Every Friday you have the pleasure of being acquainted with a whole bunch of amazingly talented people. I’ve asked an array of creative souls to answer a handful of questions to give you an insight to their colourful life and to fill you with inspiration for your weekend!
This Creative Friend Friday we get to meet Claire Hamilton – a hypnotic hula hoop enthusiast based in Barcelona.
What you do is such a good example of showing how diverse that creativity can be! Tell us more about this circular passion of yours and how it all started..
Muchas gracias guapa! My journey began in 2013 when I realised that going to the gym, running outside or doing a repetitive at home exercise routine was just not for me. I remember mastering the hula technique when I was a kid so I bought a huge, heavy hoop and started practicing around my waist in the garden for about 20-30 minutes most evenings. It became apparent quite quickly that this was the most enjoyable exercise I’d ever experienced, I quickly found YouTube videos of other hoopers doing mind-blowing tricks and I just had to know them all!
I quickly built up a range of skills and started having fun putting it all together, performances were becoming a regular thing and I really started to invest my time into costume making, hoop making and learning new skills, such as multiple hoop tricks and fire hooping.
What is your inspiration? Have any personal experiences influenced your creativity?
I’ve always been creative in some way, I won art competitions as a child, regularly wrote, cooked, learned to make my own clothes, and did a degree in visual arts, so I have always found inspiration from various sources and expressed it in a number of ways. I’m not sure if it has been any one particular thing that has influenced me, but generally speaking, it’s the culmination of experiences and emotions that drives us to explore the world around us, I believe it is exactly this that inspires anyone to do anything, the notion of finding out something new. I believe it is all of our personal experiences that influence our creativity.
But I do have to say that meeting a talented and motivated group of spinners has pushed my hoop journey immensely. I’ve been given the best advice and been offered opportunities I couldn’t have imagined taking thanks to those people, they are a huge part of my inspiration.
When was the first time that you realised you are a creative person?
The Tunnicliffe Art Competition was probably the first time I received any major recognition for being creative, but I was only 5! I always enjoyed making things, I built various things as a child, I would spend hours in the garage with my Dad learning how to use his tools, my final degree piece was a 6ft screw made of wood, plaster and wrapped with wool, so my entire life has been focused around bringing new things into the world. And manually, I have a real attraction to anything hand-made and generally prefer to make things in the traditional way as opposed to using new-fangled technologies.
I guess my creativity has evolved and now I spend more time building hoops as opposed to sculptures, but I still have the same attitude and dedication towards the things I create, I love doing it, I love the processes, the challenges; why would I want to do anything else?!
Do you ever find yourself limited by the materials that you have available?
I’m always looking for new ways of hooping and for cool new materials to design hoops with. Hoops have come a long way in the last 10 years and there are many impressive tubing colours, tapes & LED designs floating around nowadays. I have a lot of great material around me and I’ve stocked my shop ready for custom orders! But I’m always on the lookout for unusual material to create unique and eye-catching hoops.
What do you intend to achieve through your work?
I started hooping to do something positive for myself, I do not really have any plans to try and change the world with a piece of round plastic, but it would be nice to share my circle of joy with as many people as possible and to continue feeling a sense of achievement every time I pick it up.
If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?
One thing I’ve learned about myself through hooping is that I appreciate the time I spend playing with my favourite toy, I really do feel like a child sometimes! It would be humbling to see more people using their free time to do something that brings them joy, to restore the balance of a stressful adult life; how many times do you hear people saying they don’t have time to do the things they love because they have too much work to do?!
So how have you been spreading the hoop love?
I’ve just started teaching in Barcelona after settling here just under a year ago. Things are just taking off right now but I’m really looking forward to teaching some of the jam packed fitness and skills classes I’ve been designing over winter as well as building up a community of hoopers so we can choreograph routines and start performing here! You can find more information about this on my website.
Thinking about your own creative works or those of others, what is your own definition of creativity?
It’s expressing those unique moments where we put things together in a new way, finding our own solution for something that doesn’t make sense. We can have moments of creativity all the time, and then sometimes not for vast periods of time; but the important thing to remember is that if the willingness to create is there, it is unlikely to ever go away. We all have patches where things don’t fit together or flow as easily, but a creative mind will always find a way to get things going again!
Do you have skills that you wish to develop or talents you wish to perfect?
Of course! Your skill is a constant learning journey, there’s always a way to push yourself further or to broaden your scope. For me, I would love to combine more of my other creative interests with hooping, I want to take more pictures and really get creative with the camera..it’s a shame I can’t be on both sides of the lens!
New hoop designs are also always on my mind, as well as costumes, routines and fire tricks but what I would really love to focus on this year is to improve my flexibility and balance, I’m getting really close to achieving some impressive acrobatic moves that I dying to include in my choreography.
What piece of work or performance are you most proud of?
It’s difficult not to say the performance I was part of at Burning Man 2015! It is definitely the most exciting performance to date, not only because of the prestigious nature of the event, but because it was the biggest opportunity and privilege I have had since picking up a hoop. The pressure was immense, it was freezing and our practice runs had been wildly interrupted by dust storms! But we nailed it, we performed a successful, home-grown fire show and I had yet to feel so proud to be involved in something so strong.
What advice would you give to other people who are motivated to become more creative?
I believe that the main thing that holds people back from doing anything is fear, I have been restricted by fear so many times throughout my life and as you get older you start to realise that driving your life under the influence of fear hurts no-one but yourself.
My main piece of advice is to remember that it is NEVER too late – just look at Greta Pontarelli, she started pole dancing at 59 years old and is absolutely killing it!
Now we all know who our ‘go to’ hula hoop girl is we better get our orders in! All details are on her website. If you are lucky enough to visit the amazing city of Barcelona I can tell you from first hand experience what a great teacher she is! The fact that the lessons are by the beach are just a bonus! Follow Claire on Facebook for her updates on classes and hula sales.