Saturday, April 16, 2011

Creativity within limits

Sometimes the limitations of time and/or funds can be a great motivator for me. I'm not saying that I necessarily believe every artist should constantly struggle to survive. But I am noticing that limits do not always quash creativity and, in fact, sometimes an imposed limitation can be a wonderful motivator. This past few days, while I visited home (as I work in a remote city), I have very little time to spare. Somehow, in a few short hours, I needed to completely transform a room for a visitor who is coming all the way from India to visit. The room was in a terrible state with holes in the walls, half stripped layers of wallpaper, and a general mess. We had been using as a place to hang laundry and also a dumping ground for this and that. So first things first; I packed up the papers and mobiles and odds and ends into a large tub. The electrical in that room has never been upgraded and the light switch is not working. So I found a lamp in the basement, which need some kind of mount.... a long gone piece of hardware. As I didn't have time to chase down a piece of hardware which, from my knowledge might not even exist, I set out thinking about how to mount this lamp onto the wall. I settled on the window frame, since it's very difficult to find studs in the hundred year old walls. I found an old silver bracelet, hammered it flat and used it as a decorative yet functional piece of hardware to secure the lamp onto the wood frame. I then examined the walls. We had begun to strip the wallpaper but it became clear, after six or seven layers of wallpaper, that if I kept going, the plaster would begin to fall out of the wall. As the wallpaper was holding it all in. Also, I became fascinated with the antique, muted colours of the final layers of wallpaper. Most of it became damaged of course, in the stripping process but in the end, I couldn't decide whether to leave it up in bits and pieces of take it down. In the end, because of time, it's staying. And once I found a few hand painted photographs I had picked up at the Salvation Army and hung them on the wall above the dresser, the room began to have a warm and inviting feel to it, in spite of the damaged walls. I also hung one of my quilts on the far wall, the one with the most holes in it. In less than an hour, the rooms was transformed and all the while I was whistling while I worked... metaphorically that is.

I could have fretted for days or even weeks about that room. But because I didn't have time to fret, I found myself inspired. How can I transfer that same 'do-it-on-a-dime' attitude in other ways in my life? How can I take a sow's ear and turn it into a silk purse? Perhaps just by taking a second look and maybe finding a bit of beauty in something worn and old.


  1. the room looks lovely mother, I'm glad your keeping the wall paper. I'm definitely going to have to see how you mounted that lamp next time I'm home.

  2. It's a mother of pearl silver bracelet that I hammered flat. It's a nice detail... I look forward to seeing your 'red shoes' blog entry.