These are couple of embroidered items made by my mother when she was in her teens. All hand stitched with amazing colours and details. My mother is now 75, the cataract in her eyes do not let thread a needle and her fingers are no longer nimble and active due to arthritis. Knowing how much I value her handiwork, she gave me many items- as have other relatives too.
I believed that my mother was not a creative person. Yet not only did she make these exquisite items but also all our clothes and underwear. We were poor and did not have the money to buy ‘ready made’ clothes. With remarkable ingenuity, she made the best of each length of cloth and left overs which she got as a special deal and re-purposed items of clothing we outgrew. I still have a blouse that used to be pyjamas once. My mother made use of every scrap of food too- we were a zero waste household long before this became a fashionable term. Couple of days ago, she told me that she had 15 tomatoes growing in her little container. How did she manage that when I have tried special seeds, fertiliser and pot and achieved not much? Her technique simply consisted of throwing ‘soft’ unusable tomatoes in the soil and watering it with water left from washing vegetables, using used tea leaves and other green waste for compost.
I used to think that creativity needed a studio, materials and time. My mother’s everyday creativity did not need any of these things. These were her everyday acts of creativity defying the lack of money and time, achieved in between bringing up three children on very little. I am humbled by her and ashamed that I did not realise this before. Let us celebrate the miracle of everyday creativity of people – we are all creative people!