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Durham University

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In praise of… creativity

(14 November 2019)

Do you think of yourself as a creative person?

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge explores the value and importance of creativity. 

Creativity is central to one of our five core values: being innovative. From ground-breaking teaching methods to cutting-edge academic research, innovation is at the heart of our purpose. Someone once neatly described universities as “ideas machines”.

Sometimes I think we define creativity too narrowly: as limited to the arts. But creativity is also abundant across science, technology and maths. It can be everywhere.

Creativity in science...

During the recent October half-term we held Celebrate Science, our annual free family-friendly science festival on Palace Green. A fantastic 6,000 visitors (of all ages and backgrounds) enjoyed hands-on experiments and inspiring science. If you were there, I hope you had a great time. If you missed it, perhaps you’d like to catch one of our Saturday Morning Science talks? These are accessible talks from world-leading scientists and, again, totally free to all.

Creativity in light...

By the time you’re reading this, Lumiere Durham 2019 will be under way. This is a huge creative collaboration between science (such as the cosmology research from our Physics Department that inspired the Cosmic Architecture projection on our Ogden Centre), art and event planning. We’ve been working hard for some months now to ensure we can keep running the University while welcoming possibly 250,000 people onto our estate.

We support Lumiere because we think we have much in common. Lumiere brings many visitors to Durham, makes a significant contribution to our local economy and helps raise the profile of our City and region nationally and internationally.

I’m sure this year’s Lumiere will be a great success and we’re proud to play our part.

Creativity in art, theatre and music...

Perhaps some snapshot of Lumiere will inspire our students for the Durham University Student Art Prize, which this year has Diversity as its theme. The pick of the entries will form the basis of an exhibition opening next Spring.

Another area of creativity that our students excel in is theatre. Our newly reopened Assembly Rooms Theatre is looking fantastic following its year-long refurbishment and I would wholeheartedly recommend taking in a student show. There’s something in the new programme for everyone.

Of course, creativity is nothing new. We are honoured to soon be hosting an exhibition of works by the acclaimed artist Norman Cornish, whose paintings of everyday life in County Durham mining communities retain a strong appeal long after the closure of the pits.

The exhibition will focus on Cornish’s sketchbooks, offering an intimate insight into his personal thoughts and reflections. We are looking forward to introducing a new generation to his work through a programme of family-friendly events running through to February.

Finally, music. As Durham Markets’ Colin Wilkes kindly pointed out in his Durham Advertiser column last week, many of our very talented students will be providing the musical entertainment as visitors enjoy Durham Christmas Festival in a few weeks’ time. The Christmas Festival is another great collaboration between the University and partners in the City. It is also a great place to pick up a quirky Christmas gift – another example of creativity in action!

So, whatever your passion, interest or hobby, be creative – the evidence is you’ll feel better for it!