 57. She had excelled in Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) prior to taking up art, which started by piecing together debris she found in the countryside. There is something profoundly beautiful about art made from the things we discard. And Gascoigne’s vision and ability to assemble powerful art only grew as she aged.

Mary Delany was an 18th century botanical artist who poet Molly Peacock writes about in her exquisite book, The The Paper Garden – a book so beautiful, I felt I should be wearing gloves to handle it. Like Rosalie, Mary began her artistic efforts late in life when she began assembling flower “mosaicks” made from intricately cut and layered papers. From the age of about 72 Mary Delany created 985 cut paper flowers. Her aim had been 1,000, but her eyes gave out at 82.

Author of the famous Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder was 64 when she wrote the first of her autobiographical books. The last of the series, These Happy Golden Years, was published when Ingalls Wilder was 76.

Author of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert defines creativity as choosing curiosity over the path of fear.

“Fear: I recognize and respect that you are part of this family and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still you suggestions will NEVER be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice but you are not allowed to have a VOTE. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. And, above all else, my dear and familiar friend, you are absolutely FORBIDDEN to drive.” 

You can hear more about Elizabeth’s overcoming fear in this chat with the lovely On Being host Krista Tippet.

Image of Rosalie Gascoigne, Feathered Fence, 1979 by Biennale of Sydney

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