The Pursuit Of Eldership

Nick Clements

Over the last 60 years or so, I have been incredibly busy. Every sinew in my body has been contorted by my pursuit of purpose. I have lived an extreme, remarkable and fulfilling life. Here are some of the things I have been called, some of the jobs I have pursued:
Father, grandfather, storyteller, raconteur, ritualist, author, film-maker, community artist, disruptive innovator, mentor, elder, sage, initiator of the Men’s movement, showman shaman, friend, lover, entrepreneur, CEO, chairman, catalyst and so much more…

In retrospect, I have been able to pass through a series of rites of passage. Each rite has been different and has taught me powerful and transformative lessons. I am coming to the end of my life, and I am now confronted by the final rites – eldership and death. Quite remarkably, they are now exerting a contradictory new energy on me. Having spent my life pursuing achievements and purpose, I now realise that the next stage of my life is the opposite. Despite everything, in order for me to step into ‘eldership’ I have to give everything away, I have to down-size. In eldership we do this joyfully, I am throwing out physically, metaphorically, behaviourally, and spiritually any elements of ego, fear, manipulation, domestication and caution. By doing so I expose the underlying stratas of pure trust, forgiveness, faith and wildness. As an elder I behave completely differently. I cry, I grieve, I am uncertain, I am invisible, I am me. For the first time in a very long time, I am me. That is enough.




This is a quick statement about Nick Clements, to give you a flavour of what he does and who he is.


Having ‘failed academically at school’, Nick left home and hitched his way across Europe. Eventually he settled in Hannover, and quite remarkably he was employed as a teachers assistant for three years in a Children’s Home. As part of his remit he was able to help set up one of the first women’s refuges in Germany. In 1977 he was sacked, returned to London and undertook a Foundation Course at Barnet, and this led to a BA (Hons) in Fine Art at Cardiff Art College.

In 1981 he set up The Pioneers Art Group, an artists-led co-operative, based in Cardiff but working all over the UK and beyond. He took on the administrative chores whilst retaining his involvement in the art. The company had uniquely two teams, one working in areas of high social need, enabling local people to tell their stories through creativity. The other creating huge artworks in paint and mosaics as commissions, making some of the largest and most ambitious projects in the UK.

Despite the remarkable success of Pioneers for over 25 years, raising millions of pounds to employ over fifty, artists and craftspeople, Nick moved on in 2004, giving the company away. He then started to collaborate with artists from Valley and Vale Community Arts to deliver a unique work process ‘Person-Centred Creativity’ (PCC). This is used in a wide range of projects for groups and individuals with mild to medium mental health issues, depression, long term unemployed, to prisons and many other institutions. At the same time he is involved in delivering three day courses in PCC to health and social care professionals, encouraging them to include creativity in their care plans for clients.

He has published five books on creativity. In recognition of his work in the South Wales Valleys he was offered a Queens Honour which he turned down. But he accepted being made an Honorary Professor at Staffordshire University, and Visiting Professor at Warsaw University, Poland.


Concurrent to the creativity work Nick has been a leading light in the modern masculinity movement in the UK. He has been taught ritual and ceremony by indigenous people all over the world, and he uses these techniques to create up-to-date versions within our society. As part of this process he is also a collector and teller of stories, some of which are pre-historic, others about his present work.

He runs an informal mentoring and apprenticeship process, enabling younger men to live and learn with him. They may stay within the process for many years, or a few weeks, depending on their needs.

In 2006 he made a documentary film ‘Muratare – Circumcision’ with a semi nomadic tribe of the Samburu people in Northern Kenya, probably the only film in their language. This experience  features largely in the trilogy of books he has written on rites of passage. The last of which ‘The Alpha Wolf’ has become a popular guide for many hundreds of people.

The books support a wide ranging programme of workshops, talks and training, which are a response to the increasing demand for his work, and have recently featured on re-wilding, eldership and reconciliation between the genders.

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