Centre for Alternative Technology

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Practising the Art of Living

  • Mon 24th - Sat 29th Sept 2018.
    Course starts at 2pm and ends at 1pm on the last day.
    Course fee (including full board accommodation) £800.

  • Dates, Times & Fees

Course details

A five-day immersive inquiry into creativity and change, led by artists Philip Ralph and Fern Smith.

We believe, along with the artist Joseph Beuys, that “everyone is an artist”.

- What might it feel like if we saw ourselves, our lives and each other as works of art?
- What kind of artist do we need to be in order to serve these chaotic and changing times?
- How do we use our artistry to co-create a sustainable future?
- And how do we sustain ourselves and our creativity while we do it?

This 5-day short course – part creative laboratory, part retreat - is designed for anyone who is questioning their creativity and the way they live their life in a profoundly changing and challenging world. It offers a supportive space for contemplation and a structured process of inquiry into how to be a living, creating human being at a time of collapse, transition and emergence.

This course is suitable for: those who are called to commit to or continue a process of change and transformation individually and collectively; artists and creative individuals who are questioning or refining a practice of being in active service of a life-sustaining future.

Between us we have been theatre-makers, story-tellers, and workshop leaders for over 50 years. We are now co-directors of Emergence, a radical arts-based initiative that advocates ‘creative practice for a sustainable future.’ Through Emergence we have hosted transformative spaces for dialogue and change, made and commissioned art, organised workshops, creative events, walks and land-based activities.

The definition of sustainability at the heart of all Emergence’s work is from Professor Tim Jackson who invites us to cultivate: ‘The art of living well within the ecological limits of a finite planet.’ This course is an opportunity to dig deep into the meaning of this phrase, inviting us all to become adepts of ‘the art of living.’

From our own lived experience, we have learned that we cannot hope to contribute to making change in the world without undergoing profound change in ourselves. This change often feels messy, scary and unfamiliar and usually requires a fundamental shift in our sense of who we are and what we do. Through this course we invite each participant – and ourselves – to inquire:

- How might we tolerate or welcome change, not knowing, or even ‘deconstructing ourselves’ in order to best serve these times?
- How do we allow ourselves to go through a process of vulnerability and uncertainty to enable the future to emerge through each of us?
- How do we develop the capacity, resilience, and skills to live through and create relationship in times of upheaval and confusion?
- What is needed for us to best be of service when it feels as if things are falling apart daily?
- How do we prepare for the new?

Course breakdown.

The course will take place over five days beginning with arrivals and introductions on the Monday evening where we will discover our individual and collective reasons for attending and create the container of practice that will sustain us as a group throughout the week. .

We will then dive into four intense and evolving days of practice, drawing elements from change processes including: the work of Joseph Campbell (The Hero’s Journey); Joanna Macy (The Work That Re-connects); The School Of Lost Borders (Four Shields); and Otto Scharmer (Theory U). .

The course will be organised so as to consciously proceed through different stages of an archetypal cycle of change. We will combine spending reflective time with ourselves, in addition to being in relation to one another and the group. We will use ‘Way of Council,’ a powerful form of speaking in circle, as a means of communication and deep connection to ceremony. .

We will work closely with each course participant to create their own unique, personal intention of inquiry that they will then explore throughout the course. This intention will become their ‘lens’ through which they will approach the various activities and practises the group will undertake. .

Creative assignments and prompts will be offered daily including – journaling, mark-making, earth-based practices, contemplations, improvisation exercises, and opportunities for self-generated ceremony. These will help participants establish an intuitive relationship to their own creativity, cultivate ‘the art of living’, and develop a resilient and flexible presence in unpredictable times. .

By Saturday lunchtime and the end of the course, each participant will have delved deeply into their callings and challenges and will leave with a clearer sense of their future direction as a creative agent of change in this turbulent world. .

This course offers a regenerative space for questioning, contemplative inquiry, and experiential practice in the beautiful surroundings of CAT. Though participants are welcome to stay off-site, we recommend staying at CAT to enable participants to fully immerse themselves in the process. .

Your tutors for this course are Fern Smith and Philip Ralph.
Fern and Philip are directors of Emergence. They were organisers of the Emergence Summit held at CAT in 2012 which included the first of a number of Emergence land journeys, and have recently co-produced a 6-part documentary series on the peace activist Satish Kumar. They have both undertaken Vision Quests and are committed to a regular practice of deep dialogue and sitting in council. They have facilitated events and run workshops with Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Arts Council Wales and a wide range of groups and individuals in the UK and internationally.

Photo credit Erin Rickard & Sean Puleston.

Things you need to know

You must be over the age of 18 years when this course starts.

Booking, Fees and Cancellation policy

To book a place on a course, please choose one of the following options:

• Book Online- the “Book online” button is either below, or in the top right corner of the screen and follow the instructions.

• Call the Courses Department on 01654 704 966 with your bank card details.

Please note: a £100 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your place.

The balance of the course fee is due 28 days before the start of the course.

Our course fees include full board accommodation, tuition and materials, unless otherwise stated.

Please also note our Cancellation & Refund Policy
a) The £100 deposit and 1 day course fees are non-refundable.
b) For courses of 2 days or more when you give us this notice of cancellation:
• 28 days or more – refund minus your £100 deposit.
• 8 to 27 days notice – refund minus your £100 deposit for sales of £200 or under. On sales over £200 - 50% refund.
• 7 days notice or under – no refund.
c) CAT reserves the right to cancel any courses. Deposits and fees will be returned in full should this happen.


Course Fees.

Start Date

Book Now!

Email courses@cat.org.uk
or phone 01654 704 966

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