Monkey-face is teething and simultaneously cranky.Getting her to bed last night was particularly challenging and it wasnt much easier this morning. After scooping her up, she calmed down when I read her The Snail and the Whale Again. The rhyme and language are so soothing, I love the power a book has over her and the impact upon our relationship. The ask and answer. We’re seeking to understand each other, to question,validate, joke and soothe. (“Daddy hurt? Kiss it better”)
The connection being built has inspired me to write, to read and latterly to think of creating something for Monkey-face herself by myself. But of what to write? The question has puzzled me whenever I have thought of it.
Today was a beautiful sky-blue cloudless day, with aeroplanes drawing pristine chalk lines across it. Having dropped Monkey-face at her Childminder, I found myself assaulted by technicolour images, the likes of which are either not ordinarily as beautiful or my recent creative awakening has opened my eyes to terraces of multicoloured sherbets and coal-black crows sitting on flame-hued branches. I wished she was with me or that my camera was. Whilst I was walking home, I was struck by a home-made book idea and immediately began thinking of images and how to achieve them. I was good at drawing when younger. Was I still, 20+years later?
Much later, I dropped into my local Kirkdale Books for a kids’ book retail fix. (Once upon a lifetime, before childcare ate half of my salary, I thought nothing of owning 50 bottles of perfume and buying CDs/Books and DVDs twice because I forgot I already owned them. Now my current fix is children’s books. Which is fortunate because they average £5.99. It is a widely held belief that there is a proven link between the collapse of GDP and the birth of Monkey-face. Could be.) I’m consistently astonished and inspired by the creativity apparent in children’s books and my purchases today were jaw-dropping. I picked up In the Attic- a fantastic Japanese book about a child’s imagination ; Beegu – gorgeously drawn story of a little lost alien lost among big people;There are No Cats in this Book – hilarious paper art about cats trying to get out of the book that was as catnip to my little person; Dogs Love Books – a bookshop owning dog with no customers and Up In The Tree about two children who love living in a tree until their ladder goes and they start to miss life on the ground!
The last of these books was unlike anything I had seen. By Margaret Atwood, it is beautiful and simple and yet gorgeously executed. It wasnt until I got home that I read that the book had been created in 1975. Its artwork and lettering were hand-completed due to funds and the book’s colour story: 3 colours) selected out of necessity to keep costs down.
It was a coincidence that I had felt held back by my lack of formal training, time and funds only a little while earlier only to pick up a book executed within the same limitations. Now I felt that Up In the Tree was so beautiful possibly because of the author’s constraints.
It made me worry about our belief in talent and focus and possibility. Ultimately,dont we succeed in spite of our limitations? Perhaps our limitations filter out the “nice to haves” that stand to confuse us on our life’s path. Were resources no problem, perhaps we would be robbed of purpose, passion and resilience which certainly filter life from art. Meagre resources give us the opportunity to filter out the smorgasbord of possibilities and make us listen to what passions drive us: those things in life we absolutely have to achieve by hook or by crook in order to be fulfilled
For my dad, who stayed up evey night for more than a decade to create the life he wanted