January 28, 2013
Soldiers

soldiers 2


-What is it?

A pot of model soldiers.


-Where is it from?

My dad painted them.


-How did you come to have it?

I asked my Dad to save them for me, when he was getting rid of stuff.


-Why is it important?

When I was little, my dad built me a model railway on a fold-away decorating table. It had paper mache tunnels and the lot. Trains were good but battles were better. So model soldiers were necessary. Dad would spend hours in his study, under a bright desk-lamp, painting these little soldiers while I played in my bedroom next door. He is a good dad. There were pots and pots of them, from all different periods of history. I seem to remember him being keen to point out historical inaccuracies (e.g. no trains in the 14th century) and me not really listening.

Years later, when I was 18ish, I would set the soldiers up in subtle places around the house, fighting tiny battles that would go unnoticed by my parents for weeks. I thought I was funny. At this point Dad would still spend hours at the same desk in the room next to mine, patiently tolerating second-hand smoke, and the sound of hormonal amateur DJs learning to scratch and saying the sort of stupid self-important things that boys of that age do. Instead of painting model soldiers he would play Doom or Quake on the PC and in the rare moments of quiet we would hear his gunfire.


- Where do you keep it?

On my bookcase, along with other things that don’t really have an obvious home but don’t deserve to be banished into storage.

November 26, 2012
-What is it?
It’s a little fluffy bunny toy.
-Where is it from?
It was probably a gift from my dad. He brought it for me from one of his business travels to Austria.  
-How did you come to have it?
When I was a little girl, my dad was traveling so frequently because of his job. He always brought me presents when he got back to home, so that I can see a good side about his travels. 
-Why is it important?
It is not just a toy but a character that my mom was using while telling me stories that she made up. His name is ‘rabbit benny’ and one of my most favorite adventures of him is the one he lost his tail and then discovered its hidden in his jumpsuit. It is so important for me because he still has a unique place in our relationship, my mom and I still refer him in our dialogues. It is a remainder of my childhood, the witness of my experience of growing-up and also the symbol of my strong ties to the idea of  childhood. He always embraces me, gives me strength and provides me a sense of security every time I need it. 
- Where do you keep it?
I keep it in our bedroom on the top of our dresser and sometimes he visits me on my working desk.

-What is it?

It’s a little fluffy bunny toy.

-Where is it from?

It was probably a gift from my dad. He brought it for me from one of his business travels to Austria.  

-How did you come to have it?

When I was a little girl, my dad was traveling so frequently because of his job. He always brought me presents when he got back to home, so that I can see a good side about his travels. 

-Why is it important?

It is not just a toy but a character that my mom was using while telling me stories that she made up. His name is ‘rabbit benny’ and one of my most favorite adventures of him is the one he lost his tail and then discovered its hidden in his jumpsuit. It is so important for me because he still has a unique place in our relationship, my mom and I still refer him in our dialogues. It is a remainder of my childhood, the witness of my experience of growing-up and also the symbol of my strong ties to the idea of  childhood. He always embraces me, gives me strength and provides me a sense of security every time I need it. 

- Where do you keep it?

I keep it in our bedroom on the top of our dresser and sometimes he visits me on my working desk.

November 22, 2012

What is it?
A set of wooden finger puppets from the 1960s. 

Where is it from?
Czechoslovakia.

How did you come to have it?
I stumbled across the puppets while browsing on ebay a couple of years ago. Me and my brother had a set when we were children and I remember playing with them for hours. I loved their little wooden heads and the different fabrics of their simple dresses. I have no idea where our own set went and when I saw those little guys on ebay, I knew I had to own them again.

Why is it important?
It takes me back to my childhood, and reminds me of our happy hours of playing with Mr Cat, Bear, Horse, Dog and Donkey. There’s something so nostalgic about re-finding lost items from your youth and I love that I own this set again. I am also a huge fan of 1960s and 70s design, and love the bright colours and bold images on the packaging. Why can’t toys nowadays be as simple and lovely!? I feel happy every time I look at it.

Where do you keep it?
It sits on top of my fabric shelves in my sewing room, proudly on view and available for playing whenever the mood takes.

November 22, 2012
gazelle

- Im pretty sure its a gazelle. Its made of some kind of plastic.
- on the back it claims to be from France. Think my Father aquired it years ago, possibly from Morocco.
- it was found in the work shed of my house. I gave it a new lease of life in my early teens by hanging it on the wall of my room.
- its been a great thing to have. I remember writing some song with it in mind and drawing it when I was younger, such unusual objects or artifacts can really help fuel the imagination, especially at an early age.
- I’ve put it back up on the wall of my room.

