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July 02, 2020

In creating the items for Corrigan and Dale, I have an enormous sense of gratitude to the women in my family. The creative process has always been an important part of our family life, whether it has been through necessity and making do with what you have, or just for the sheer enjoyment of creating something new for yourself and others.

Deb and her grandmother

Debbie & her maternal grandmother who she called 'Bammie'. 

The creative process has been embedded in so many different areas of my life. Growing up for me it was definitely in traditional areas of crafts such as sewing, knitting, embroidery, crotchet – where these traditions were taught by older members of the family to the younger ones. Sitting together to not only learn the craft, but to modify it in ways to meet your needs and working together to sort how to do this, were some great family times together. These were also important learning moments that many do not get to experience today. Along the way there were some really bad attempts that failed dismally, but you can always pull out the work you had done and start again - my grandmother and mother made sure that nothing went to waste. I am sure this is because they both experienced the great depression of the 1930s.

A young Debbie standing in front of her grandmother Bammie, Debbie's mum Gwen in the middle and her Aunty Joyce. 

The creative process also extend to cooking in my childhood. While there were traditional favourite recipes, there was always the need to be creative as you never had all the ingredients you required. I think this has allowed me to be a cook today who can create things from whatever is in the pantry. This is an important skill as I live on a farm where shopping is a once a week adventure and cooking is a necessary daily event - takeaways are at some distance (and any food would be cold by the time I get home) and there are definitely no deliveries, not even pizza! 

Debbie & her mum and their Old English Sheepdog. 

But my gratitude to my family extends further. Even in my professional life as an educator, or in my hobbies such as quilting, gardening and woodworking, I have used this creative process. I often connect ideas together in different ways from others. I know not all of my creative ideas will work, but I am prepared to take the risk and work on ways to minimise the impact of any failures. I definitely learn from these failures, and in lots of ways, learn far more from them than I do from my successes.

Debbie & Dale with the classic family chocolate cake. The recipe has been passed down through the generations. 

One example of this was in teaching an adult class at university, where there is a great deal of reliance on written assessments. I was teaching a student who I knew was quite talented but was failing dismally. I did start to think whose failure was it - was it the student for not being able to complete the task to the “required” standard or was it me as the educator, who was not giving this student enough scope to demonstrate their capabilities? I am afraid to say that the failure was mine. Upon realising this I modified a task for this student to enable them to create a story about the work we were engaging with and to communicate this to me (and the rest of the class) in a way that they felt most comfortable. The result was one of those ah ha! moments in teaching, where this student blossomed and did demonstrate what they were capable of. This example was one that showed how I needed to learn from my failures and apply the creative processes that I knew so well from my family life.

There is much to be grateful for in such simple experiences and the moments we think are failures – they really are just the opposite…

 Debbie x