Mother's Day 2016
As our way of celebrating Mother's Day, we have delved into our family histories to explore the creative talent of our mothers or grandmothers and even great great grandmothers! Here's our little treasure trove.
My paternal grandmother 'Oma' was born in 1896 and learnt to crochet staying with her cousin in Ireland. Oma's husband was an artist and her sister was the rather flamboyant artist Nina Hamnett who was known as the 'Queen of Bohemia'. I have fond memories of visiting Oma in her Broadstairs home with sandy floors and buckets and spades. She made the beautiful crochet tablecloth shown above and the blanket is amongst my most treasured possessions.
Grandma Eleni, a fine crochet maker, was born in Thessaly, Greece in 1907. Here she’s in her mid-eighties crocheting in Athens.
Nothing remains of the fine crocheted blankets and laced pillowcases Grandma made before the war. Grubby and covered in lice, the weary Greek Resistance fighters who would stop over at Grandma’s for a few days would find their beds made with the finest of bed linen and the most delicate of crocheted blankets. On their departure everything would be boiled to destruction to get rid of the infestation. "They deserved to sleep in a fine bed," Grandma Eleni used to say. Grandma continued her crocheting in times of peace. One of her creations now graces the back of my sofa. She was my second mother.
This is a self portrait that my grandmother did in the 1930s or 40s. There is a very strong family resemblance!
My grandmother was a practising artist in New York for many years. She counted Alexander Calder and other known artists among her artist friends.
Tania's Mum & Grandmother
My Mum's a very good seamstress who often made clothes for us as well as making & selling Wombles, Emus, Snoopys & Kermits! They used to hang off the backs of chairs in our dining room until they were stuffed. This is Wellington, my sister's Womble, who must be well over 40 years old.
My grandmother painted all through her life. She loved painting the Highlands & North Yorkshire. We all gently teased her for painting "Happy Little Clouds".
My Granny's knitting needle gauge that I found in the pocket of her homemade handsewn workbag, which I inherited along with the rest of her sewing, knitting and needlepoint supplies. The beautiful heart-shaped gauge is shown on a cushion she made and which now lives in my sitting room. It was her love of needlepoint that inspired me to take up that craft and, like Granny, I did my own designs. This helped me keep my creative hand in while I worked in publishing and, in turn, those graphic square-ish cushion designs influenced my card designs. Maybe I should complete the circle and make some needlepoint kits from my card designs...
My mum's creative outlet is drama. From teenage years to present day she is heavily involved with amateur dramatics. She will either be on or behind the stage for all of the Alexandra Players productions in Charlton, South London.
Michele's Great Great Grandmother
I come from a very long line of knitters on both sides of my family. This is a photograph of my great great grandmother Melissa Ballard knitting on her 80th birthday somewhere in Kansas (early 1900s?). Her daughter, my great grandmother, who lived to 99 also knitted all of her life, even when she had gone blind. My knit items were the first things I made that I ever sold.