As I was drinking coffee in the church hall after the service this morning, I was struck by a big wall display on ‘Space’ which had been created by the nursery that uses the building during the week. The background had been painted black and covered with stars and then the children had stuck their own creations all over it: there were aliens with 27 legs and one eye, marbled planets, aliens in family groups and a big sun covered with scrunched up balls of tissue paper in vibrant oranges, reds and yellows. I particularly loved the stars in this photo as they reminded me of craft projects I’d done as a child. I just love the exuberance and liveliness of them, but can already feel with the star on the left that the child is beginning to learn that restraint and balance and order is considered a good thing.
Today I want to learn from the star on the right. I want to explore making things because it feels great to get covered in glue and mess. I want to remember that it’s fun to eat sweets and scrumple up the cellophane and stick it down because it makes a great noise and it sparkles. I want to bung black in there too even though I know stars are meant to be bright colours. I want my collage to go over the edges so the shape is no longer clear. And I particularly want to stick on random stringy bits of paper which hang off the edges, just because I feel like it.
As I am struck by the longing to regain the spontaneity of childhood, I remember Picasso’s comment: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
At the beginning of October I went for a walk in the woods when the leaves were just beginning to fall. I don’t know why I did it, but I caught a leaf as it fell from a tree and then pierced it on a little twiggy stem of wood sticking out of a tall silver birch. I looked carefully round the wood to remember where the tree was and every so often over the last six months I’ve gone back to check whether or not it’s still there. This afternoon I went back again and my small, fragile, dried-out brown leaf is still there.
I realise it sounds daft, but I actually care about that. We have had horrendous storms here over the last six months. It has rained in torrents and the wind has been so fierce that many other trees in the wood are now uprooted and falling over one another. There’s been all that chaotic, powerful weather and yet my little leaf has been held onto by that tree, been sheltered and protected and kept safe.
I love that it is being held rather than that it is clinging on.