Wall to wall kitsch edition. Why…because I saw on Facebook that today is National Teddy Bear Day! TRUE. So here goes.
Ever since I can remember I have always made personalised cards for my friends, usually on their birthdays. I have never bought a Christmas card, I’ve always made my own. When I left art school we all sent each other our own make card…now I am the only one left that still carries on the tradition. In the old days I did the Christmas cards by hand…I used to lay them on the stairs to dry. Nowadays I send my design off to the printer. Several of my friends have collected my cards over the years, much to my amazement. I have kept a copy of each one. I’ve got about fifty five, at this time of year I am always thinking that I will never have an idea but I live in hope, I’ll have to be quick as I take advantage of Black Friday at the printers.
When Betty left Berlin and the team were awarded the Nobel Prize, they were given a civic reception by the mayor of Berlin. The Bear is the symbol of Berlin and at the end they were all given a small bear. Betty treasured that little bear, it stood for all her memories and experiences of that time. Other people might see bits of fur and beads for eyes, but they wouldn’t know the deep meaning that those humble materials carried, they become a totem. Because I knew that Berli was important, almost like a small person, I made a card featuring him in the main part for her birthdays. His character developed as I went on. I did little series. Incidentally he never learned how to spell in spite of being very self important.
Ok…so he’s a bit battered, but he has been all over the world so what do you expect. Betty and I were once coming back from Germany. The ferry docked late at night. The first motor way in Kent had just opened. We pulled into a lay by in the dark, Berli usually sat on the dashboard. We had some coffee from the flask then drove off. After a few miles Betty said ‘Where’s Berli?’ He wasn’t there and we knew he must have fallen out. She said ‘We’ll have to go back’ she turned right round and drove back on the same side of the road i.e the wrong side for the direction she was driving in. I was terrified that something would come, but it was in the middle of the night. We got to the lay by safely and drove slowly up and down with full headlights on…and there he was. How can this threadbare piece of cloth mean so much. I noticed this morning when I saw the item about ‘Bear Day’ that it was the old battered ones that people had posted. Is it the forward looking eyes. I don’t think I have ever seen a malevolent looking bear. Usually their mouths turn upward a bit so there is the hint of a smile.
Buk ritten and paynted for hiz frend’z bi Berli
In mi bloo peeriud
Muthur and sun
Me az a Fewturist In mi koobizt fase
In mi pink peeriud
Mi Matees Tyme
I hav ritten anuthur buk for mi frendz burthday, this tyme it’z abowt mi reelijus ancesstorz. Boor lee, the boodist
Liburl, the Hindoo fakeer
The Kwaykur B.Early
See ov ee. Rev Burley
Muthur tereeza bear.
Wajes ov doom bear
I have always thought that if you can do something the nicest thing is to use your skill, such as it is, to make someone happy. Ken was very good at this he made me a dulcimer, a beautifully carved little model guitar, a wooden box to put my lino cutting tools in, and all kinds of other things. They carry a meaning much greater than something bought. I carried on making all kinds of ‘Berliana’ as I call it every year till Betty died at the age of 85. So I have a lot things in different media.
Ooh yoo’ve got anuthur burthday. Heer r a few mor ov mi ordinaree ancestorz.
Ug. Stown ayj bear
Sur Lanzalott d’Ursa
Izabell Kingdum Bear
Furst Bear on mune.
Bumpur buk ov orijinal nursree rimes for you burthdae.
Berli’s Sash once had Berlin printed across it. When he was made Berlin was in ruins…so much has happened since then that he also stands for time passing and perpetual change…nothing is permanent as the Buddhists say.