Friday, April 5, 2013

Disbandment of the Green Your Art initiative as a physical entity

Most of you know that this blog has been the digital outlet and representation of a physical movement or initiative based in Cape Town. Last year we did a demonstration on creating recycled paper, homemade glue and plant dye on Pasella. And recently we had a meeting about setting up a GYA team to run projects and extend the reach of the small initiative. In the last GYA newsletter, however, I've expressed my decision to disband the initiative. My commitment to Green Art and the role of creativity in sustainable development is by no means diminished by this act, and I have more time to focus on creating art from waste materials and developing/finding eco-friendly art materials and alternatives. This blog will be kept updated, I will connect and collaborate as an artist with projects, work and initiatives by people involved and interested in Green Art, and I now have more time to dedicate towards making the Green Expo art exhibition a bigger success this year.

The decision not made due to a lack of support from people interested to get involved and help with the initiative, and I really appreciate and value the generous offers of help and involvement. My reasons for making the big decision were based on my personal aims and priorities. If, at all, anyone is interested in fully taking on the running, management and drive of the initiative I am happy to give everything I have as resources. So if you feel THIS strong about the existence and continuation of this project, please contact me at!

And now we get to the juicy bits - my reasons. Hopefully someone could learn from this, or maybe it gives you the inspiration and insight towards making important changes in your own life.

The who, why and how of the disbandment of the Green Your Art initiative

I, Janet Botes, have been running the "show" for a few years - first in the form of the 'Ecojunki' movement, then shortly as Greenivate, and finally as GYA (Green Your Art). The project evolved from a platform for my green art projects that didn't seem to fit my other fine art works, which at that stage (from about mid 2007) were mostly self-expressive, abstract art.

As my work evolved and I grew as an artist and person, the two separate directions or styles in my art (abstract, expressive versus eco-friendly nature-focused) started to merge. Which led me towards making Ecojunki and eventually Green Your Art more inclusive - featuring other artists and encouraging artists to work with a more environmentally-sensitive approach.

One of my biggest challenges has been to manage my time in a way that I don't neglect important aspects of my art or of the initiative. I've ended up spending too many hours in front of the computer and not enough time with a paintbrush in my hand, too many hours strategizing and brainstorming and not enough time being in nature.

When assessing and evaluating the situation during the two weeks following the meeting on 16 March, I shared my feelings, concerns and thoughts with my husband, who's walked most of the Ecojunki-GYA journey with me. He reminded me that I've considered 'merging' it with my art practice (e.g. giving eco art workshops under my own artist name rather than GYA), and disbanding the initiative four other times within the last two years. I've felt - and strongly now feel - the need to focus my efforts towards more self-initiated and consolidated projects as an artist, land artist, designer, workshop facilitator and photographer, without the responsibilities and expectations involved with running an initiative representing or affecting other people's projects, interests and investments.

In a sense I am becoming more selfish with my time, but the result of time spent on my passions rather than sticking to something I've outgrown, or something that has outgrown me, will prove itself valuable to everyone who work with me. Essentially I am an artist, and I get great joy from creating new things. Even though I've done a relatively efficient job at running Green Your Art, my management, coordination and organizing skills are not my strengths, and does not serve my purpose on the earth as well as working as a committed full time artist, crafter, and creator. There are several organizations and initiatives that serve as similar collective network or play a connective role within our community in supporting and connecting artists and people with a strong connection to nature and sustainable development. Get involved with these guys: annually has global campaigns which give ample opportunity to get create and raise awareness for the environment. They also have the following specific art-related campaigns or initiatives to get involved with:

There's also several links on the links page of this blog!

After sharing most of my personal reasons, I'd like to end off with a quick explanation why setting up the team, and sharing responsibilities with other people, would not have been sufficient in truly giving me the time and focus that I crave:
  • Even when having people to help with a project, there needs to be a leader, facilitator, director to organize the responsibilities, people and resources. This is a big responsibility and have proven to be just as time consuming than 'doing things yourself'', your tasks and actions just change. In fact, with growth comes more admin!
  • I find that people are seldom able to take charge, commit or take ownership of something that they didn't conceive or create. This is natural, and of course there is often uncertainty on how much and what you are 'allowed' to do or change within a company, organization or initiative. This keeps the onus of driving the initiative forward mostly, if not solely, on me.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment at the end of this post! I trust, however, that I have given a relatively clear image of my reasoning around the disbandment of Green Your Art.

With no regrets & a warm heart,
Janet Botes

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