Aleasha is the Featured Creative for our Journey themed retreat. Aleasha invited Muse Retreats to become involved with her current public performance known as the ‘Handless Project’ so our Journey themed retreat has been incorporated as one of the many happenings planned. The Handless Project is a 24 hour pilgrimage around the city of Liverpool which was inspired by the fairy story, ‘The Handless Maiden’. 

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  1. How would you describe your creative self (e.g. writer, painter, dabbler)?

I would describe myself as someone trying not to ask permission. The less I ask permission to do what I do, the more it seems to resonate with people. I will use whatever medium comes to hand be that sound design, painting, body art, writing, video or performance.

  1. What’s your first memory of being creative?

My mom loves art. She was forever trying to introduce me and my older cousin to things that she liked. It was an eclectic mix usually around exhibitions and concerts that she had been to in Birmingham. I remember dancing across our living room pretending to be spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I had a passion for the Pre-Raphaelites. Birmingham’s main gallery has a huge collection of kid friendly colourful paintings, like the Blind Girl by John Everett Millais. It is bright and shiny and sad, like a fairytale and we would visit it every week for most of my early childhood. My attempts at painting portraits at school were influenced by that. I cried at a drawing I did of my mother that I could see looked more like a potato than a person. It was a difficult moment, it took me years to give up the image of what a “real” painting should look like.

  1. Why do you create?

I am usually filling in a gap. I want to make things that I feel are missing, either from my life or from the society I live in. At the moment I feel that is public ritual and an appreciation of each other’s inner worlds.

  1. Where do you create?

All over the place! I have had a series of studios and now an office. I sometimes work from home. Best place for that is bed.

  1. How would you describe your creative process?

I am usually trying to spiral deeper and deeper into something that already exists. I like learning. I like finding out new things so I tend to start with a lot of research and reading. Then I try to unravel that new information and make it directly accessible to other people either through sound or image or writing or performance. Whatever means necessary.

  1. Which of your creations are you most proud of & why?

I am proud of my current work The Handless Project. Not asking permission has helped me get my motivation back. It has also helped me to get rid of my fear of drawing potato headed people. I am working on a public ritual based on a fairytale I read when I was a kid. The story is The Handless Maiden – a gruesome tale about a girl whose father cuts off her hands to get out of a bad deal he made with the devil. Ultimately, the story is a feminine heroes’ journey. I have used this project to grow, to connect with people and to heal some of my wounded, inner creative.

The next event will be an urban pilgrimage around the city of Liverpool between 19th-21st May 2017. We are inviting people to join us on a silent walk around the city and/or stop and eat with us at the places we will visit for meals and rests all of which are community focused food, drink and hospitality spaces. (Squash Nutrition, Homebaked and 17 Love Lane)

  1. What’s the best creative advice you’ve ever been given?

I think I have mentioned it already Don’t ask permission, just do it. I also found Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability really helpful. Understanding the shame that is a part of creating is important.

  1. What’s the worst creative advice you’ve ever been given?

I was once told that there was something wrong with my personality because I asked for help. These days I ask for help as often as I can.

  1. What advice would you give to other creatives out there?

Your creativity belongs to you. It is not up for discussion or dissection. Make what you want. If you want other people to be involved, however, make sure you are creating from somewhere deep in you. You have to have skin in the game as it were. Ann Bogart the theatre director says “Your progress in the work is your progress in life. You can’t hide.” I try to live by that statement.

  1. Which creative person, living or dead, inspires you most & why?

Photo credit Deborah Wintle Escott

I have a few. I feel lucky to have grown up in the eighties and nineties. Bowie was my first love (imagine four year old me crying during Music and Movement class listening to Major Tom), Joan Armatrading for singing “Show some emotion. Put expression in your eyes. Light up if you’re feeling happy, but if it’s bad then let those tears roll down”. Right now, I most admire the people I am working with on this project especially those who are a part of the amazing Fallen Angels Dance Theatre. It’s a group for people who are in mental health or drug and alcohol dependency recovery. That group of people inspire me every day because of their commitment, courage and creativity. Also Krista Tippett who hosts the OnBeing podcast which is my weekly secular church.

  1. How would you most like your creative work to be remembered?

I would like the work remembered as a catalyst to other things in a person’s life. I always hope to be the first drops of a flood that washes away what people don’t need any more.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes! The Onbeing podcast. It felt like a gift when I found it, now I want to share!

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I will definitely be checking out that podcast! I really love Aleasha’s openess, curiosity and willingness to follow her artistic inspiration, wherever it leads. I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in the facinating Handless Preoject. If you would like to learn more about Aleasha and the project itself, check out the website: http://www.thehandlessproject.com