Baroness mainman John Baizley: "To love art is to love life"

An illustration of John Baizley drawing a picture
(Image: © Mark Rudolph)

It’s nearly impossible for me to tell when I started making art. My mother has photos of me as a very, very young child drawing and I haven’t ever really stopped since then – I’ve just focused my energies and refined my craftsmanship.

Art and music were always absolutely connected for me, interchangeable almost. I don’t think any of us who are driven to create are necessarily predisposed to visual arts, or music, or cinema, or anything else. I think if you have the drive to create you will find a medium that suits the philosophy by which you create and which lends itself to your natural abilities. But the drive, the fire, the impetus, is precisely the same for music and visual art.

I don’t speak for everyone, but I think that studying multiple disciplines can only benefit that which you’re primarily motivated to do. I take most of my inspirations from literature and the written word; I found that study only has a beneficial effect on my artistic output and I also find when you synchronise, say, art and music, it makes you feel the whole experience is enriched.

When it comes to the bus crash, I’m actually incredibly fortunate; if any detail of the accident had been different I could have been left without the use of my hands, or my eyes or anything else. The fact that I was left relatively intact and could create art and music the same way as the day before is pretty miraculous to me.

When I recovered well enough to come back home, I waited for a week just looking at my guitars and paintbrushes. I was terrified – I had this thought that the first thing I did, whatever it was, had to have this huge importance to me. That was a very wrong way of looking at things, because after spending almost two months recovering I wasn’t going to play or draw anything particularly well. So I had to do some warm-up exercises to prove the ability – and on a larger scale, the artistic impulse – wasn’t gone.

I found there was a recuperative satisfaction from the act of drawing, not even necessarily from the finished project. I could create and think quietly about what I’d been through and it wasn’t as bleak or dark as it would be otherwise. I realised that it had probably always helped me. All the demons I have are most easily put at bay through the creation of songs and art. I can pour the worst thoughts, feelings and ideas into it and I don’t have to struggle against them in other ways.

It’s surprising to me that I do what I do and call it a profession. I don’t think I’m any more or less gifted than anyone else out there. I think we all have the capacity to do exactly what I do. I’ve probably spent more hours behind an easel or an instrument than most people, but that’s all. We’ve all got the capacity to do it and I absolutely 100% think that if everyone embraced it, it could have a therapeutic effect and open up new perspectives. It definitely has for me, and it continues to do so.

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