Updated: Jul 8
Creativity is a form of self-care, with many positive benefits for our well-being, helping us to live a healthier and a longer life. Human beings have needed to have the drive to create, innovate and explore for basic survival and being able to adapt to new things, develop ourselves and thrive.
For optimum wellbeing, we all need to find a method of self care that we enjoy, bringing us increased energy and happiness. If we are able to have a creative interest that challenges us and brings us more fulfilment in life, then we feel more motivated to include it in our every day routine. Whether your creative outlet is drawing, singing, sewing, music, dancing, writing, baking or gardening, it is a positive way to channel your thoughts and energy. It provides a sense of achievement and pride, which are the building blocks for your self-esteem and confidence, this can then boost our resilience levels.
Being in the moment whilst being creative leads to better problem solving, reducedstress levels, stops rumination, increases self acceptance and is the gateway to flow. We know we are in a state of flow when we are fully focused and absorbed in a creative task, we become distracted from ourselves, others, what is happening around us and loose awareness of time. Our attention is only on what we are creating, and making sure we achieve something positive, beautiful and meaningful. We don’t havespace for worrying thoughts and so happens to be a great way to escape the not so good things that may be happening in our everydaylives.
Having your own creative interest helps developa positive self identity. Those who have suffered from anxiety, depression and trauma have found creative expression healing. Activities such as writing,painting or drawing can enable people to express or manage theiremotions in a positive and productive way. This can include helpingpeople to express their goals, or experiences that may be too difficult toput into words, having a beneficial impact on their mental health. Writing about an emotional topic lowers cortisol levels and helps to reduce negative thoughts and emotions. It can also give a different perspective on an issue. Drawing, painting or sculpting are especially helpful ways to use imagery for people to process and express traumatic events in situations where it is difficult to communicate them verbally. Drawing and doodling helps us to achieve that moment of flow, which boosts our mood and slows our heart rate down. Music calms neural activity, which helps to decrease anxiety and restore emotional balance. Whereas movement-based creative expression can help you to de-stress.
When we have successfully created something, our brain releases dopamine, this natural antidepressant can improve our mood and also helps to motivate us. Our brain changes throughout life, even as adults our brain has the ability to change and adapt. When we have new experiences and learn intentionally, we generate new brain cells and lay down new neural connections and even increase the volume of specific areas. People who play musical instruments have improved connectivity pathwaysbetween the right and left of their brain. Music is also an effective form of therapy for dementia, helping to reduce agitation. It helps with concentration and being focused. Other types of creative activities including crafting, painting or has also helped to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in middle aged and the elderly. Creative activities have a calming effect on the brain and body.
The founder of “Art of Mindfulness,” Wendy Ann, has defined the 7 coreattitudes of Creative Mindfulness as Patience, Kindness, Curiosity, Persistence, Allowing, Trust and Playfulness.
She has worked with Art and culture organisations all over the UK. As an arts and creative writing teacher in schools, colleges, adult education centres and art galleries, she has supported hundreds of adults, children and families with enjoying and developing their own creativity. Her philosophy as she states is this “Simply put, I believe that we all have an extraordinary – possibly even limitless – natural potential as human beings for compassion, creativity, joy, wisdom and peace. I believe that creativity and mindfulness are two ways, through which we can begin to realise this potential for inner freedom and wellbeing. I’m enthusiastically committed to this in my own life, and to supporting you to find it in yours.” She has a a FREE Stop Look Breathe Create Mindful Art Course called “3 Step” available for anyone to sign up here at
One particular interesting point thatWendy Ann has said, is that for her being mindful has taught her more about being creative, and being creative has taught her more aboutbeing mindful. Even though her own creative pursuits go in cycles,whether it happens to be writing, photography, drawing or mixed media,her mindfulness is always the one state of being that remains constantthroughout. She has also said that her inner-voices do not stop her frommoving forward, they lead her towards having more insight into how hermind works and having more self- compassion.
