How a 1960’s Children’s TV Show Shaped My Life

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with factories and more specifically, production. Oddly enough this stems from a 1960’s children’s television programme.

More than forty years on, I can vividly recall scene by scene the Mary, Mungo and Midge series. At the risk of  sounding over dramatic, I would categorically say that one episode alone, The Crane (it’s on u tube) has shaped my life. The episode involves the characters watching a crane on a building site construct a new tower. Very simple but watching something being  made, produced,  built felt incredibly exciting, exotic and full of infinite possibilities.

Couple that with images of the Bunglebung Bridge in the crazy landscapes of Dr.Seuss books, countless children’s documentaries showing the inside of factories with production lines and conveyor belts… (flash back to a moving belt full of glass milk bottles having their foil caps attached by a machine), followed by the arrival in 1971, of the film, Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory and you have a very powerful set of reasons to want to produce something in a factory.

Fast forward to 2009 and I was being shown around the Tikkurila paint factory in Helsinki. Pure heaven. A place where colour is made. Pigments are blown from machines which could be straight from the pages of Seussville. It’s a building filled with conveyor belts carrying empty cans queueing up for their fill of paint. Ingredients in one end and a finished product at the other. Fantastic.

So, 2011, I take the decision to produce something. Instead of designing something and then looking for a manufacturer, I decided to go about the task the way I cook. I decide what I’m going to cook after I’ve looked to see what ingredients look tasty in the shops. In other words, I buy ingredients then decide what to cook (unless I am lured by a delicious recipe from Food To Glow which uses seasonal ingredients).

What I discovered well and truly opened my eyes. Unknown to me (and bear in mind I have spent 20 years in the interiors industry) we have mills on our doorsteps producing world class products. I really didn’t know this and I think if you ask fifty random people in the street to name a Scottish textile mill I doubt if they could name one either. But we do have them and the worlds top designers know this. Just like our best shell fish which is swifty taken abroad, it seems that products from our world class cashmere and textile mills are being snapped up designers in New York, Tokyo and Milan.

Recently events such as Scotland re designed have been showcasing these mills and Scottish designers such as Timorous Beasties and Belinda Robertson are using them to great effect with their high quality contemporary designs. I think if you ask the same question in ten years time, many people will be able to name these mills.

You only need to watch the short film on the MYB Textiles site (please do watch, it’s incredible) to see the deep rooted passion, skill and heritage that exists in these places.

If you want the softest cashmere, look what Begg Scotland can make for you. I have samples from them and the quality is staggering. This is why I want to design and make. It might be a ‘back to front’ way of designing but going out to see what’s possible and then designing something is intoxicatingly exciting.

I haven’t added cashmere or woven products to my range yet (although my designs are well under way) as I am starting with small products which I shall  slowly build upon. However,  I did receive my brand new range of botanical linen yesterday which I will be showing you on my next post .

I am also having a tour of Bute Fabrics, a mill on the Isle of Bute, next week so I hope to have some images from that too.

If anyone reading this shares my love of cranes,(?!) you will be interested to know that sound artist Bill Fontana is currently recording of the sounds of the Finneston Crane which he will showcase along with images in 2013 – I for one cannot wait!

….and one last thing, my favourite book which contains stunning illustrations must get a mention here, surprise, surprise it’s called The Crane which is about a man who loves his job.

Have you been influence by any childhood TV programmes or books? I would love to know what has shaped your career.

10 thoughts on “How a 1960’s Children’s TV Show Shaped My Life

  1. The video is amazing, beautifully filmed. Not sure if I have been influenced by a children’s programme but I do remember liking the Tony Hart programme, Vision On, and then I watched it’s re-incarnation Take Hart ( I think that was it’s title) with my own children.

  2. Oooh, I loved Tony Hart’s Vision On too – I even sent some pics for his gallery! Oh and wasn’t Morph fantastic.
    Yes, the MYB film is a stunner. The film maker is an extreme mountain biker which really shows in the film as his timing is fantastic. Its so exciting seeing what can be made in these places. Love it.

  3. Such a great post – very thought-provoking. I definitely agree with the belief that popular culture (that you are exposed to as a child) becomes a defining factor in the way you see the world. Whilst I grew up in the 80’s/90’s – I have always been obsessed with bright neon colours! P.s. I would love to visit that factory in Helinski – sounds so fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh, thanks so much for the encouragement with the blog :)
      Nice to have an 80-90’s neon child comment on the blog!! – although I have to say I’m also a bit partial to a splash of neon too!
      Yes, the inner workings of a paint factory are pretty amazing and definitely something I will always remember. However, I cant wait to see the mill on the Isle of Bute next week too. :)

  4. It’s so cool that you know the defining moment that shaped your life. You never know where or when you’ll find inspiration! I’m still waiting for that moment to happen for me – I should know what I want to be when I grow up by now, but I still don’t! ;-)

    Funny how we can live our whole lives in a country and not realize the products that are made right there on our doorstep. I’m sure there are industries that are big here in Canada that I’m not aware of – although you’d think our only two are beer and hockey ;-)

    I just love your line of mugs, and I can’t wait to see more from your design collection :-)

    • Oh I love it when adults are still exploring career paths as I think it shows an inquisitive mind and one that is always keen to learn and better themselves (well that’s how I justify my own fairly eclectic career path!)

      Beer and hockey, well you can’t knock either of these! However it is a real eye opener discovering just what is being made out there and I love the way geographical areas have their own set of skills and sometimes whole communities are deeply entrenched in one particular product and the communities are so passionate about the product because its almost part of the family as several generations have been in the same industry.

      Thanks again for the thumbs up on my products – it means a lot getting good feedback xx

  5. I loved hearing about your inspirations! And those mugs are just wonderful! The Willy Wonka movie was also a big visual influence for me, although when I first saw it in the theater, the tunnel scene terrified my and my father had to take me outside!

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