The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Friday, September 30, 2022
63 Gee Street, London, EC1V 3RS
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations

How the current world is shaping our creativity

Exploring creative practice in an organisational context through the Tavistock Institute’s Deepening Creative Practice programme

In a period in which the world has changed fundamentally, many people have taken the opportunity to question what these changes mean for our working lives, our organisational structures, and our capacity for creativity.  None more so than the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, where exploring and facilitating change is at the heart of the organisation’s work.

In recent years, the Institute has taken on an artist in residence and Director of Arts and Organisation, Juliet Scott, who has solidified the significance the Institute places on the importance of art and culture in the workplace and beyond.

In 2020, along with colleague and senior researcher Heather Stradling, Juliet launched an innovative new programme: Deepening Creative Practice with organisations.  With the aim of building and facilitating a programme in five seasons that is co-created by external artists and programme participants, the programme was to be brought to life at the Jerwood Space in London.  When the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020, however, it became clear that the only way to go forward would be to move online and to work with the significant uncertainty about the coming year by remaining flexible, open and creative.  

Through five seasons that unfolded, artists and participants explored their relationship to the new context and discovered new ways of finding creativity in this space.  Working with media such as photography, spoken word, and musical composition, dream culture and choreography, the programme worked with art and creativity to explore several seasonal themes such as Play; Project,Power and Politics; Performance; Letting Go and Transformation, also building in ideas of and working with systems psychodynamics that are central to the working life of the Tavistock Institute.

What had been expected to be an opportunity to create art in a shared space and make physical connections, became a chance to understand how we can connect to one another creatively online.  This took several forms, many of which manifested in the programme’s fifth and final exhibiting season.

Online Social Dreaming Matrices (in which a group shares recent dreams and associations to those dreams, exploring the collective unconscious) provided a space for deep connection, whilst the programme participants’ online Lunchtime Space also gave guests the chance to curate their own online experience, responding to invitations to explore, observe and play with various questions and themes.  In early June the first cohort announced the launch of  ‘Open’. Issue 1 draws on the work of the year-long programme and on the learning and insights from the contributions of artists and practitioners from a range of disciplines. It reflects engagement with new, emergent and traditional practices.

Emin Birsel is the European director of an FMCG company, and entered the programme to help discover how to integrate creativity into his organisational life.  ‘[DCP] has given me new perspectives, thoughts, inspirations.’ He writes, ‘Not only for my artistic interests but also a fresh perspective for my professional work.  I have been reflecting particularly about curation for organisations, change management and how to bring about outstanding performance linked to the vision and mission of an organisation and how to create processes that enable these under time and competitive pressures.  What is the role of interventions and how to bring them about… I have no answers but a myriad of provocations…

As the world continues to change and reshape, the programme will begin its second iteration, this time with the addition of faculty member Rachel Kelly who will bring her organisational experience and particular expertise in the Alexander Technique into the creative melange.

Starting in October 2021, the Tavistock Institute will take on a new DCP cohort to explore creativity and its relationship to organisational life in an evolving landscape.  This will work with a different emerging context.  The programme will be located in the Institute’s new and dynamic workspace in Clerkenwell, London, enabling flexibility between face to face and online working, reflecting the rapidly adapting organisational world as we move through different phases of the pandemic.  This new working context will give more inclusivity, creating the opportunity for participants to join from near and far.  What will be learned about the way in which we work and organise ourselves with art and culture interwoven, is sure to generate some rich and highly pertinent material.

DCP Prototyping, Den Andel, Netherlands, 2020

Rachel Kelly

PR & Engagement

[email protected]

M: 07904 549 989

Interviews available with relevant staff:

Juliet Scott, Programme Director and Heather Stradling, Co-Director