November 22, 2012
What is it? It’s an incredibly long red and black striped woollen scarf.Where is it from? It was knitted for me by my ex-girlfriend’s mum. How did you come to have it? Around nine years ago I decided that I wanted to own a Dennis the Menace inspired red and black scarf. I had recently moved away from my native Dundee, where Dennis was created, and I wonder now if this urge was based on some kind of odd instinct to carry a little piece of my home town around with me. It’s worth noting here that the city I had moved to is only an hour away from Dundee. My girlfriend at the time said that her mum was big on knitting, and that the task of making me a scarf would be right up her street.Why is it important? Firstly, it’s the longest scarf I’ve ever seen which has to count for something. The scale of it doesn’t come across in the photo but once you start unravelling this thing it just keeps going and going. I think its length is the secret to its cosiness. Secondly, it was knitted specially for me which is pretty cool and I will always be grateful to the artisan who generously crafted it. Thirdly, it’s a nice little reminder of when I had just started art college, the newness of it all, the possibilities, the friendships I forged. And of course it will always be connected with the good times that I spent with someone who is possibly the soundest of all people, the boyfriend-girlfriend thing may have only lasted a few months, but nine years later we’re good pals and the chat is great.

What is it?
It’s an incredibly long red and black striped woollen scarf.

Where is it from?
It was knitted for me by my ex-girlfriend’s mum.

How did you come to have it?

Around nine years ago I decided that I wanted to own a Dennis the Menace inspired red and black scarf. I had recently moved away from my native Dundee, where Dennis was created, and I wonder now if this urge was based on some kind of odd instinct to carry a little piece of my home town around with me. It’s worth noting here that the city I had moved to is only an hour away from Dundee. My girlfriend at the time said that her mum was big on knitting, and that the task of making me a scarf would be right up her street.

Why is it important?
Firstly, it’s the longest scarf I’ve ever seen which has to count for something. The scale of it doesn’t come across in the photo but once you start unravelling this thing it just keeps going and going. I think its length is the secret to its cosiness. Secondly, it was knitted specially for me which is pretty cool and I will always be grateful to the artisan who generously crafted it. Thirdly, it’s a nice little reminder of when I had just started art college, the newness of it all, the possibilities, the friendships I forged. And of course it will always be connected with the good times that I spent with someone who is possibly the soundest of all people, the boyfriend-girlfriend thing may have only lasted a few months, but nine years later we’re good pals and the chat is great.

November 22, 2012


What is it?
A simple garland of Japanese paper stars made from magazine cuttings.

Where is it from?
It’s handmade.

How did you come to have it?
My parents have established something of a tradition where every year, in the first weekend in December, they travel up from Devon and come to stay with my girlfriend and I. On the Sunday morning we walk down to our local flower market and buy our Christmas tree, take it home and decorate it together while listening to festive music and eating a very seasonal lunch. A significant part of this tradition is that my crafty mum teaches us to make something christmasy to adorn our flat with. Each year she helps us create something festive from handmade baubles for the tree to a homemade wreath made from locally found ivy, berries and fur cones to hang on our front door. My mum taught us to make this Japanese star garland in our second year after helping out at a Japanese friend’s wedding where they made hundreds of these 3D paper stars as confetti on the tables. We altered their original design and strung them together with cotton thread.

Why is it important?
 Its become part of a weird, sentimental collection of handmade festive objects, each of which come with their own memories of our Christmasy weekends together.

Where do you keep it?
For 11 months of the year it is stored away, coiled up in newspaper, inside an old leather suitcase that used to belong to my girlfriend’s dad. At Christmas, they are strung up above our mantlepiece, hung from an artist print of a pair of lips which makes the garland look like some kind of necklace.

What is it?

A simple garland of Japanese paper stars made from magazine cuttings.

Where is it from?

It’s handmade.

How did you come to have it?

