This chair is titled Mr Curly and was “designed” by me in 1994, and manufactured by my friend Paul Hickey.
Paul was a master wicker worker, and I keep telling him that he should do something special as he was mostly making standard cane furniture and doing repairs.
So one day he got tired of my nagging and said if I did some designs, he would make them. So I did a couple of sketches to give him some ideas of what might be possible. I thought that he would come back to me for more details and measurements etc. However, within a couple of weeks or so, he turned up with this finished chair. It never occurred to me that he could build it from such a two-dimensional drawing. The design process usually is one of iteration, modifying the scale and relationships, so I expected lots of back and forth. At first, I was wow, that looks a bit odd, but he had made it precisely as I had drawn it. In some ways, it was a bit like those kids drawings that get make into 3D objects. But despite my initial shock, I grew to like it.
Possibly it reinforces the idea that sometimes the first idea is always the best, but more strongly supports the Design Thinking methodology of rapid prototyping.
The chair is a hat tip to the ever-talented Michael Luing.
When Nicholas was about nine, he made this paper and masking tape creature.
When I asked him what it was, he informed me it was just a funny winged thing with a red horn. Despite being a bit rough and ready, it has a certain charm to it that I have never noticed until studying it intently to do this watercolour.
What I love about painting it is that I could sense the free spirit that he approached in making it, yet in contrast, I choose to focus on creating a decent facsimile of it. Nicholas’s approach to making The Beast from the land of no right or wrong comes is a good lesson for me sometimes to approach my watercolours with a bit more abandon.
It is an excellent lesson for me and as the week progressed I tried to be looser were with my watercolours, which is more my natural style, but my inner critic rallies me to make it better because they will be published.
I asked my good friend retired architect and creative genius Graham Bligh the question, “What happens when creativity goes wrong”. He just looked at me with a quizzical expression. At first, I thought he had again left his hearing aids at home, but then he replied, “what do you mean, it can’t go wrong! It is all part and parcel of the creative process!”.
So the next day I painted a pair of my socks, and then made up a second pair. I tried hard to approach with a more illustrative style.
My father loved telling a story he heard on an interview with a man who had built a modest empire of tobacconist shops.
As a young man, he was down and out and applied for the position of Curate at St Patrick’s. The interview went well until he admitted he could neither read or write, so he didn’t get the job. Feeling dejected, he stood on the footpath leaning against the stone fence, rolled a cigarette, then realised that he didn’t have matches. He looked up and down the street and realised that there was nowhere to buy matches. So he had an idea, and he used what little money he had and bought a couple of packet of matches and started to sell them in the street. As time when by, he added tobacco and cigarettes, and then a little stall and eventually a small hole in the wall shop. From here he opened many shops and became a relatively wealthy man.
The interviewer remarked that was a fantastic story, and asked if the man wondered what he might have achieved had he not been illiterate?
“Of course, I would have been the Curate at St’ Pat’s.”
One church door closes, and another shop door opens! So often in life, we get disappointed when we don’t understand what we set out sights on, but often that can be a blessing in disguise. I think that today there are lots of projects, careers, business growth and adventures that people had planned, but are not going to happen in the near future.
On the last day last week, I posted a simple watercolour of buttons. I had intended something more complicated with a witty metaphor, but I had run out of steam. But I got this comment from old friend architect Robert Biscoe. I was touched that my simple illustration had struck a chord, and reminded me that it is always good to leave room for others to contribute creatively.
“My mother was born in 1928 and was an only child. She would have loved a sibling, but it wasn’t to be. She told me that she created an imaginary group of friends with a button collection. When I was growing up, she showed my sister and her wonderful jar of buttons. They ranged from simply blue round blouse buttons to rather large, complicated and regal looking buttons. I can imagine the range of button friends she mixed with. After my mother died in 2012, my wife, Marion, found a charity for children that was aiming to collect 1 million buttons. She forwarded off mum’s buttons. I hope they are playing with all their button friends now.”
From my week thinking about how creativity often turns out differently than we expected, I have made these observations.
- It is essential to trust the process and let things happen.
- There is no right or wrong in creativity.
- Leave space for others to collaborate on any creative project.
- Often things turn out different but better.