I enjoy trying to be creative. I grew up learning practical needlecraft skills beside my mother who made practically everything for me, as well as herself, as I grew up. From the age of about eleven I started to make my own clothes. I would probably be embarrassed if I could see those efforts now, but it was an effective apprenticeship. Through my teens and twenties I made most of my own clothes. We were fortunate in having an excellent market every Friday with lots of stalls from the ‘Rag Trade’ in London, providing wide choices of fabrics at very reasonable prices. Some of my earliest memories are having a tiny doll and a small bundle of offcut fabrics on many Fridays. I would spend hours twiddling bits of fabric around the dolls to clothe them, make beds for them or hide them completely.
Later, as a college student, one of my courses involved fabric collage which opened new ways of creating with fabrics and threads. From time to time I still enjoy playing with fabrics, although I rarely make clothes for myself these days. The illustration is a collage of perfume bottles inspired by the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with perfume.
Many of the skills that I acquired from experimenting with fabrics transferred quite well to creative work in a classroom, such as putting together displays. I endeavoured to teach the children techniques, then allow them to use those skills in their own ways, to create a piece of work, rather than every child’s work being practically identical.
Poetry was another element of my growing years. My mother had a liking for poetry and liked to read poems aloud. She would often encourage me to learn poems and recite them, teaching me how to use my voice for emphasis and clarity. This led to me being called upon to recite for church anniversaries, and concerts in the church we attended, as well as a chapel in my mother’s home village in South Wales where we spent quite a few weeks each year. Dad was less enthusiastic about poetry, but would make up silly ditties, especially when bored – a trait I seem to have inherited to some degree! It was a useful skill in school for putting new words to known tunes to fit the work that was the focus at any given time, or to sing to parents after a school visit when it was our class’s turn to lead assembly.
From time to time I endeavour to put words together in more serious ways, that convey a feeling, an emotion or an experience. The results vary, and I rarely share the outcomes, but I enjoy the challenge of trying.
All these learning experiences built on previous knowledge. It is often said that it is only when we look back on our lives that we can see how different events and happenings have formed us. These past months have given much opportunity for reflection. Many of the skills I acquired over the years have adapted again to fill the days of lockdown. I have sought to keep a freshness in the communications for Methodist Women, and also balance a desire to encourage an optimistic view with the realities of restrictions. There is now hope of more freedom on the horizon. It will come. I hope we will retain some positives from our reflections, and look to the future with an eye to creativity. There are so many possibilities to apply creative thinking – an enrichment for our lives.