02 November 2013

Every object has a story

The "small collection of objects of personal significance or interest" we took to the first session of the "Developing practice for makers through museums" course, has led to lots of thinking about the significance of objects, their role as receptacles for memory.
This tableau is full of such objects, things used every day to the point where they don't get noticed any more. It's only when one of these useful, commonplace things breaks, when someone "injures" them, or if it inexplicably disappears that we become aware of them. [Is this a metaphor for our relations with the people in our lives? Scary thought.]

Unpicking the associations, the stories -

- plates bought, unexpectedly, at the Natural History Museum one Sunday after we'd been to see an exhibition of huge photos in the outdoor space - there were five plates left, and I wish I'd bought the fifth, in case of breakage ... the birds also remind me of flocks of birds circling the train station in Amsterdam, seen with my young son on one easter holiday, and of the "sky birds" piece I made for the exhibition in Slough

-pepper mill from Ikea, tedious to fill, but grinds well - and how difficult is it to find a decent pepper grinder!

-salt bowl was made in pottery class during foundation art course (I'll spare you the technical details)

-tablecloth brought back from Tanzania by Thomas and Sarah ... that would be three years ago, or four?  It fits perfectly on the table, and the turmeric I spilt on it disappeared almost completely after a few washings

-chairs from Ikea are very comfortable but the "strings" came untied quickly - visiting friend made short work of tying them up again and the ones she fixed have stayed fixed for some years! These chairs are good for drying laundry, too

-salad servers were bought with my first John Lewis reward points - they came in a wooden box, cost £20 [extravagant!] and I love the one red, one orange handle

-cutlery was a present from Aunt Else in Germany, for my "hope chest" (in an age when ordinary girls had such a thing); I polish it on new year's eve, usually. My mother had quite a few pieces as well, so that's in a cupboard somewhere. Polishing silver is something I like to do.

-brown bowl came from a Goodwill shop in Calgary, so that would be 1977, and cost 75 cents. It's not mass produced and has been with me in Halifax, NS, and Oxford, as well as London, so it's taken part in many meals and seen many people

-white bowl is a recent charity shop find ... I've having a little obsession with odd-shaped, solid coloured crockery

- blue chinese bowl is a replacement in 2003 by the Pollard family of a broken bowl that I loved at the time but now cannot recall - but I think fondly of the donors every time I use the new bowl

- little red colander is a companion for the big green colander, which was one of my first purchases for this "new" flat in 1994

Pictures are objects too - after the hall was painted, we had a rehang. To you, they would be interesting or boring, pleasant or negligible - to me they are more than their surface: they represent different times in my life, different situations in which they were acquired, different reasons for being there. Going past them several times in a day, I don't notice them - but I'm not ready to part with them.


June said...

Margaret -- bravo, brava! for some reason, this is the kind of thought I've been living with over the last month or so. No reason, just because. Every object has a story, and if we are lucky, some large part of that story (or what we know of it) involves ourselves, our people, our tribe, our loved ones, our past. The stories of objects, even those of friends and acquaintances, are always delicious, involving as they do the histories of the people who are around us, giving us more knowledge of their lives. It's why I have some difficulty with _feeling_ some paintings (which is different than identifying why they are well-done, etc.) As objects, I don't get their "story" -- and there's with wall art, there is not even a tactile surface to deliver something of it to my hand. And of course, it's why I have no difficulty at all feeling other paintings, where the knowledge embodied in the surface pigment shows me something I know of, perhaps a new part of something I know of, perhaps a rendition of something I know of but never thought of in that way, or perhaps just catches me in any number of ways I can't expect until I see what's been done. But the "hook" the personal tag, ah, that's what I need to _feel_ power. I know that is heresy, that the universal qualities of great art are supposed to be, well, universal. But that's what they told us about all that old male WASP stuff done by the same, and now I know better. Some of it is beautifully rendered, but I never wandered the streets like a patient etherized upon a table, although I bet I know some who have. Well, enough of that. Liked your ideas and particularly your particulars, very much.

Jane Housham said...

Thanks for this -- very generously shared. A small beloved china dish of mine was broken recently, while I was out. I wasn't SO upset by the breakage itself as by the fact that no one thought to keep the pieces for me when they know I avidly collect broken china. I would have been almost as happy to have it broken as whole but it was thrown away. Hurt... Hope that isn't a self-indulgent comment, but I share your connection to objects as life-markers, if that's the right word.