We all have a creative outlet waiting to be discovered, don’t be afraid totry out new activities whilst being curious of the outcome. When we feelcurious we are present, alert and engaged. Maybe there is a new activityyou would like to try or start doing again? Try to think about how they will add value to your life and make you feel happy. Sometimes we just need to change the Creative activities we pursue to develop our growthmindset. Enjoying the process matters more than the end result. We won’talways get things perfect every time, mistakes are how we learn to challenge ourselves and problem solve. Through this learning we are able to fulfil our true potential. What is it you like about the things you’re naturally drawn towards? Can you identify a particular strength where you could flourish?
If you are feeling out of touch with your creative side, then thinking about the things that inspire you or the activities or passions that you most enjoyed as a child, can help to give you direction. When deciding upon a new creative venture, also try to consider what it is that you need right now, how it will benefit you and what you want in your life. Keeping a journal to note down or draw things that inspire your creativity will help you remember your ideas. It’s also a good idea to find your own little, quiet space in your home where you can get to work on your projects.
Perhaps you have already decided on how you want to channel yourcreativity, but struggle to find the time and to keep it going. The WEA
(adult learning within reach)
have a selection of creative courses that can be done online via Zoom.Courses usually run for four to twelve weeks, with each session lasting no more than two hours. Having direction from a tutor not only helps to improve your skills but share your interest with other like minded people whilst providing the opportunity to make new connections. Scheduling a time slot for your creative tasks into your calendar is also helpful, if you make them a priority in your schedule you are more likely to do them.Don’t try to do too many projects at once though because this will just cause feelings of stress and failure. It’s more helpful to schedule in different tasks to focus on for each month. You don’t have to take too long doing them either, even if you only spend five minutes doodling, doing this each day can have positive effects on your wellbeing.
It is those little creative daily tasks that help us feel motivated to keep upwith the mundane everyday chores. Getting absorbed in just one hobby or passion regularly helps our brain stay healthy and helps to find our unique sense of purposes.
Thank you for reading this. Please feel free to write any comments or feedback to me below or via our Art Culture Tourism links.
Updated: Jul 8
This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of the medieval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, known as the Father of the Italian language. Throughout Italy there is a dense calendar of commemorative online events. In his life Dante travelled and lived in different places. Florence, which exiled him; Verona which first hosted him and then let him go; and Ravenna, who welcomed him until the end of his days. With in-between stops in Rome, Arezzo, Pisa, Bologna, Forli...
The first date to mark on the agenda is March 25: from 2019 this day has officially become the “DanteDay”. According to scholars, in fact, on March 25th 1300 Dante began his descent into the underworld “In the middle of the journey of our life”. And on March 25 various events are scheduled to remember him: conferences, web directives, concerts.
DanteDay joins ShakespeareDay, celebrated every year throughout the United Kingdom and around the world on April 23, the presumed date of birth (1564) of the poet of Hamlet and of Romeo and Juliet; and after that, a Bloomsday, which since 1950 is celebrated every year in Dublin and elsewhere on June 16, the birth day (in 1904) of the Irish writer James Joyce, commemorating his masterpiece, Ulysses, through the figure of the protagonist, Leopold Bloom.
Florence’s Uffizi Gallery has initiated the Dante anniversary by making available, for the first time on line on its website, 88 rarely displayed drawings of Dante’s masterpiece, “Divine Comedy”. The virtual show of high-resolution images of works by the 16th-Century Renaissance artist Federico Zuccari (1539-1609) (famous for having frescoed the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore), is accessible “for free, any hour of the day, for everyone,’’ said Uffizi director Eike Schmidt. Schmidt said the drawings are a “great resource” for Dante scholars and students, as well as “anyone who likes to be inspired by Dante’s pursuit of knowledge and virtue.” https://www.uffizi.it/en/online-exhibitions-series/to-rebehold-the-stars “The Divine Comedy” is an epic poem in three parts recounting a pilgrim’s travels through hell, purgatory and heaven.
ACT welcomes fellow blogger Patrizia Poggi. She is a writer and Ambassador of Knowledge and Flavors of Italy & Friends, the Diplomatic Representative Network of Knowledge and Flavors of Italy, based in Florence, which helps to raise awareness of the wonders of Italy. https://italiaefriends.wordpress.com/ Patrizia recounts her story which is fascinating, mysterious and immersive.
