Saturday, March 23, 2013
I like pom-poms. I'm pretty sure most people like pom-poms - they are round, soft, comforting, comical and fun. Most people I speak to learnt how to make pom-poms when they were children. Of late, I have become bloody sick of them. I can't turn the pages of an interiors magazine, scroll the design files or pass some trendy shop without seeing a cacophony of pom-pom madness. It has made me not want to love pom-poms.
However, I recently made this pom-pom for my Dad, to replace a one he had made himself when he was a little boy, that unfortunately was taken from him. His father was packing up the house to move back to England and wouldn't let my then 5-year-old Dad take the pom-pom with him. He remembers shouting "I want my pom-pom, I want my pom-pom!" and receiving a bit of a smack in return, from what I can imagine was my very stressed, product of the 1950s Grandfather, who was probably more concerned with culling the amount of luggage that was to go on the ship.
It may seem such a small thing, and I would hate for my Grandfather to be painted as a tyrant (anything but, he was pretty ace really). But that lack of interest, or importance placed on the act of creating something yourself, is what my dad (and no doubt many other boys and girls) missed out on. That's not anybody's fault, that's just how it was, particularly in that generation. But it has been a sharp reminder of how lucky I have been to receive the flip side of those attitudes.
All my life, my parents, but, particularly my father, have encouraged, if not pushed me to make things. They are stern with me if I get lazy, they praise me if I work hard. Every single exhibition, they have attended. While I was studying, I never wanted for any kind of art material - so long as it helped me better my education, develop skills or aid in research, they would do their best to help me get access to it. I believe some of the sacrifices Dad made (like getting a 'good', 'proper', 'solid' job) were to make way for me and my equally lucky sisters to make the choices we wanted to make, rather than what we felt we should have made.
So, I am taking the pom-pom back. Fancy magazines and interiors can continue to decorate with abandon, but for me, the act of pom-pommery (as I have decided to coin it) it represents being allowed to make, and what I worry that my own father missed out on. What every child should have access to. You don't need to be creative, or particularly skilled, just the have desire to make something yourself.
I know it's not the same as the 'magnificent multi-coloured' number my Dad made over 50 years ago, but I hope that it comforts and delights him like they do for me now - mainly because I was given the opportunity to make (and keep) such things. If you're feeling a bit flat, as many of us do at this time of year, go and make something for yourself. Don't concern yourself with how good it is, just enjoy the process, and whatever the result, own it.
p.s. Pretty good pun, my dad being actually being a Pom and all.