SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Reflections from the Lion King Exhibition Talk.

I am a Figurative Cloth Artist, Pattern Designer and Tutor, holding weekly classes in the warmer months, and workshops elsewhere in NZ a few times a year.  I am also an active member of in a Gallery.

Reflections on the Lion King.
I have had a desire for some time to do something more ‘art worthy’ than anything I had previously done.  To extend myself beyond what I consciously knew.  My mentor had been encouraging me for ages to have an Exhibition, and I was always hesitant because I didn’t feel ready.  But working and focussing on this Exhibition took me to that “different place.”

I am kinaesthetic, and my inspiration comes from movement – what I see and hear. I enjoy the process, but to help me think, I need to stop and maybe sweep the floor, or play with the dog, in between bouts of creative action. 

My impressionable childhood was in the 50’s, after the war.  The era of musicals, song and dance.  My adult family members on my mothers side were all performers of song, poetry, acting, and different forms of creativity.  My mother was into politics and had a hunger for learning, but my grandmother was thankfully, very creative, and my love for making things came from her.  It was mum who taught me to sew – not consciously, because she didn’t have that much patience, but I used my super-powers of observation while she thought I was doing the ironing, and taught myself when she was out at Labour party meetings!

I was first inspired by hearing the music from the Lion King, and then ‘hooked’ the first time I saw the opening number on Utube, with Rafiki calling – like a Karanga - and singing about the circle of life, which like so many, I connected with. 

The words, the posturing, passion, dance, costuming, and dramatic effects that told the story!  It caught my imagination and I was curious to see if I could make any of it.  The decision to go with the Lion King, became a turning point in my knowledge and understanding of this art form.

I started making these figures in March 2018, thinking I only had five months to complete them because it was going to be open for Spring. Then that became December, and then it became unknow  ,as work progressed at the Forrester. I was pleased I managed to get 15 pieces made before Spring, and it was so time consuming, which I chaffed at!

I learned that preparing for an exhibition is an onerous task!  Times, when I was inundated with other work, and big things happening – like they do, made me feel I was wasting my time!  Doubts about what I was doing.  Why on earth was I doing it?  For what? Is it worth it? It felt like such a waste of time, with everything demanding my attention.  I said so to my Mentor, who is always positively constructive.  She said, “Because you love it!” You don’t need a reason!

Okay, that’s the other side of it! I began to change my attitude, because I realised I had been looking for a creative challenge, one that enabled me to dig deeper into myself and see what was there.    

There is nothing like doing a series of something, to develop skills and techniques that I would otherwise not have learned if I had not followed my own process of curiosity, to discovery.  I like this quote from Dorothy Parker, - “The cure for boredom is curiosity – there is no cure for curiosity!”

Now I am more aware of what is possible, that I am capable of more than I ever thought.  I learned that the more you do of something, the more instinctive you become with it, information I can pass on in my other work.

There are always sacrifices made when you set time aside to commit to something, and for me it was a year of not communicating as much with my family, or connecting on social media the same as I had previously with an online group I help co-ordinate, or on my FB Page, and Blog! I even lost income from lack of marketing and putting out new patterns, or even workshops last year – and I missed doing all that!

 Instead, I had to focus, research, design, source, and manufacture materials to make these figures work.  I was grateful to have our OCDC Group, to sustain and support me, and who gave me plenty of other creative work to do to fill in the gap – and I am so grateful to them for their willingness to test things out for me! It has all been worth it in the end.

The Lion King Disney musical, which these figures are based on, has been going for 22 years, after it opened in 1997 on Broadway, New York. It still plays today and is the most successful theatrical production of all time. In 2019, an adaptation of the musical drama of the Lion King has come out in film.

For those unfamiliar with the Story:  The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands.

After Simba's uncle Scar, (his father’s jealous younger brother), murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible, and he flees into exile, where he lives with two fellow outcasts, Timone, a meerkat and Pumbaa, a warthog. They all live a carefree life under the motto, “Kahuna matata - No worries!

When he matures, Simba receives some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and he is urged by his advisor Rafiki to “Remember who you are!”  He returns to challenge Scar, to end his tyranny, and to take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King.

My daughter Kylee, shared this quote by Kurt Vonnegut that says it all for me;

“Practice any art- music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting,
sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage,
no matter how well, or badly, not for money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow."


Arley said...

What a wonderful story, Sharon. Thank you for sharing your journey. I hope you will post more photos of the exhibit.