Thursday, 9 July 2015

Transforming Homes into Creative Places

I have been taking pictures of a variety of creative works (other than our writing) that my son, Victor Rikowski and I have undertaken over the years.

Victor has always been very creative, from when he was a very young child of just 3 years old, when he drew a great picture of a duck!

There will be a number of blog entries on my ‘Serendipitous Moments’ blog showing samples of Victor's models, his embroidery, his book covers and his pictures.

Let's hope that there will be lots more to come from Victor during the years ahead!

Currently, Victor is playing guitar and singing at a nearby Open Mic session - but more about that, perhaps, on another occasion.

There will also be some blog entries with samples of my creative works. This will include samples of my embroidery, my crochet and my knitting. I find these creative outlets very relaxing, especially if they are accompanied by listening to music. Earlier this year, I watched the whole of Richard Wagner's 'Ring Cycle' (several times in fact!), whilst learning to crochet and making some crochet pieces. Now, that was certainly a big challenge that I set myself! But all very enriching.

Finally, there will be an entry for 2 of our books (one of Glenn's and one of mine), which Victor designed the covers for.

So, what inspired me to do all of this?

Well, a number of factors have all come together over the last few months for me. Over the years, I have created embroidery and knitting pieces, but this was largely done just for pleasure and helping me to relax. Then, this year, we had a lodger to stay with us who was a professional in knitware and crochet design - and she taught me how to crochet. So, that was great! And many thanks to her. 

This happened at the same time as we were visiting various galleries and museums (leading on from Glenn leaving his demanding lecturing position at the University of Northampton). I started viewing my dreams for a different and better world within this broader context. Now, William Morris really inspired me here. Morris was incredibly creative, but also became a socialist when he was around 50 years of age, as he hated all the inequality and poverty that he saw around him. He thought that people should be able to make their own creations and drape their houses in their own creative outlets, but of course, that is not largely possible for the poor. Morris was born into an extremely comfortable family (which became even richer), so he was very fortunate in that regard. I visited the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, where he lived as a teenager, which is near to where I live.  I was very moved by it all. The beautiful wallpaper, tapestries, prints, book covers etc etc. The other 2 homes where Morris lived - Red House and Kelmscott Manor, in Oxford are also both now museums and shows how he turned his homes into works of art. He wanted to go back into the medieval period (he was very inspired by that period, where people made creative products, from the beginning to the end of the process). Morris thought it would be wonderful if people could do more of that, and hated the industrial revolution, where things were going the other way entirely, with the sausage factory process, the breakdown of tasks and strict demarcation. But as he got older Morris realised that it was rather naïve of him to try to go backwards in this way, so instead, he moved forward and became a Socialist and read Marx’s ‘Capital’. So, he combined socialism with producing creative and artistic works. He even designed a beautiful book jacket for his copy of ‘Capital’.

This got me thinking about how nice it would be if I could adorn our home with more of our own creative works - rather than having shop stuff all over the place. You know, display Victor's ornaments prominently, for example, rather than shop bought ornaments. All very good for one’s soul! How much better off everyone would be if they could do that and were more at one with their creative side and their 'species being'.

Then, by coincidence, our youngest son Gregory, was working temporarily at the Leighton House Museum in High Street Kensington. Gregory fell in love with the museum. We had never heard of it before. I went to visit it and wow - I was amazed. Sir Frederick Leighton was a good artist in the Pre-Raphaelite period.  He was also the President of the Royal Academy of Arts. He turned his home (which is now the Leighton House Museum) into a work of art. He visited various places throughout the world, bringing back a selection of creative works, and adorning his home with them. In particular, upon entry into the museum, one quickly finds oneself in the Arabic Hall, which is a truly amazing room, with a little pond in the middle of it, and a piece from a mosque. There are samples of Iznic art and mosaics. I sat there for ages, looking around the hall, absorbing it - I was totally mesmerised and intoxicated by it all. Leighton and Morris were both part of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement and indeed, the wallpaper in Leighton’s bedroom is one of William Morris's wallpaper designs.

So, these 2 men turned their homes into works of art. Morris was an architecture as well, of course, so he could really see the process through from beginning to end.
He also ran his own firms in very worthy ways, aiming to involve his workers in the whole creative process in a non-exploitative way.

Thus, I too wanted to change our home a little; to change our home into a work of art in some small way. I have a long way to go (certainly compared to Morris and Leighton - well I will never reach their standards - don't have the money, apart from anything else), but I am enjoying what I am doing. And hopefully, it will provide some creative inspiration for us, and for our visitors, and help us to think about life differently. The blogs also include some items of clothing that I knitted.

To think, in a different way, of moving towards something beyond the capitalist, marketisation agenda, and where we are more at one with ourselves and our creative energies and where we can celebrate life more truly and healthily and wholly. Celebrate art and aim to recraft our homes in this way and to recreate life, in general, artistically in some way.

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