What ignited my creative spark?

Christmas 1997 - Me and Grandma Russell

Christmas 1997 – Me and Grandma Russell

It was more a case of ‘Who’ than ‘What’ ignited my creative spark? Being the grand-daughter of the late Joan Russell, that’s what! Grandma was a consistent creative role model throughout my entire life, until 7 years ago when she left this world. Aquarian born like myself, she had a flair for design and new ideas. She excelled in poetry, writing stories, painting, drawing, illustration, fashion design and construction and all the craft trades under the sun; specifically silk ribbon embroidery and lace work.  My love of illustration began before I even started school, when she would assign me to the task of drawing or painting the pictures of a story she had written. I remember one of these stories vividly; of the vacumn cleaner that came to life and tidied the house all on it’s own before the family came home that day.  I took on this task very studiously and together we created a book that immortalized one of the most influential factors of my creative upbringing. Since these early days, I have always taken colour to paper and picked up a needle or pen as a natural extension of my own hand. In my teenage years, I spent many hours sitting at Grandma’s dining table. We would share our poems and stories over a couple of pots of tea.  She would ensure that she always had a stash of home baked treats (of which scones were my favourite) awaiting for my after school arrival.  My poems would have a new refreshing light cast upon them.  My heart would be soothed from pains and tribulations of dating boys.  My unsuccessful sewing projects would transform into magnificent creations under her watchful eye. My baking skills improved as I came to learn how therapeutic the smell of home baking was. My love of strong tea was established (even though Grandma would cringe every time she saw me adding milk and sugar). These memories are so deeply etched into my mind, that to this day, I can still hear her voice over my shoulder as I work. I will hear words of encouragement and acceptance or disdain if I failed to unpick that dodgy seam I just made in my sons new trousers.  It just occurred to me that she might be the reason for my needing to be meticulous when it comes to creating things. Ah, I need to let that go in this world of creative exploration. Regardless, I’m sure she would be proud. Here’s to you Grandma – a tribute!


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