16 Nov 2018

For the love of things

When I was a young girl, it was the most obvious fact in the world to me that we shouldn't be too attached to ‘things’.  Loving things, particularly posh and fancy things, was a weakness reserved for foolish old women, and flashy men with no taste.  Experiences and relationships were what mattered the most - after all, who needs to clutter up their space with meaningless objects?  Particularly when all you can afford is IKEA flat-packs and grubby cast offs and have no space to house them in...

A little treasured memory from a riverside in China
Since leaving school, I’ve never lived anywhere more than three years. All our homes have been practical choices, the minimum amount of space required for the meanest price, and we have made the very most of them, squeezing out every last drop of enjoyment but knowing in the back of our minds that we will soon be packing up and moving on.  The first home I remember - my childhood home - was the longest stint to date, and the most clearly defined in my mind.  What I remember is not which days were the recycling pick-ups, or which rooms could fit a fold out bed, or the efficiency of the central heating.  No - I remember the touch and feel of things.  A peeling corner of wallpaper.  The careworn kitchen table.  Warm garden walls in the sun; their sandy texture, the dusty, metallic smell of them, and the minuscule red spiders that would gather on the surface, glowing specks of colour against the grey.

We moved out from there years ago, turning that place from practical reality to crumbling memory forever.  In the years that followed, my extended family’s houses became the only places that stayed just the same.  I remember visiting my aunt and uncle’s house and loving all the tiny ornaments that hid in corners; a gift put down carelessly on a shelf and crystallizing there over a decade, becoming precious in it’s permanence like an ancient artifact in a museum surrounded by velvet rope.  I would dare to move these things and see a ring of white beneath, nude surface untouched by the light of uncounted years, and quietly move them back into place with a stealthy reverence.

I remember trying to explain this to my aunt and she was heartily embarrassed and expressed a desire to dust more.

Maybe it’s because I’ve reached the age of thirty this year, or because we have just bought our first home together, but I’ve rarely felt so attached to all the things surrounding me as I am now.  All those wholesome experiences with my friends and family passed by in a flash, and what is left from the burning embers of those good times are these symbols, saturated with meaning and memory.  Somehow they seem to represent a little piece of love, in the very simplest way - there.  Present. Permanent. Yours to keep and yours to share with everyone in the place that you call your home.

It's not just aesthetic - genuinely need this fire (and cat) for heat
One of those small secrets in our new house
This is my new house - and my lovely cat - getting warm in our living room in Catcott, North Somerset.  Quite amazingly, we have managed to buy our first home filled to the brim with beautiful antique furniture.  So not only have we ample space to fill with our present possessions, and a promising studio space for me to boot, we have also inherited a collection of handmade oak furniture each with a story to tell that I can only guess at.  I feel like we've won the Homeware Lottery!

Once we've finally settled in (ie. unpacked), I'm very excited to get to making myself some of our own lampshades and fabric designs.  I've always wanted to design for an entire space so looks like I am going to be my own best customer.  After my latest night-time-nature inspired collection is all done and dusted, I will take great pleasure in redoing shades for some of those enormous old-fashioned lamps, and updating the kitchen units with my own bespoke farmhouse doorknobs, complete with little fruits and veg perhaps, or with matching tea-towels?  It's fun to dream...

Our wedding pictures set up alongside my grandparents' wedding china
I feel I am finally finding my place here, and collecting and designing things for the home has become a very enjoyable part of my life.  I love to make art, but I also love to make a home and so creating homeware where these two things meet now seems not at all materialistic but wonderfully, warmly right.

Alongside my excitement, I'll admit I have dropped myself into the Somerset Levels with no small amount of fear.   It is a journey into the dark, quite literally as there are no streetlights here in the village.  At the moment, I feel a little like a leaf shivering on the end of a branch, clinging to my new home with frail determination.  And it's plenty problematic; heating problems abound, and we are miles from anywhere.  But in some ways that's what I like the most about it.  It's a real life adventure, and I can't wait to go exploring and see what will inspire me next. 

  I haven't even told you about what's surrounding us right outside the front door,
 but I’ll have more to say about that in my next post...

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