Marysia Zipser ****
A 700 year-long mystery : In September 1321 Dante Alighieri died. By Patrizia Poggi
When talking about Dante, the mind immediately runs to Florence but, in spite of what one might think, Dante is not buried in the Tuscan capital, but in Ravenna, the city where he died on the night between 13 and 14 September 1321. It is in fact in Emilia-Romagna that the Supreme Poet, exiled from his hometown, spent his last years. And it is here that, even to-day, it is possible to visit the neoclassical sepulchre which contains his remains. An epitaph in Latin celebrates the memory of Dante, whose tomb is located in the centre of Ravenna. It was in Ravenna that Dante concluded the songs of Paradise by completing his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy.
Ravenna, city of art, culture, sea, nature, bell towers, monastic cloisters and splendid early Christian religious monuments on the World Heritage List of UNESCO: http://www.turismo.ra.it/eng/Discover-the-area/Art-and-culture/Unesco-world-heritage But Ravenna is above all the city of Byzantine mosaics and of Dante, who spent the last years of his life in this corner of Romagna, composing the conclusive songs of Paradise. Just in Ravenna the «Supreme Poet» died the night between 13 and 14 September 1321, probably following an attack of malaria contracted on his return from a diplomatic mission carried out in Venice. The solemn funeral took place in the Basilica of San Francesco and his body placed in a marble sarcophagus placed outside the church, next to the walls of the Franciscan convent, to which Dante was very devoted. The religious themselves also built the convent with two cloisters later rebuilt in the Renaissance period and other rooms in which the library is now housed and the Dante Museum, established in 1921, to celebrate the sixth centenary of the Poet's death. https://centrodantesco.it/museo-centro-dantesco/
Images below from left to right:
Looking towards the tomb of Dante, Ravenna
Tomb of Dante, Ravenna
Tomb of Dante, Ravenna
The body was quarrelled for a long time by the cities of Ravenna and Florence. Florence tried several times to take back the remains of Dante, but every attempt was always revealed with nothing done: the first time happened in 1396, then in 1428 and in 1476. Florence had almost succeeded in 1519 but something went wrong. The then Pope Leo X, a Florentine by birth (his father was Lorenzo the Magnificent), had authorized the requests of the Medici Academy to transfer Dante's bones to Florence.
Among the signatories there was also Michelangelo who had even run for a funeral monument at the height of the reputation of the Supreme Poet. Everything now seemed written and Ravenna could not oppose the pope's will, having now passed between its possessions. However, when the papal delegates found themselves opening the sarcophagus, no trace of Dante's bones was found: the tomb was practically empty! Who had stolen the bones of the great poet? Who had taken the unacceptable theft at night time? Despite the investigations and the thousand conjectures for two centuries, the mystery remained unsolved and the remains now missing. The truth came to light only later in 1865 when, in breaking down a section of wall near the chapel of Braccioforte, a wooden box, apparently anonymous, was found which reported the inscription "Dantis bones (...)". Apparently the friars, at the time of the papal delegation of 1519, to avoid that the poet's remains were taken away from Ravenna, had stealthily drilled a hole in the tomb and stolen the remains. These remained hidden inside the convent and jealously guarded.
Images below from left to right:
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Portrait of Dante Alighieri, oil on canvas, 1495. Private collection.
Domenico di Michelino (1417-1491). Dante and his poem, 1465. Fresco in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Credit photo: arte.it
The oldest documented portrait of Dante known Palazzo dell'Arte dei Giudici e Notai, Florence. Detail fresco. Photo credit: arte.it
Andrea del Castagno (1423-1457). Dante, cycle of illustrious men and women, 1450. Cenacle of the former Benedictine convent of S. Apollonia, Florence. Credit photo: arte.it
Luca Signorelli (1445-1523). Portrait of Dante fresco datable between 1500 and 1504 in the Chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Credit photo: arte.it
Annibale Gatti (1828-1909). Dante in exile, 1854. Oil on canvas, cm 80x70. Florence, Uffizi Gallery Credit photo: Florence, Uffizi Gallery
In 1780-1781, on the occasion of the construction of the current tomb by the architect Camillo Morigia, they were relocated to the original urn again but for a very short time. In 1810, in fact, due to the Napoleonic laws, the friars were forced to leave the convent, but first they took care to hide the box with bones in a walled up door of the Quadrarco of Braccioforte. It remained there until 1865 when it was accidentally found. On that occasion, the body was recomposed, exposed to the public in a crystal urn for a few months, then entombed again in the small temple that we know today.
