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Being in Flow...

I’ve spent my life trying to recapture synesthesia’s unique flow.

Imagine vibrant, billowing waves, wisps of smoke, silk, liquid, and oil. Shiny, sheer walls stretch and grow to a pinpoint peak, where achieving balance—even for a second—brings an unmatched exhilaration. Like looking into the abyss.

Now, picture a brilliant sunset, complete with soul-stirring music—then, in an instant, the view switches to a staggering… green?

It’s quite the experience!

Uninterrupted flow is an effortless, speeding race, like Star Trek’s starry ‘warp drive’. In short, synesthesia is fun.

I want to share the extraordinary nature of synesthesia with others, so I seek people and places that inspire the experience. I’d love for all people to enjoy the authentic, memorable, and emotional experience it brings.

Fellow synesthete, Billie Eilish, recently described how she was driven to stand among speeding cars to shoot her music video, giving it an authentic immediacy. Imagine the rush!

So many synesthetes try to share their flow experience for the same reason I do—it’s a joy everyone deserves to know.

“This is what we mean by Optimal Experience … what the sailor feels… when the wind whips through her hair….sails, hull, wind and sea humming a harmony that vibrates in the sailor’s veins. Optimal experience is something we make happen… a violinist mastering an intricate musical passage… an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist… (the music) just flows out by itself….” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, FLOW.

When performance is in flow, synesthesia arises. The two are inextricably linked.

But even now, it’s unusual to discuss synesthesia in public. Especially among children, it inspires bullies to rear their heads and label someone ‘weird’.

Thankfully, artists such as Prince Gyasi are speaking out—and it’s inspired me to do the same. It’s why I created the primary school program Colours of Home with Musica Viva in Schools. Normalising differences by sharing these unique experiences with others is vital.

Celia Craig and Casper Hawksley share the joy of synesthesia with students through their 'Colours of Home' program.

Highs and lows

I recently joined a synesthesia-themed Facebook group where I met friends, but also people who are miserable at work or with family. Their ‘speeding’ manic moments and parallel, low troughs become too much to bear.

This condition can be tiring, leading to overwhelming experiences and extreme emotions. A synesthetic brain is often linked with states such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), autism, and sensory overload.

But the highs stand out above all else—the joy, the creativity. Van Gogh, Messiaen, Scriabin, Lorde, Duke Ellington, and ‘visionary’ recording artist Pharell Williams all had or have chromesthesia, the linking of sound and colour. To see for yourself, have a look at Melissa Santamaria’s vibrant digital artworks—she encapsulates the experience perfectly.

Multisensory melodies

Chamber music performances are the best way to invoke synesthetic experiences. The clarity, harmony, and active flow of intimate settings are unmatched.

I’ll focus on flow with an elite group of musicians on May 17th, incorporating the dramatic and expressive dancing of Chloe Hurn, one of Australia’s top emerging talents. My group, with Thomas Marlin and Michael Ierace, is called Tarrawatta.

With such a tiny artistic company, each line and gesture bring space and flexibility to react to each other. Paired with a visually stunning and temporal art form—dance—we have created a unique performance that embodies flow and bespoke, artisan creation.

Thomas Marlin and Celia Craig rehearse together at North Adelaide Baroque Hall.

The incredible space of North Adelaide Baroque Hall will provide the ideal conditions for an optimal aesthetic experience—and maybe some members of our audience will experience chromesthesia themselves.

This intimate, boutique production will feed the senses, celebrating high performance and a world-class building gifted to our community. We’re truly lucky to have this bespoke chamber hall to enjoy—especially since local musicians haven’t had much good news over the last three years!

I invite you to join us at the next Exclusive Musical Soiree in the stunning hall. Enjoy quality catering, delicate wine from Hutton Vale Farm, and South Australia’s highest quality exquisite acoustic on May 17th, 2023. Tickets are available via Humanitix.

“I found that dance, music, and literature is how I made sense of the world... it pushed me to think of things bigger than life's daily routines... to think beyond…” - Mikhail Baryshnikov.

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