My parents have established something of a tradition where every year, in the first weekend in December, they travel up from Devon and come to stay with my girlfriend and I. On the Sunday morning we walk down to our local flower market and buy our Christmas tree, take it home and decorate it together while listening to festive music and eating a very seasonal lunch. A significant part of this tradition is that my crafty mum teaches us to make something christmasy to adorn our flat with. Each year she helps us create something festive from handmade baubles for the tree to a homemade wreath made from locally found ivy, berries and fur cones to hang on our front door. My mum taught us to make this Japanese star garland in our second year after helping out at a Japanese friend’s wedding where they made hundreds of these 3D paper stars as confetti on the tables. We altered their original design and strung them together with cotton thread.

Why is it important?

 Its become part of a weird, sentimental collection of handmade festive objects, each of which come with their own memories of our Christmasy weekends together.

Where do you keep it?

For 11 months of the year it is stored away, coiled up in newspaper, inside an old leather suitcase that used to belong to my girlfriend’s dad. At Christmas, they are strung up above our mantlepiece, hung from an artist print of a pair of lips which makes the garland look like some kind of necklace.

November 22, 2012

-What is it?

A tiny French-English dictionary 

-Where is it from?

Last year, my friend and I used to go to the Emmaüs second-hand “shop”. It is a French charity founded by l’Abbé Pierre. People give them stuffs for free, then, the members of the association, mostly homeless people, resell them at a very low price. By this time I was living in a very small town in the center of France, Nevers, which seems to has been isolated from the rest of the the world since the 70’s. Therefore, this town’s Emmaüs is full of treasures. 

-How did you come to have it?

As often, we went there to find costumes for a party (as far as I remember it was Bourgeois vs Hick (from a French movie)) but, as usual, we had a look to everything, especially the bookshop part. I found a lovely old French-English dictionary (not this one). When I went to pay for it the guy gave me this small one, as a bonus gift.

-Why is it important?

I have bought the first dictionary as a symbol of my move to London. It made sense, a French to English translation dictionary, from Nevers to London.  This guy used to give us so many free books, he was giving away everything being within reach. I reckon he was just happy to be here. When he gave me this other dictionary, putting it in my hand and telling me “ooh you like English?! So take this other one, take it, it is more practicle, take it, take it”, suddenly this new object was a much more stronger symbol.  It REALLY made sense then, not a sense I had made up, but a real sense. It was a gift and it was carrying a true memory, a true moment, this generous guy yet who had nothing of his own , Nevers, Emmaüs, my friends… Now, I do not even know where is the dictionary I have bought in the first place.

- Where do you keep it?

On my shelves, with other old books and the new ones. I do not look at it often, I do not even think about it. But I know it is there, and that is important to me.

June 7, 2012
What is it? a small pottery jug with a chip on the rim -Where is it from? Buckfast Abbey in Devon -there used to be a pottery there, at least there was in 1950 when my parents visited. -How did you come to have it? My mum died in January and I inherited it from her. -Why is it important? My mum met my dad in the war, in 1940. She was 17 and my father 18. They met in Woolworth’s where he was buying polish for his RAF buttons. They lost touch for awhile, as he was posted to Gibraltar, and in the interim she became engaged to a Canadian in the RCAF, who died in Feb 1945 (with all his crew) when his Halifax was shot down over the Baltic sea. My parents met up again in 1945. In 1950 they went on a motorbike trip all over the southwest, and although my mum always kept a diary, the one from 1950 is the only one that survives from these early years with my dad. They stopped at Buckfastleigh and bought the jug as a memento. My mum always spoke of this trip as one of her happiest times with my father; pre-babies and very much in love. They were both very good looking in their prime. I imagine them flying along the Devon lanes, no crash helmets, minimum of baggage and carefree. - Where do you keep it? on my mantlepiece, always with fresh flowers from my garden, and next to a photo of my darling ma.

What is it? a small pottery jug with a chip on the rim
-Where is it from? Buckfast Abbey in Devon -there used to be a pottery there, at least there was in 1950 when my parents visited.
-How did you come to have it? My mum died in January and I inherited it from her.
-Why is it important? My mum met my dad in the war, in 1940. She was 17 and my father 18. They met in Woolworth’s where he was buying polish for his RAF buttons. They lost touch for awhile, as he was posted to Gibraltar, and in the interim she became engaged to a Canadian in the RCAF, who died in Feb 1945 (with all his crew) when his Halifax was shot down over the Baltic sea. My parents met up again in 1945. In 1950 they went on a motorbike trip all over the southwest, and although my mum always kept a diary, the one from 1950 is the only one that survives from these early years with my dad. They stopped at Buckfastleigh and bought the jug as a memento. My mum always spoke of this trip as one of her happiest times with my father; pre-babies and very much in love. They were both very good looking in their prime. I imagine them flying along the Devon lanes, no crash helmets, minimum of baggage and carefree.
- Where do you keep it? on my mantlepiece, always with fresh flowers from my garden, and next to a photo of my darling ma.