Since then, apart from the small transfers that occurred during the Second World War to avoid possible destruction, the remains of the Supreme Poet have not undergone any movement, thus putting an end to a dramatic event that for centuries has permeated his bones with mystery.
In neoclassical style, Dante's temple has a quadrangular plan and is covered by a dome surmounted by a pine cone. The external facade has a door surmounted by the archbishop's coat of arms of Cardinal Gonzaga; on the architrave there is the Latin engraving: "DANTIS POETAE SEPULCRUM". The funeral monument is a national monument. The interior of the tomb, covered with marble and stucco, exhibits a Roman sarcophagus on which the epitaph dictated by Bernardo Canaccio in 1366 was carved:
«The rights of the monarchy, the skies and the waters of Flegetonte visiting I sang until they turned my mortal destinies. But since my soul went to better places, and even more blessed reached its Creator among the stars, here I am (I) Dante, exiled from his homeland, to whom he generated Florence, mother of little love».
Above the tomb there is a bas-relief by Pietro Lombardo, dated 1483 and depicting Dante thoughtfully in front of a lectern. A bronze garland, placed at the foot of the sarcophagus, was donated by the veterans of the First World War in 1921.
At the centre of the ceiling is an eighteenth-century lamp, powered by the olive oil of the Tuscan hills that Florence gives every second Sunday of September, on the occasion of the anniversary of death. Outside, precisely to the right of Dante's Tomb, a gate leads to the enclosure of Braccioforte, the ancient oratory of the convent of San Francesco where the funeral of the Supreme Poet was celebrated. The so-called Dante area was established near the monument, within which a respectful silence is required.
Dante images by a selection of contemporary artists below.
Images from left to right:
Street art of Eduardo Kobra, Brazilian artist born in Sao Paulo in 1976
Salvador Dalì (1904-1989) made a series of colour woodcuts dedicated to the Divine Comedy.
Elisabetta Gulli Grigioni (1937), The Welcome a little valentine for Ravenna. cm 25x311 The valentine is composed by a rare postcard in chromolithography travelled in 1918 but probably earlier, inspired by one of the highest welcoming events in Ravenna and depicts Dante in the Pineta in a moment of thoughtful rest.
Dante Alighieri & Ghino di Tacco by Joe Ganech. Poster exhibited at ACT’s ITALY Art & Photography Exhibition, Beeston, Nottingham, March 2018. Dante himself refers to Ghino di Tacco mentioning his actions in the sixth canto of Purgatory of his Divine Comedy.
Events of the city of Ravenna: https://vivadante.it/ Società Dante Alighieri, formed in 1889, promotes Italian culture and language in more than 60 countries around the world with 500 offices. https://ladante.it/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri_Society
UPDATE NEWS 25.1.21 «The Dante Alighieri Society of Ravenna extends a warm greeting to the Dante Alighieri Society of Nottingham thanking Marysia Zipser, precious builder of cultural bridges through the blog Art Culture Tourism International, for her hospitality.
The President, Franco Gabici, informs that in Dante's extensive bibliography there are two fundamental texts: "The last refuge of Dante Alighieri" by Corrado Ricci and Fabio Frassetto's "Dantis Ossa".
Corrado Ricci's work was reprinted in 1965 edited by Eugenio Chiarini. "Dantis Ossa", however, was published in 1933 and is no longer being re-proposed.
For this reason the Dante Alighieri Society of Ravenna proposes, at the celebrations of the 700th anniversary an anastatic edition with a preface by Giorgio Gruppioni, Anthropologist of Bologna University and with texts by Franco Gàbici and Alfredo Cottignoli.
The anastatic edition will be released next September. Interested students and scholars can contact the DAS».
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