Thursday, 30 April 2015

Why I do these things

I am often asked why I make the things I do, especially as there is very little financial gain in it. I find it a difficult question to answer, as I know that this is the recognised way of determining worth in our society.  I think it might be simply because I get great pleasure out of making something beautiful. Beautiful things make me happy. My goal in life is to be happy.
There are other factors involved too. I relish a challenge, and enjoy the process of problem-solving to a successful resolution, which gives me a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. I like using my brain in this way. This is perhaps why I keep experimenting with different techniques and media. I'm also quite passionate about learning, then educating others about the many labour-intensive textile techniques perfected over the centuries which are so beautiful and which are at risk of dying out. Another wonderful advantage of working in textiles is that the process and materials themselves are also, usually, quite beautiful.
Often people question why I am not working in film or theatre costume departments, and my answer to this is that it is not always the fabulous pieces that are being worked on - there are a lot of hum-drum tasks involved of which I am all too aware.
I'm sure many of my works would be financially lucrative if I could reach the right audience. It takes a lot of work to do that, and I'm afraid I have been more drawn to creating things than marketing. Marketing is what makes people spend thousands of dollars on a 'designer' hand bag, yet hesitate to spend a few hundred dollars on an original hand-made item. I'll never understand how an item, replicated by the thousands in a factory, is perceived to be more valuable to the consumer than an original item designed and hand made by an artist. An original.  I know what I prefer.
 This is why I tend to place myself more as an artist than a fashion designer. I don't follow trends - I don't understand them. If something is beautiful, it is beautiful. What I make is more an expression of my ideas and an exploration of techniques than anything else.
Whilst I'm waxing philosophical, I'll discuss another part of my life. Pink hair. Every day, and I mean every day, someone will comment on it, more often than not saying "You're so brave to do that", and "I'd love to do that but I'm not brave enough/too old etc". This happened to me again yesterday, and I very nearly replied, very genuinely, 'Brave? The only thing about this that involves bravery is dealing with the number of weirdos that come up to me in car-parks and tell me how brave I am". (If they're not doing that, they're telling me about how they once had red/green/blue/purple hair. That's nice.)
Having had highly coloured hair on and off for over 20 years, I have experienced the whole gamut of reactions. Back in the 90's, people openly stared, pointed, and made fun of me. Why, I'm not sure. Now the reaction is wholly positive, with old and young commenting on how lovely it is. For those that don't vocalise and simply stare, I have to remind my companions that they are simply in awe. I always like to err on the side of the positive these days. I've never done it for attention. I do it because it makes me happy. You can't look in the mirror when you have pink hair and feel particularly glum. It's uplifting. That's why I do it.
Here are the pink lights I just bought to decorate my display at the Craft & Quilt Fair this year. Why? You guessed it.

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