June 7, 2012

What is it?

A segment of a branch, which was cut from high up a pine tree as the tree itself was being cut down. It’s roots were gradually rotting away and the council felt it was too much of a risk to leave it standing in case it fell. When the photo was taken it had washed ashore after almost a year at sea.

Where is it from?

Fox Rosehill Gardens in Falmouth. A public park next to the Woodlane campus of Falmouth University.

How did you come to have it?

The night before it was cut down, I slept next to the trunk and was woken by the tree surgeons arriving. From a little way away, I then watched the scene in perfect silhouette: a man climb and dissemble a mountain. I went back and collected one of the segments I had seen fall.



Why is it important?

One of the first advice posters for a project I run was designed by a friend and was of this tree. It said: ”For late afternoon sunspots (between May and August) find this big tree in the college gardens’

After it was cut down I went back and the top half of the trunk, minus it’s canopy and branches, was laid on it’s side amongst other cuttings, pine cones and sawdust. It felt so like a whale. Both it’s size and scale, but also that you never expect to see it so close. Something that had lived vertical up to 90 feet is lying horizontal. When looking at it, wonder is combined with a hesitancy at a lost privacy, that something which should be viewed with a craned neck and a squint, is right there in front of you and each knot and wrinkle can be compared against the size of your thumb, can be reached out and touched.

I didn’t want to forget my view of it, my memories of it and the feeling of it: something great, both in scale and strength of each decision made, carried through to the tip of each branch.

At the time it was cut down, I was trying to understand what it meant to me.  I still don’t quite know, a mixture of all these things, but marking it felt important. In doing so, the metaphors fall away, the understanding grows and I hope the feelings remain.

Where do you keep it?

At sea.

On the day I collected it, I took the branch to the beach and set it on the water. It was a difficult, school gate farewell. Afloat on the water it righted itself so the pine cones which grow from the trunk sat upright like survivors clinging to wreckage. In the dusk light it became unfamiliar, a body in the water, with an aquatic privacy, part hidden below the waterline.

A year later, I was overjoyed to find it again, washed where I had set it to sea almost a year ago. Though the wood was smooth, I could recognize the chain saw cuts from each side, I knew how far it fell and on what day, where exposed branches had been worn away. I took it home and when the sea was warmer, I swam out with it, as far as I could go, nudging it, floating with it, holding on and left it loose on the tide.

May 31, 2012
-What is it?
A lucky seed. I’ve never thought about what it is actually called until now - but apparently it is from Ormosia coutinhoi, or red horse eye bean. I don’t much like the sound of that name, so I’m sticking with Lucky Seed for now. It was really tricky to take a picture of - it’s much more orangey red and beautiful than it is in the picture!!!
-Where is it from?
Guyana, South America
 -How did you come to have it?
I found it on an excursion to the rainforest and was told it was a lucky seed. I was quite young at the time and I just remember them seeming so magical and unlike anything I had seen before.
 -Why is it important?
Partly because it reminds me of my heritage, my family and partly just because it is pretty and nice to hold in times of trouble. And maybe I do believe it’s lucky….
 - Where do you keep it?
I keep it in my purse, so that it is with me all the time. It’s really nice and smooth, so it’s nice to hold in your hand!

-What is it?

A lucky seed. I’ve never thought about what it is actually called until now - but apparently it is from Ormosia coutinhoi, or red horse eye bean. I don’t much like the sound of that name, so I’m sticking with Lucky Seed for now. It was really tricky to take a picture of - it’s much more orangey red and beautiful than it is in the picture!!!

-Where is it from?

Guyana, South America


-How did you come to have it?

I found it on an excursion to the rainforest and was told it was a lucky seed. I was quite young at the time and I just remember them seeming so magical and unlike anything I had seen before.


-Why is it important?

Partly because it reminds me of my heritage, my family and partly just because it is pretty and nice to hold in times of trouble. And maybe I do believe it’s lucky….


- Where do you keep it?

I keep it in my purse, so that it is with me all the time. It’s really nice and smooth, so it’s nice to hold in your hand!