Art Saves • by Beth Nicholls
For the past ten years I have been so lucky to have a career which has taken me all over the world
– to over 50 countries on every continent – but no matter where I went, when I was ‘on business’
it always felt like there was something else tugging at my attention. Looking back now I see that I
was searching out beauty wherever I went – whether that meant photographing children in Nepal,
sketching seals on icebergs in Antarctica, exploring handmade paper workshops in Japan or learning
about flower styling in Thailand. I would often go early, and stay on after my colleagues had flown
home, spending time alone seeking out creative inspiration.
Recently, sorting through the thousands of photographs, postcards and finds I have collected on my travels over the years, I realised something. What I thought was just a deep love of adventure and curiosity about other cultures and people, was also a decade-long creative-inspiration-gathering trip. The rose quartz from the Namibian desert, the pebbles from a Greek beach, the prayer flags from Bhutan, the ribbon from Paris – it is all there waiting to be translated into art.
Over time I started to realise there was some strange power that seemed to envelop me when I did anything creative, whether that be making a book or welding steel. But I was so focused on my career in the corporate world, and later with global charity UNICEF (which I found very rewarding), that I never stopped to consider what it was. I never paused to think whether there was a way of harnessing that power and letting it spill over into my every day.
That is until I went on my first art retreat, and everything changed.
I realised it was like I had been living my life on a train, always travelling, going somewhere, getting flashes of beauty as the countryside raced past. But the day I went to my first art retreat was the day that train pulled into a station and I got off. I started to explore the world beyond with bare feet and open eyes, right in amongst it, instead of peering at it through the train window. Suddenly I could smell the grass, hear the birds, feel the dew between my toes. A whole new world opened up to me. And it was in glorious technicolour.
This past year has probably been the most transformational of my whole life. I have allowed myself to say ‘I am an artist’, and established a new business running art retreats and e-courses to give others the tools and inspiration to do what they love, for life.
Now I truly am doing what I love. I have art to thank for that, and will be eternally grateful.
To learn more about Beth Nicholls, visit dowhatyouloveforlife.com.