A posthumous exploration of intimate everyday objects.
Made in England, Sheffield Steel.
A Retrospective of Quality assured.
Rite of passage
A daily ritual, twice for occasion.
A mark of adulthood to be neatened and curbed
Taming the beastly, too animal, too revealing.
Coarsening and stripping.
To be toned and tightened with scent.
Neat, slippery soft, tinted, scented.
The sting softened by design.
Dressed as desire
Need sold as want
Personal care imitating luxury
Must as indulgence.
What are we become?
An island and a half
Cut away, set adrift,
Manufacturers no longer making
A nation of shopkeepers.
With little left to sell
And few going to buy.
Not on the high street.
Goods and needs set adrift.
Quality assured now origin unknown
Loss of nation
An identity cherry picked for happier times.
Turning bad, masquerading as honesty.
Vulgarity and bigotry are being dressed as patriotism.
It’s out in the open, we haven’t moved on.
Our stiff upper lips and past strengths are falling away,
Flaking like rust.
The reality and hardships have been forgotten.
Advancements are taken for granted. “Those were the days”
“Great Britain” But what made Britain Great?
Industry, manufacturing, pulling together.
The promise of rights, equality and a better future and an understanding of what we had to lose.
Of strength in numbers, of unity.
Of having pride in being resourceful enough and having the resources needed to do a good job.
Now pointing fingers and corroded by frustration, a disjointed nation is left brittle and angry, unheard or unaware of what they have to lose.
The back door always stands open in the morning.
I barely remember it being shut, although I am sure it was, of having to open it, although I am sure I did.
The door stands open with my Grandad peeling spuds, just inside ready for the midday dinner.
A feeling of warmth, safety, happiness….family.
In my mind it is always a sunny day, every day, the sun pouring in over the threshold, and me, running in and out. Up and down the deep concrete step, white grey warm, and live with tiny, legged, blood red specks.
Rows of cabbages up the path, heaped potatoes inside and out.
Sunny mornings, and Grampy in the door way, knife in hand, peeling
Into the bowl with the mended handle.
A feeling of warmth, safety, happiness….family
“He will come back alive, I can see him walking up the path”
I believe her name was Mrs Prichard, the Rectors wife at North Wraxal, around the time of the Second World War.
She was also known to have some psychic ability, saw things it was said.
My Uncle was missing at the time, as it turned out a prisoner of war.
But nobody knew….
When all feared the arrival of a telegram….
Time was going by
“He will come back, I can see him walking up the path”.
Words of reassurance applied like a salve.
To the rawness of not knowing.
Years later it was often referred to by my Mum,
but I never asked if it helped to ease, I wish I had, or if anyone even believed.
This was a very different faith.
Layers caused by time, obscuring the detail, the image, spread like fat, smears of butter,
I have been looking at old portrait photographs.
The colours are pared back, simplified by age and process.
Not black and white, definitely coloured. Warm, bleached, honeyed, buttered. Creamed cake mix, honey and fresh butter on white bread, warm baked.
The details too are simplified in places. What remains is….enough. Maybe it was never there. Just what needs to be. What needs to be seen is seen.
The edge of nicety. The basics, with soft frills, sweetened without excess. Slab cake.
Honey was always Gales. Set. Pale, creamy, with a soothing colour.
Soft mat and rich, with a bloom like cotton velvet. Smooth sticky. Nature's plenty. Humble abundance.
I remember sitting on the carpet with Mum.
Worn, red woollen with white sprigs.
Threads are starting to show through from the backing,
Another afternoon we will colour these with a felt pen.
This is a holiday job, along with polishing the parquet in the hall.
All of the brass is spread over the floor on sheets of newspaper
ready for cleaning,
Pungent liquid is poured carefully from the can.
A pile of old dusters
One wipes the Brasso on and then rubs it off,
Another will be for the polishing after. My job.
It’s done and old lustre sits on smudged newsprint.
Our fingers coated, drying and uncomfortable.
A metallic tang and tarnish blackened cloths.
"Shabby metal, grey green dull with a sheen of bloomed tarnish, individual with use, time etched. Touched.
Hard plastics, bright, Bakelite crust edges, pie lidded, ivory and black.
Iced Gems 2014-15
Some years back I found a tiny arm on a beach, another time a leg, the best a tiny torso, perfect, statue like, a miniature Elgin but perfect in scale for tiny hands.
I was amazed that what had always seemed a fragile and inappropriate material for a children’s toy could also be so resilient to the natural wear and tumble of the waves, a remnant of childhood lingering. Biscuit baked fragility turned to strength, vulnerability to solid. Commonplace now curio.
I had never really thought much about dolls before, I had bought a couple of Frozen Charlottes at an Antique fair some years ago, a unexpected purchase, but they looked so out of context.
This year I bought lead battleships.
I have always been a beach comber, not for natural finds but traces of past, the detritus of the every day, of history, and every year coming back from my holiday with an assortment of oddments, mainly old china shards, beautiful decorative pieces, now made object in their own right.
The Babbers 2013-14
I have always had an interest in old photograph
I started looking at the crisp white bleached fabrics in the tiny photos.
I saw “Sunday Best” fresh-faced children.
Could I learn anything more by looking into the faces, staring into the details? Due to age and the softening effect of old photographic process the images already appeared edited, pared back. Would I just see an old photo of a child, innocent?
I drew them large, so I could really look into the faces, enveloped, almost shrouded, in bleach white cloth.
I found room for growth, a plumpness with dents and dimples, a softness, an excess in flesh.
I saw traces around the eyes of previous tears, the hollowness and rings of a broken nights sleep.
I also saw an unexpected hardness of expression.
The raised eyebrows and tight lips seem more than just the questioning hard stare of the innocent.
The helplessness of youth but with the eyes of an adult waiting to form.
With unease and apprehension.
The remnants of a long past emotion.
The Babbers on display in Ilfracombe