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Meet a man on a mission to light all our creative fires

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 25, 2013

  • Jamie Catto, with his partner Raisa Breslava in the background

  • Filming in India for his award-winning What About Me?

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Jackie Butler discovers the positive force of musician and film-maker Jamie Catto.

How many times have you had what you reckon is a brilliant idea, then allowed it to wither and fade without ever attempting to develop it?

I do it all the time; my journey is littered with all kinds of bright sparks of unrealised potential, from the whimsical to the life-changing. If only I had the time, the focus, the guidance and the encouragement, I have mused all too often.

Enter Jamie Catto, a man on a mission to help us all achieve our creative goals. To that end he is heading for Totnes in Devon next weekend – one of his favourite parts of the world – with his renowned What About You? course.

It's basically all about extracting your ideas and projects from your head and launching them into the real world – whether that's a new business or a fresh attitude to love.

"Help is at hand," he declares.

Jamie describes it as a workshop for people who, like me, don't really like workshops, which immediately adds to its appeal. It's pretty much unscripted too, shaping itself around the people who come to ensure they all walk out feeling energised.

"And there is mostly laughter on our weekends; it's fun and playful," he explains.

The foundation for Jamie's philosophies is that we all tend to shut down into the 20 per cent of ourselves that is deemed appropriate.

"We become approval-addicted from childhood and that makes us edit ourselves down into crippled people," he explains.

In his project-building masterclass he aims to open up a place that is 100 per cent inspired and empowered.

"No masterpieces ever came out of the 20 per cent. I'm giving out a weekend permission slip for people to lighten up and get real," he says.

So, what qualifies this forthright, down-to-earth, enthusiastic man to make such promises? Well, Jamie's roots actually lie in making music as founder member and singer with dance music stars Faithless, who have sold millions of records over the last 20 years. He has also acted as the group's art and video director, a role that led to his first award-winning global philosophy and music film project, the beautiful 1 Giant Leap.

His latest movie and album, What About Me? released in 2009, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Red Rock Film Festival, and has inspired his workshops.

He cites Ram Dass, the American contemporary spiritual teacher and author of the seminal 1971 book Be Here Now, as a personal inspiration.

Meeting and laughing with people from all walks of life is a great joy for Jamie, although he does have many celebrity supporters.

Stephen Fry, for example, raves about him: "Jamie Catto is kind, wise, open, boundlessly energetic, optimistic and passionate. His musical skills – whilst formidable – are trumped by his remarkable ability to light fires under otherwise reluctant people. I adore him."

He tends to work in areas where there are a lot of creative people – New York, Amsterdam, Brighton, Bristol – and now Totnes.

"Places where people are creative but skint," laughs Jamie, who has a suggested donation for his workshops, but doesn't turn away people who can't afford it.

"You don't get the proof until you jump off the edge..."

What About You? workshop takes place at Chapel House Studios, Totnes, on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3. For more details visit www.jamiecatto.com/workshops.

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