06 July 2010

heart of glass

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?


Rattling On said...

It's nice to think of things going to someone who'd appreciate them. I often hang onto stuff because I think it's just too good to get rid of!! The glass heart is lovely, a great swap.

Liz said...

Ooh, now you've got me thinking. There's a shelf on the bookcase in the living room which has the most varied collection of bits and pieces in the whole house (which I should point out is full to the rafters with clutter). I definitely couldn't part with the money box I had as a child, a little wooden Hansel and Gretel musical house complete with witch. There's also a candle my daughter made when she was at primary school and a set of Russian nesting dolls the mister bought me one Christmas long ago. I could probably let go of a little house shaped pottery box that I bought whilst on holiday to add to a collection. Wonder what I would choose in return?crece

Liz said...

I don't know why the word verification has appeared there!

knit nurse said...

My shelves have a range of things that are either useful or decorative, sometimes both, as well as the latest postcards and invitations. One item I particularly love is a 1950s/60s 'sputnik' style cigarette lighter which an ex bought for me when I used to smoke. It hasn't been used for years but I still look on it fondly and remember the day when he brought it back proudly from a local charity shop. The glass heart is really beautiful, I wonder where it came from?

jane said...

what a wonderful project - how lovely to think of the memories behind the things you swap for, and to know that it has meaning. I love that heart - so organic and beautiful.
The shelves I see before my eyes are bursting with books old and new, and dotted about with various photos, pretty teacups, candles, a cakestand, a couple of New Yorker covers in clip frames, a type writer, a free-cycled tagine, a shiny silver pear, greetings cards, bottles of nail polish, the telephone....
I can't think what I would let go... but I know what you mean about dealing with 'stuff', and the keeping/abandonment thereof. Because sometimes it really does feel like it's the memories one is abandoning, not the object itself.

Felix said...

I saw that piece when I visited the Whitstable Biennale for the Soundwalk... I thought it looked like a beautiful idea, such a lovely piece about the value of those things which crowd shelves and which take on such value and meaning.

I love your heart of glass and I expect someone will very much enjoy the cool marble egg that you left behind.

I am an epic hoarder but I did think when I read about the art piece in the Whitstable Satellite, that I should like to surrender a knitted mushroom, perhaps a beeswax candle, and maybe a button-card to the collection.

colleen said...

Such lovely comments. Thanks to you all.