This weekend I had a look around an impromptu art gallery that was showing paintings in an old, victorian swimming pool (this much loved pool is sadly being turned into a library and this was our last chance to have a look around). The exhibiting artists had even added bleach to the tiles to create that nostalgic swimming pool smell! Anyway, there amongst the paintings was a quote – ‘There is no such thing as rubbish, only raw material.’ As far as I’m concerned, never a truer word was spoken.
I am writing a series of stories about the way children use their imagination to transform the ‘ordinary’ into the ‘extraordinary’ for example, in my first story, Evangelina plays with a load of dusty old shoes and creates a whole imaginary zoo for herself! Whist gathering ideas and reference for my stories, I go to charity shops whenever I can – lots of charity shops – everywhere – smelly ones, posh ones and now the ‘retro’ shops, which just charge more for the same old junk!
Going up to the counter with handfuls of crazy looking shoes can be a rather uncomfortable experience. The shoes have ranged from diving flippers, to raggedy slippers, to size 10 crocodile shoes and this does tend to raise an eyebrow. In these situations, I have found myself trying to explain that I’m not actually going to wear the shoes – I’m going to paint them. This explanation usually serves to make the matter worse and I just try to leave the shop as soon as possible.
I do love that sense of excitement, though, when I see that perfect piece of junk. I’m still visiting charity shops for inspiration but finding space for this strange and growing collection is not easy. The space under my bed is now completely full and a new stock of ‘raw material’ is now accumulating in the bottom of my husband’s wardrobe, although I don’t think he’s noticed yet…