Alicia's Friend

Operation: Make Things Pretty

Alicia thinks that the most basic level of being creative is making something out of nothing. Almost everyone has the capacity to do this as humans are a highly creative species.

A more advanced form of being creative, or what distinguishes creative talent, is the ability to transform something dull, or even normal, into something inspiring: discovering the potential and exposing the good. This is what Alicia strives for.

For example, Alicia had a side table next to her sofa. It was a regular brown, wooden table. It lacked intensity, emotion and charm; it was sad to look at.

So Alicia and I decided to transform it into a table that would inspire us and make us happy. Here is our before and after presentation:

Alicia thinks that the world would be a better place if people dedicated more time into making things pretty. Of course Alicia does not advocate ruthlessness and irresponsible behaviour when striving for beauty. If you can use a bit of recycled paper in order to produce something inspiring, it can boost the happiness quota of the world in more than one way.

Alicia says that to feel truly inspired is rare, but when it happens it can change your life forever. Alicia finds this to be a really exciting notion, as inspiration is the force behind change and ultimately progression.


Limbo box

Alicia has many hobbies and interests so her house is full of things to do. She has hundreds of books, DVDs and videos; stationary and paints to do arts and crafts with; several musical instruments to play on; I always have fun when I go to her house.

One of Alicia’s hobbies is collecting things. Today she showed me a few of her collections. Here are a few select pieces from Alicia’s pin collection:

These are some important pins from school.

These are a few Henley tickets.

These are Alicia’s favourite badges, because you can turn them around and see a different face. It’s like having two badges in one.


Here are a few highlights from Alicia’s sticker collection:

Watermelon and Hamburger stickers with goggle eyes.

Frog stickers featuring holographic bodys.

These stickers have to be kept in a bag because they are strawberry scented and the aroma could evaporate!

With Alicia’s vast collection of stickers we carefully chose our favourite ones and decorated her Polaroid camera.

Alicia and I are really happy with the way it turned out.

One could probably deduce that Alicia is a great collector and hoarder of many different things, not just of pins and stickers. And it’s true, Alicia is a hoarder. Nearly every surface in her room is occupied – from the tops of cupboards to the floor under her bed. Inevitably, she sometimes finds it hard to get organised. She has attempted the mantra ‘Everything in its place, and a place for everything.’ but the trouble is that she’s run out of places to put things, so she occasionally gets a few surprises:

A matchbox I found in Alicia’s room. It probably has matches inside.

No matches. There is a tiny key and a dried up daisy inside the matchbox. Alicia doesn’t know why or how this came to be.

The other problem is that somethings just don’t have a place. Here are a few of Alicia’s un-placeable things:

The un-placeables: a tiny figure of a woman wearing a red coat, a rubbing of a penny, a small broken compass, a pair of little wooden legs that used to be from a Pinocchio doll.

These objects may be un-placeable but they are still worth something to Alicia, so she keeps them. And in doing so, she has inadvertently made a haphazard collection of un-placeable items and has given them a place in her house – the only place where something can belong and where nothing belongs: the limbo box.


Alicia and I had a lot of work to do today because her Aunt Penny gave her some brand new colouring pencils. ‘What will we draw?’ we thought. The quality of the colouring pencils was so good we couldn’t just draw cats and dogs like we normally do:

[Sergeant Pepper-paws the cat and Jackaby the hybrid spiderdog.]

Then Alicia knew: ‘We’ll draw dragons!’ she exclaimed. ‘A creature worthy of such excellent pencils.’

Alicia loves dragons. They are her favourite mythological creatures because they are powerful, wise and live for a very long time. She says she prefers the European style dragon that is usually depicted as winged, as opposed to the Chinese Dragon that is more snake like. Although she really likes the dragon in Spirited Away:

Alicia and I love all of Studio Ghibli films. We decided that the animations are so magical that they make us feel like anything is possible.

But we had to get back to work. Alicia thought hard about what her dragon would look like and what it could be doing.

‘What is the most important moment in a dragon’s life?’ I asked, and that’s when Alicia knew what had to be drawn. She started colouring away passionately.

The moment she decided to capture was just as a young dragon finds its first treasure to guard: the most dramatic and crucial moment in a dragon’s life. But Alicia added extra drama: in her drawing the dragon perches on a rock in the middle of a turbulent ocean; the treasure buried fathoms below, glows brightly, like a siren calling the dragon to its potential doom:

What I like about Alicia’s drawing is that we do not know what will happen next. Will the dragon turn away and look for another treasure to guard, which could take centuries of searching? Or will it plunge to the depths of the ocean floor, grab the treasure in its mighty claws, fly to safety, and guard the treasure with all its strength for as long as it lives?

Alicia says she doesn’t know what the dragon will do either.

Such is the circle of life

Springtime is Alicia’s favourite season. She says she loves to see the flowers bloom, to hear the birds sing and to feel the spirit of rebirth all around her.

One spring morning, Alicia woke up to find a pigeon, sitting in a gutter, outside her bathroom window. Naturally Alicia was delighted and decided to take a picture:


It was then that Alicia noticed some twigs in the gutter too. Had this little pigeon built a nest? Alicia moved forward to take a closer look but the pigeon flew away in fear. Much to Alicia’s surprise, it was indeed a nest and complete with an egg too! Alicia gasped with joy and took another picture:


Happy with her photos, Alicia continued to get ready for the day.

Later, Alicia and I met for tea in my garden and she could not stop talking about the pigeon and the egg. What luck that in a few weeks she would actually get to see a baby pigeon hatch!

However, half-way through a cucumber sandwich, a raindrop fell on Alicia’s hand and then another splashed on her nose. The rain then started to pound down heavily and that is when Alicia realised the terrible danger. She ran back home as fast she could in hope that she could save the egg from the rainfall. But it was too late and she took one last picture:


Alicia made it a black and white picture because she thought the lack of colour captured the impact of her sadness quite perfectly.

Alicia grieved for an appropriate amount of time and then reminded herself that such is the circle of life, natural selection and the rest of it so she did not feel so sad anymore.


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