Saturday, 2 July 2011

Outlets for creativity

What a day. Raining since daybreak, temperature averaging a little over 12C. A good time to do some cleaning. Something I've wanted to do for a while now is to make some room on my bookcases and put my display of model aircraft into the attic.

Model aircraft? Yes indeed, dear reader. Soon after moving to our (then) new house on ul. Trombity in 2002, I was infected by a desire to re-visit an important part of my childhood, namely the sticking together and painting of model aircraft (see this post on my blog about my formative years).

In keeping with my good Polish patriotic sentiments, I began a small project which grew and grew - to make, in 1/72 scale, replicas of all the various aircraft which Polish squadrons serving with the Royal Air Force flew during WWII. For the best part of five years, this became my chief hobby. I bought scores of books in Polish and English, scores of plastic models, paints, decals (transfers) with Polish squadron markings. 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 315, 316, 317, 318, 663, 'Skalski's Circus' - the Polish Fighting Team, as well as various training units. I've built Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, Defiants (fighters), a Lancaster and Wellington (bombers); Mosquito and Beaufighter (fighter-bombers); Tiger Moth, Dragon Rapide, Harvard, Magister (trainers).

And so, having built and painted 30 or so models, I displayed them in my bedroom, where they've been doing nothing else except gathering dust.

In February 2007 I bought my Nikon D80, and in doing so I returned in a big way to the principle hobby that occupied much of my free time from student days to fatherhood - photography. But digital photography offers so many more possibilities than the traditional type! Within weeks of buying the camera, I started this blog. The initial idea was to use this new media to showcase my photographs from our neighbourhood. And in the wake of photography - writing.

Once the blogging bug had bit me, the plastic aeroplanes ceased to be of interest. They stood there, gathering more dust (removing the dust meant risking damage to fragile parts - tiny radio aerials or gun barrels), I felt sentimentally attached to my handiwork... But there comes a time when we must move on. The period 2002- early 2007 was a resurgence of childhood, the smell of glue and the paint, the delicate fingerwork to get tiny pieces precisely right... Was it worth it?

Honestly? No. As a pastime, it was that. It passed the time. A craft skill, but one that was ultimately not creative. I was not doing anything new, anything that had never been done before. Photography is an outlet for one's vision, sharing what one sees and feels. And writing. Putting one's thoughts on a blog, where they can be read by thousands of people each month, is far more satisfying, and ultimately more useful, than sticking together plastic scale replicas of WWII aircraft.

And so what's happened to them? They have been carefully stored, amid balls of lightly-scrunched up newspaper, in crates, and taken up to the attic. Ideally, they'd be worthy of a museum (any suggestions?). I'm leaving just a few models on display, representing the most famous of all the Polish squadrons, 303, from the Battle of Britain through to the unit's decommissioning in 1946.

Hawker Hurricane Mk I, V6665 RF-J , 303 (Polish) Sqn, Northolt, September 1940.

This time two years ago:
The day I stopped commuting to work by car

This time three years ago:
Look up at the Towers of London

This time four years ago:
Wild deer in the Las Kabacki forest


Sigismundo said...

I used to greatly enjoy making Airfix kits well into my late teens, though the long self-engrossed hours have undoubtedly been part of what has turned me into the under-socialised anorak that I am today.

I had an argument once with a modeller in his forties who said he continued to model because he felt it was somehow 'artistic', a counterpoint to his job in which he mainly used mathematical skills. Hmmm, I said, can't see anything actually 'creative' in it, not if you're simply following instructions and copying a ready-made pattern when painting. But you've nailed it on the head, it's primarily a CRAFT skill.

If I was in a particularly stroppy mood I might argue that photography is, by and large, also primarily a craft skill. That's if you're not into photographing the shadows of window frames, in black and white of course. Thankfully, photography is not regarded as anorak-ish (any more).

Anonymous said...

I am happy to offer you my dad's model tank collection (pretty much every tank in existence) to complement your aircraft collection.
Also VERY dusty!!
Canada Day long weekend was very sunny and hot. We were away at a lakefront cottage on Lake Huron (more sea, than lake)and I got very sunburned.

Sorry to hear that weather at your end was so miserable.


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed making the scale model balsa wood airplanes since I was a boy. I have not tackled one for a few years now, but you got me thinking about my old hobby. Once Summer is over and the days start to get shorter I think I will look on the internet for a kit. I built the kits from Paul K. Guillow, Inc. I enjoyed building these because they were built like the real airplanes, struts, spars, rigs, etc. On top of that, attach a small gasoline engine and they flew. They are almost as realistic as yours only larger.

Andrew in Calif.