People often ask me where I get my creativity from and I really do have to blame the parents.
Growing up in the 70s,
Dad with his long hair and Mum with her bouffant do, we didn’t have a lot of money. Both my parents were born just after the 2nd World War had finished, so they were brought up when the ‘make do and mend’ mentality was still strong which stayed with them in their early married life. If you couldn’t afford it, then you simply didn’t have it -no credit for them. Despite this, my Mum and Dad would always make sure we had everything we needed but it was usually fashioned out of a scrap of wood or old metal pipe – if Dad could make it, then he would. We had a whole adventure play ground in the garden that he made from recycled wood and the coolest Wendy house, with a proper window, door, carpet and curtains – the stuff that childhood memories are made of. Until the age of four, we lived in a small cottage on Bradley Hill and had a kind of ‘small holding’. We were very much the Good Life family, with a successful veggie patch, a dog, cat, three goats, chickens and rabbits. I was often found in with the chickens, ‘being creative’ making them my speciality mud pies for their ‘lunch’ or tying a string lead around their necks and taking them for a ‘walk’.
I remember every year, my Mum would make my Gran a set of pretty ‘pinnys’ for Christmas and we would go shopping for fabric to Gordon Thoday’s haberdashery in Gloucester. It was a treasure trove of colour and pattern, all displayed on huge rolls. I loved it there. She would let me choose the fabric and would make them up into simple aprons that my Gran would wear for the whole year, until it was Christmas again, then Mum would make her some more. While at the fabric shop, Mum would also pick up cheap fabric for my brother and me – dressing us in some ‘interesting’ combinations. It was pretty clear that my Mum was the Queen of Coordination – even her children matched each other.
c.1975 (Sorry Steve)
As a child, I can remember Mum always clacking away with her knitting needles and I wore some amazingly complicated ‘cable knit’ cardys that she had knitted. Again, there were trips to the wool shop in Lydney, where huge shelves were filled with balls of coloured wool, beautifully displayed to entice the knitters to part with their cash. She taught me to knit and I was very proud of an array of knitted animals I’d made following a simple pattern. I was always making outfits for my dolls and teddies, which developed into a love of fashion design when I was in my late teens. I would design a dress, buy the fabric, then Mum would run it up on her trusty Necci sewing machine into a cool, totally individual outfit you couldn’t buy in Chelsea Girl or C&A.
I have many more happy memories of my childhood that I could share but I’ll save those for another blog. Looking back, I don’t think there’s been any one thing in particular that has inspired my creativity, it’s definitely been the sum of many parts, but my love of colour, items that match and all things handmade have definitely been influenced by my creative parents.