Our house has a mantelpiece in every room. They are all very different - some quite formally set up - candlesticks, photos, fancy china or whatever. Others are more, well, organic I suppose. Stuff comes and goes more quickly. The one in our kitchen is one of these. Apart from cleaning it, a bit of a chore, it is the place where the comings and goings of day to day life are most frequently recorded - greeting cards, postcards from friends, invitations, flowers from the allotment, a pot full of keys, the odd seashell or button. It also has a provenance. A friend made it for us out of the discarded wood from the booking office at Liverpool Street Station, a place that has been the starting point of many outings and holidays to the east coast - Walton on the Naze, Frinton, Cromer (I would still rather go by train than drive to any of these places).
Last week there were some new arrivals and departures from the mantelpiece as a result of my clearing out some of the storage boxes in our cellar - a lovely thank you card for a gift, a marble egg, a silver egg cup, a bottle opener in the shape of a hard hat. And it was from these items that I decided to make an exchange as part of Kate Murdoch's 10x10 Project, a satellite project of the Whitstable Biennale. It's worth reading Kate's description of the project because the idea of having too much stuff, how difficult it is to discard material goods that have strong memories attached to them that increase their value even though their monetary worth may not be much, is one that I think about quite often, and without really being able to get on top of it.
You can see our bartered objects in these photos.
John swapped of one of his balls of string for a packet of sewing needles which he gave to me - a very generous gesture given that he is often the victim of those I have lost or discarded. This seems a fair swap of one work accessory for another - he is also a great lover of string and those perfect little balls of string sat on our mantelpiece for some while in perfect symmetry before I cut some.
I swapped my marble egg, perfect for cooling sweaty palms in hot weather. I suppose I had already got over the attachment to the egg, otherwise it would not have been in the cellar in the first place. My swap was for this:
- a little heart of glass which was exactly the same colour as the top I was wearing. The heart is nowon my bedroom mantelpiece. I thought it would be a good reminder of not getting too attached to things. Like Blondie.
So what's on your shelves? And would you be prepared to swap any of it?