Updated: Apr 19, 2021
Making rooms or spaces has been a passion of mine from the beginning. As one of four siblings, finding a little space to be alone and daydream was very important. Don't get me wrong I had the most amazing childhood and enjoyed my siblings' company immensely. But I do remember one day coming home from nursery at noon and realising that I had the whole garden to myself, in fact, I had the whole house to myself, I was able to daydream and imaginary play as long as I wanted, well at least until my older siblings came home.
I was definitely a 'dolly girl'. I make no apologies.
I had a Dolly hospital in the cupboard, a doll house, mini dolls, medium dolls and teddy bears; I would take on abandoned dolls and create dolls from playdough or pegs or tin foil.
I would have whole scenarios played out for my dolls and planned events through the week. I would even converse with Barbie on wardrobe decisions. There was no distracting me from all things pink and doll-like.
Dolls were not so acutely admired by my sisters, my older sister was more sporty and loved horses and eventually took me with her on that passion and my little sister loved nothing more than dressing up as a cowboy and brandishing a machine gun, she did, however, do the most wonderful crazy accessorising , sometimes combining very unusual pieces like a whistle necklace, a rainbow brooch together with a 'scratch and sniff' t-shirt (what happened to that craze?).
I digress a little, you see I need to explain the origin of the little Botanical Room and why I have it. On our travels a few years ago we were in Bruges and woke up to find the whole city had become a flea market, as it was my birthday that day, we set off to see what took my fancy, nothing pricey just a token item to remember the day. We came across 1/2 a dozen small fold-out toy rooms made from cardboard; the patina was beautiful and the idea adorable, so eventually I chose one room for my gift. I love this room, at that very moment, I thought it would be cute to use it as the backdrop to a blog. So here it is, complete with said patina and inside, celebrating its debut appearance, is my Nan's Mount Royal Merchandise china ornament of a boy celebrating January, in this instance, January 2021, let's try to imagine a world where we can leave all the troubles of one year behind on the stroke of midnight and start afresh, let's try.
My Botanical room (the little antique toy) will be a room in which I hope to tell stories.
For years I have collected 'stuff', objects I love to reminisce over, look at, use, or just have for whatever reason. I hope to link them to a botanical reference as I am after all a botanical artist. I intend to analyse the strange things that make my imagination jump with ideas, good or failed and enjoy the process as I go; indeed to create a digital museum of my stuff.
January boy belonged to my Nanna, my father's mother. Nan was very loving and sweet, a good baker and homemaker. Her nickname was Bobs and as a young woman was very skinny and worked as a Lyons 'nippy' waitress. She called everyone dear, absolutely loved children and had a super infectious giggle. She met my grandfather William Showell, another Billy! when she was 15 and eloped with him at 17. They have on their wedding licence that she was aged 23 but, that was not the case. To make things worse for her mother, Nan wore a black dress to the elopement wedding, horrified my great grandmother insisted she had a proper white wedding soon after. It must have been a simple affair as there are no photos that I have found. Nan's sister had a rather grand wedding sometime later, maybe this was to make up for the scandal of Nan's wedding. I recall many lovely times in Nan's kitchen where we would chat away, I wonder about what, as the topics are lost to me, no doubt it was about baby rabbits and flowers as these were the topics we both loved, especially primroses and daffodils which are the only yellow flowers that I truly love.
One time Nan told me about a time when she was sweeping the path behind the house (she lived in a lovely old bungalow in devon) she said that she bent down to lift up a large autumn leaf from the drain cover and quickly discovered that it was, in fact, a toad. "I had quite a shock dear' she said 'that I nearly had a baby!' This comment from my Nan who was at that time in her 70's made me laugh and laugh, we laughed for what seemed like hours. This memory is golden (like the flowers we both loved) and is precious in my mind.
'Nan and me at the sea'