I was reading one of my favourite blogs the other day - The Age Of Uncertainty - when I was reminded of my early struggles with crafting. The blogger, Lord Steerforth, a youthful purveyor of old books and interesting thoughts, had written a post about the contents of a 1960s children's compendium of ideas for creative activities. I have one of my own, see above, given to me one Christmas in the 1950s by Granny N (not by Santa, I gave him up when I was 3 after seeing one jolly chap in red outside Woolworth's and then another Yo-ho-ho-ing by a nearby toyshop. Logic told me that this was fishy and destroyed my infant faith in a flash.)
My own book could easily have wiped out any budding creative streak with its quaintly antiquated ideas...
These ideas were more like the things Granny would have had fun with in 1910 and not really suitable for a 5 year old living in post Festival of Britain England!
Neither Granny nor Mummy threaded bebe ribbon through their undies in the '50s, not to mention the fact that our house was far too modest to have a "distant room"
Here is the idea that turned me from making things to other activities, at least for a while. I made "A", the "bedstead", for my doll's house - it was very easy, but looked rubbishy & gave me no sense of achievement at all. The book was put back on the shelves, to be used occasionally for pressing flowers.
Lord Steerforth's book dated from early in the next decade and was illustrated with photographs, not simple line-drawings, but he was bemused by the ideas it contained - were we really entertained by making newspaper trees, for example?
Well, as it turned out for me, we were. In late 1960s Kent we art students made a giant rolled newspaper tree, as tall as a house - then we set it alight and danced round it as it burned! We called it a Happening. By this we meant it was a spontaneous visual spectacle with no audience, only performers. I remember another such event involving the basement at college, filled with unfamiliar objects and textures. It was completely dark, to be entered and experienced by touch alone. (Only now do I wonder if these activities were created by our tutors for their own amusement.)
Some Art involving jam...
...and an early soft play area - or is this Art too?