What's memory got to do with it? Remembering childhood creating by Jan Allsopp

What’s memory got to do with it?

Tiny plastic nodding head bambi

I had such a wonderful childhood. I just love revisiting my memories of warm golden sunshine while I played and created. My whole body recalls the feelings of bliss and immersion in doing something I just loved.

I had such a wonderful childhood, or at least that’s what I tell myself. When I think about it, the things I remember in this way are all when I was alone and creating. I created whole worlds for games, transformed odd bits and pieces into wildly wonderful objects and voraciously devoured anything instructional about making.

So was my childhood actually so wonderful? Does it matter?

Now when I think back over the last year, some of my most joyful memories are of being in the stage of painting where my ideas are still bubbling furiously with the heat of new inspiration, and the actuality of painting hasn’t yet covered and arrested them completely in dried acrylic. That is the target for me. I shoot for that feeling of joyous possibility and I try to leave it still showing when a painting is finished.

I still have this precious object from that time in my childhood when I thought my heart would burst with love for such a delicate tiny animal. It didn’t really matter if it was real, it was magically real to me.

My dad's vice

It sits near the entrance to my studio. Sometimes, most times, I don’t even notice it. Then others, like today when the weather is finally shifting to penetrating warmth I take time to notice.

I want to embody that remembered child, her passions, her exponential creating and her limitless ideas. I never thought, or believed that there was something I couldn’t make. I remember the profound disappointment when what I made didn’t live up to my envisaged outcome. But it was short lived because I was back into making something else, a new cubby house, a mansion in a gully and a gum tree, or something I would need my father’s vice for. I loved using his vice in his garage. I thought I could make anything if I used his vice.

What can I learn from this digression into memory? Has it sprung up today for a reason?

Old bristle cobweb brush

I guess so. I think it is partly because I’m about to test out my secret weapon, this wooden handled bristle cobweb brush that was old when I was born. Somehow it was always kept even though the later plastic versions with extension handles were the weapon of choice for most of my life. And here it is, in my studio along with many other things from that childhood era that echoes in me today.

I’m finally getting around to giving it a cleanup and a test out. I’m pretty excited to see what it can do. Can it apply paint? I hope it does a better job of it than it did of removing cobwebs.

Comments 2

  1. What Beautiful memories Jan!
    I had a horrendous, abusive childhood.
    However I have moved forward in life to find beauty in each and every day. I find happiness in so many wonderful things I see. I love your group.

    1. Post

      Thanks Clare. They are such precious memories and much stronger than the negative ones thankfully. I tried to hint that my happy childhood may have been inclusive of other memories but these are the ones I choose to honour. I know I’m lucky to have them.

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