Thursday, 10 February 2011

Packet In (or, The Excitement of the Empty Space)

Permit me to put on my rosy spectacles and enjoy some nostalgia.
I was clearing through an old box in my room today and found this:

Yep, it's the front of a Kellogg's Corn Flake box. A box from about 1992, a time when, as you can see, people were concerned about getting their money's worth of carbohydrate in a breakfast cereal. Finding this was quite the blast from the past. Now, when you look at this or any other packet of corn flakes you probably see just that; a packet of corn flakes. But to this day I see potential drawing space. I see excitement.

Sundays were when my little brother and I were shipped off to Granny and Granddad's house for the whole day. We used to have a great time; playing boardgames, running around in the tiny garden and building obstacle courses or looking at all the new inventions in my granddad's shed, watching Catchphrase and Bullseye and that one show that had Hulk Hogan in a boat (I forget what it's called...but I think The Simpsons based 'Knightboat' on it), and getting up to all the mischief kids who are 6 and 4 get up to. But the best part of the day was when my brother and my granddad and me would sit at the kitchen table and draw. I loved to draw, and boy would we draw.

The thing is, it was always on the back of cornflake packets.

Now, I don't know if my granddad was cheap (likely) or didn't want us wasting good paper with our scribbles (even more likely), but all we ever drew on were the backs of cut up old cornflake (or, sometimes, bran flake) boxes. It gave even our best work a colour-sapping browny-greyness to it, but I didn't care. To me, a six year old kid, a fresh piece of cut up cornflake packet was as exciting as a six foot canvas. The sort of thing I could do this on...

Yep, this is the reverse side of that corn flake packet: a drawing I did (age 6, I think) of a wooden monkey my gran owned (and still does), which I loved (and still do), and which I had evidently nicknamed Charlie. I must have thought he looked quite lonely on his own, as my gran has never owned a crocodile, snake, bird or bug ('Bertie bug' has been cut off by the scan, but he looked like a ladybird), but there he is with them all, calling them his friends.
It's an unremarkable picture by any standard, but I've decided to frame it and put it above my desk, partly as an artefact of my life, but mostly to keep reminding me of how much I loved - and still love - to draw, and so that I never forget the excitement and potential of an empty space, even if that empty space has a cereal-loving cockerel on the other side of it.

Anyway, nostalgia trip over. I'm off with my crayons and a pair of scissors. I think I spotted a nearly-empty box of Weetabix in the kitchen earlier...