I've never been a very artistic person. I wish I was. I remember meeting a man who, instead of keeping a written diary of his holiday, dashed off simple, but brilliantly executed, sketches of all the many places
he had visited. And I remember Art Classes at school where my friend Pat excelled, producing amazing pictures which leapt off the page, while I struggled valiantly, and unsuccessfully, to translate a vase of droopy flowers and
an apple into something which could be described, even loosely, as "Still Life."
So when I picked up a leaflet in a charity shop this morning asking for people to get involved in an art
project, it wasn't because I thought it would be right up my street. I pick up leaflets all over the place, just because I know somebody, somewhere went to great trouble to produce them - and in a previous life, that person might have been me.
Someone has to read these leaflets which others have slaved over. I am, in a small way, paying back, with interest, all those people who ever read a leaflet written by me.
Reading this particular
leaflet, it turns out that the project in question is a great idea, dreamed up by a local organisation which helps the homeless. They are looking to recruit 500 artists, one for each person who has used their services in the last twelve months.
The artists will be given a brief, anonymised profile of one of the clients from which they will produce a "portrait". Now I know what you are thinking. Just from the scant information provided above, you feel that this might be a trifle ambitious
for such as me. But, listen to this: the portraits can be drawn, sculpted, painted - or even knitted!
Knitting! I can do that! I have been able to knit since I was about 7 years old, when I produced
an immensely long, very holey, black and white scarf for my poor father. He wore it all the time until the holes all ran into each other and it basically fell to bits.
But I did get better, through
perseverance and practice (which are the basics of everything we strive to do, if you come to think of it.) There is something remarkably relaxing about knitting. You can knit while you are watching TV, listening to the radio, chatting to the husband.
You don't have to feel guilty about sitting watching, say, Wimbledon tennis for hours on end, if at the same time you are turning out knitted jumpers for your off-spring - or, these days, for your off-spring's off-spring. And, very importantly,
if you go wrong, you can unravel to the point where you missed a stitch, or whatever, and start again. How many people wish they could simply unravel life and go back to the start when things go wrong for them?
As well as countless jumpers and cardigans, I have knitted Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, three entire Nativity tableaux, a scarecrow, three Father Christmases and one Mrs Christmas, several teddy bears, a reindeer, and a truly enormous Gary the Golfer
complete with golfing umbrella, golf bag and clubs. My latest project, commissioned by the Middle of the Darling Daughters, is knitting birds which will hang from the ceiling of my newest grandchild's nursery. And I never knit without
thinking of the person who will wear, or play with - or just watch from his cot! - whatever I am knitting.
All four of my older grandchildren can knit, all patiently taught by me - though I do not
think this is always very well appreciated by their mothers who, when I am not there, have to deal with the "Help, I've dropped a stitch!" scenario. I stay firm in my belief that it is a skill which will serve them well in later life.
So I'm filling in my form and volunteering to knit a person, as yet unknown to me. I wonder if they will warn him / her that he / she will be knitted, rather than painted, drawn or sculpted. Will he / she mind?
According to the leaflet "this is a fantastic opportunity to exercise your artistic talents for a good cause." Artistic talents? Me? I'm quietly elated.
Knit one, purl one, knit two together - there'll be no stopping me now...