Gollee! I sneezed and 2010 disappeared … and what a year it’s been. Time was when only ‘old people’ complained about the speeding years, but I’m comforted by the fact that these days everyone seems to be having the same problem.
For me, it’s been really exciting and challenging and, as the year rolls round, it’s time to reflect on the many serendipitous events and chance (ah, but there’s no such thing as coincidence!) meetings that have occurred over such a short time and brought me to the happy place I find myself in.
I’ve never considered myself to be particularly arty or creative. OK, I could knit and crochet a bit and arrange the odd flower and wrap presents nicely – but that was about it. I found knitting particularly pleasant, but there are only so many jumpers you can wear and so this pastime took a back seat for a long, long time.
And then, as is the way with life, events took me by the scruff of the neck and gave me a good shaking. In the space of a few short months, my father died very suddenly, my mother decided to return to the UK to live with my sister and I descended into a depression that became, for me, a very comfortable place to be. For those who suffer from this condition, I need say no more. For those who live with us, you can only love and support us and try like hell to understand what’s happening.
My road to recovery started when I joined the local art group. I couldn’t – and can’t – paint for toffee, but it was a gloriously informal group where I could do little splodges, have lots of laughs and, best of all, totally forget that black dog on my shoulder and just play! Then came a very brief introduction to silk painting, and I was totally caught up in the magic of matching bright, bright colours with the wonderful medium that is silk. Out of this was born a real interest in silk in all its forms and so one day I ignored the call of the vacuum cleaner and just sat and googled anything and everything to do with silk on the computer. Eureka! What did I find but the wonderful recycled sari silk. The colours looked amazing, the story of the Nepalese refugee women scavenging the ends off the sari looms and converting the material into yarn captivated me … I just had to have some! After some more googling, I found a supplier and placed my first order … and spent the next few days in a lather of excitement and anticipation. Then came the glorious day when the card in the mail box told me my parcel had arrived and I sped on winged heels to collect it. Oh deep joy! I’d never seen colours like it or felt that incredible texture. Readers, my addiction was born!
At first the sari twist was pretty hard to handle and my fingers took a while to acclimatise to this strange new yarn. But within a very short time I’d made a bag and wherever I took it, I made new friends! In shops, I would sit my bag on the counter while I delved in it for my purse, and immediately it would become a conversation starter.
To cut a long ramble short, from that small beginning emerged a passion for recycled silk in all its forms – soft and supple, big and fuzzy and, the best of all, the wonderful sari ribbon. The ribbon skeins were magical, each one containing hundreds of colours and bits of glitter and stories. I could imagine the wonderful saris that had been fashioned from the fabrics and smell the musty, exotic smells of the faraway warehouses where the skeins had been stored.
From that time, life took a massive leap forward. I started to make more and more bags and, wonder of wonders, people actually wanted to buy them! With my creative bones getting stronger and stronger, I dipped my hands into freeform knitting and crochet, experimenting with ripped fabric and hand dying and ripping my own silk. Then came needle felting, using silk tops … and spinning and dyeing my own alpaca yarn. And all the time meeting wonderfully creative and generous people who felt exactly the same way I did. And all in just four short years.
I took my work to markets, shared space in a small shop and, another happy un-coincidence, was invited to be a featured artist in a prestigious local art exhibition. I learned about display and helped co-ordinate a very successful art/craft ‘experience’ for two years running. And all the time making new contacts, learning new things and just soaking up creativity like a big sponge!
Which brings me full circle to the present. Today, my life is happy and rewarding and filled with people and adventures. I may never completely lose that old black dog on my shoulder, but I can manage him much better and read the signs when he’s starting to get the upper hand – I may even knit him a little something!
I am fortunate to be one of the ‘makers’ at the wonderful Makers Workshop at Burnie in Tasmania. I have some of my pieces in various galleries and a small but very loyal group of fans who follow what I do and encourage and support me in every way possible.
To all those who long to do something, anything, that is creative but don’t have the courage – just give it a go! There’s no rule book, no such thing as a mistake … listen to your inner child and just play! Join a local group, you will be inspired and encouraged and from this first step you will take yourself on a huge new adventure – with no preconceived outcomes and no pressure to achieve. Just be and do. But above all, enjoy!
May the New Year see you embark on a whole new career. Close your eyes, jump into the void and know that something wonderful will catch you – go on, have a go!
1 December 2010