09/03/2011 by Sarah Ritchie
When I was a child I wasn’t so much of a “girlie girl”. You would be far more likely to find me playing soccer with my boy cousins, or rollerskating, than having a tea party with my toys.
However, one girlish pastime I indulged in was playing with my Barbie dolls. I would spend hours lost in my world of imagination and play.
We didn’t have much money in those days – certainly no disposable income to spend on expensive Barbie clothes and accessories. Not content for my Barbie dolls to do without, my imagination took over instead. If you think hard enough you can see pint-sized possibilities in everyday objects. My wardrobe became the Barbie mansion – bigger than any Barbie house that could be found on the shop shelf. A few twists of the odd piece of material would make an equisite gown. Colourful sewing pins – if you pushed them into Barbie’s ears – would make fine jewelled studs. Matchboxes became footstools or side tables. Sometimes looking outside of the house rewarded futher delights for my Barbie empire.
As I was walking our dog this morning (which is, coincidentally, Barbie’s birthday…launched this day in 1959!) I stopped to look at a pile of acorns that had fallen to the ground. There, sure enough, was a little cap (cupule) that connects the acorn to the branch. Most people would look at the little cap as though it was merely another part of the oak tree, which will drop off and be forgotten until this time next year. To me, every time I see one of those little caps – even as an adult – my first thought goes to the fact that the little cap makes a PERFECT bowl for a Barbie doll.
Imagination is such a wonderful thing – so evident in a child, and yet not quite so overtly evident in an adult. I feel, for myself, I have lost so much of the imagination that I had as a child, when I my world revolved around invention, dreaming and playing. It is as if time and sensibility has squished those things out of me.
In my artistic endeavours I am struggling to recapture the imagination of childhood. It’s not just a case of trying to come up with a “good idea”. It’s coming up with a creative, imaginative, unusual, different, out of the box idea. Even if that means taking an everyday subject and presenting it in an imaginative way.
I want to be able to look again at an acorn cap and see a Barbie bowl; or look at an object and see a concept; or look at things and see them not as they are but as they could be. What is the secret to cultivating imagination? If I find out, I will let you know. If you know…please tell me!