Dad and me (and she) and creativity
Do you have a muse? Many ongoing muses?
Who or what inspires your creativity?
My original muse was
my Dad, David Swain. Dad made a life of writing, cartooning and mentoring other creative sparks.
His first book, The Cantbeworried Tales, came out when I was seven. He gently satirised Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in cartoon and verse. This little book made a big impact on his world and mine.
When I was eleven,
my Dad initiated Australia’s first professional writing degree course. He was a natural born mentor, encourager, inspirer.
My first book, Great Housewives of Art, came out when I was thirty. 1988. It appeared on international bestseller lists along with Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Mrs Degas and friends led me on a not-always-merry dance to Darwin and New York exhibitions, Belgian postcard books, San Francisco T-shirts, Chinese feminist treatises, spin-offs, rip-offs and more.
Several years after that, I initiated Art and Soul – offering group and individual support for people to creatively blossom.
One day, I sat down. I looked at Cantbeworried. I looked at Great Housewives. Both slim volumes – turn them sideways and they disappear. Both books of words and pictures. Both humorous. Both composed of a series of types.
I realised. I am my father’s daughter. How could I have not seen the influence he had on me and my art?
On the sixth anniversary of my Dad’s death, I miss him. I’m not done with honouring David Swain – my original muse.
David Swain was also primary muse to his other daughter, my sister Jennie.
His abundant creative spark continues to play out through his granddaughter, Ruby.
Six years ago, we engaged in the poignantly agonising task of clearing out Mum and Dad’s home. (This deserves several blog posts in itself). Ruby was four. She sat quietly on the floor, with one of Dad’s squillion cartoon books. She chose a Mel Calman cartoon with two figures carrying a ‘Free Women’ sign.
She drew her own version.
‘Chip off the old block’, her Grandpa would’ve said.
Thank you for reading this slightly modified version of my Musey message from one year ago.