Andrew Spearpoint is a community musician with a particular interest in devised group music making and collaborative work. His current interests include the development of a homemade Gamelan and arts and health work involving the use of objects and artefacts.
How would you describe your role as a Creative Associate?
To make stuff happen. To surprise schools by what might be possible. To make connections that they might be able to use in the long term. To create a buzz and hopefully turn that into a solid, purposeful piece of creative work that has a positive impact on the children and staff and that they will remember beyond their time at school. To build an enthusiasm for trying new things.
What has being a Creative Associate meant for your career?
It's early days yet but I'm making connections and talking to interesting people. I live out in the sticks, am fairly new to Ireland and much of my freelance work is quite solitary so it's nice to be working collaboratively. It's giving me a degree of security over the medium term too and making it easier to be selective about what other work I take on. I'm sure that in time the contacts that I'm making will prove useful in relation to other projects. It's great to be able to think beyond my own art form.
What is the best piece of advice you received early on in your career?
Keep your silly ways or throw them out the window
The wisdom of your ways, I've been there and I know
Lots of other ways, what a jolly bad show
If all you ever do is business you don't like
—Ian Dury, 1977
Pick a card at random from Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies, which a friend gave me a set of in 1999. I've just done that and got "Gardening, not architecture", which is one of my favourites and of relevance to this work.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new Creative Associate?
Be flexible. Always be positive but don't be afraid to have an opinion. You will encounter a variety of responses! Remember that Creative Schools will only be one of many things that the school have going on. Don't get too hung up on the process but have a clear idea of what you hope to achieve for the participants and find ways of making that happen. Advocate strongly for the children having a key role in deciding what happens but don't be afraid to throw your own ideas into the mix. Don't be precious.
What or who has influenced your career?
An inspirationally narrow minded music teacher at school. I was a music obsessed teenager but it was 'the wrong kind of music' that I was into. There's a lot of value in working stuff out for yourself. A low boredom threshold.
The late Lanto Thornber who ran a great music shop in Leeds. He worked in schools and persuaded me have a go myself. He sold me lots of drums.
All sorts of mostly musicians that I've worked with over the years who've given me new ideas and material.
The young people and adults I've worked with. Going back to the bad music teacher, it still feels subversive to be able to make music with people who don't think that they know anything about music.