I was born into a line of creative people. It’s a family that values and shares and supports creativity and there are many of us, spanning generations, exploring all kinds of arts related pursuits in many forms.
My father has expressed his artistic self with visual arts and music all his life, and one of the things I love most about him is what one might call “creative industriousness.” He likes to find creative solutions to little problems and tasks using available implements and recycled materials. Whenever he would visit us at our old house in Windsor he would go around and fix and patch up and repair, and after he left there was always a warm pleasure and satisfaction in at least one small thing looking or functioning better.
My dad’s workshops are stocked with implements and tools collected over a lifetime, and in other peoples’ lifetimes. When he inherited the shed and workshop that went with the cottage he bought on the island, he got with it a world of items and mementos and tools collected by the previous owner Kathleen. For anyone with the mildest interest in history (and love of workshops and studios like me), that workshop is a treasure. Dad spends parts of every day out there in spring and summer, listening to CBC Radio One and working on any number of creative projects.
Like his model ships – an ongoing endeavour. The project began with a detailed prefab model given to him to assemble by a friend some years ago, and now he plans them and handcrafts them from his own design and materials, based on pictures and archival data he digs up. It’s a patient, detailed process, taking a season or a year to complete one ship. Many of the tiny details on his ships are crafted from items we overlook and pitch out in the daily scheme of things.
And then there are the birdhouses, my stepmother Julie’s project with her pal Jan: “Bent Nail Productions.” Dad builds the structures, again recycling materials at hand, and Julie and Jan embellish and sell them.
My dad gets industriously creative in the old cottage gardens, where he plants marigolds and splits perennials and restarts old geraniums from year to year and grows snap peas just for the pleasure of eating them raw.
Dad gives little kids drawing tips and lessons on creating perspective on a page. For me he’s tackled fixing almost anything, even plumbing, which he does not enjoy but he does it because he can. Dad gets great satisfaction from creating things with his hands, finishing them with uncompromised care and meticulousness the rest of us can barely comprehend. And he puts his own creative stamp on every iced cake served at family events.
My father appreciates individuality and old things and beauty, and all my life he’s been my creative inspiration. Of my favourite places to be in the world are with him in his creative spaces. I feel lucky that I’ve inherited his artistic perspective, and for many reasons more than that, I’m glad I get to be his daughter.