Posted by: okathleen | January 17, 2009

Non ex quovis ligno Mercurius fit…


I bet Mrs Barnby would like a bowl like this. It’s only little, you couldn’t get a pineapple in it, but you might manage several plums. She may already have one, or something similar, sitting on a cream doillie she crocheted herself. It might be on top of the telly or next to the fridge. If she doesn’t use it for fruit then her husband might use it for keys.

Mr Barnby is as tall and long as Mrs is lopped and plump. They work together, man and wife in the bakery on the high street next to the chemist and the barbers. She takes the money and he kneeds the dough. There’s a machine in the back to help. He showed me once, it’s vintage and he’s very proud of it. It clacks to a rhythm that puts a beat in the bread. It was very early, a Sunday in summer. That time between night and day when the sky is violet and the depressed are waking to peek around the curtains before wondering what to do in those four hours before breakfast.

I had been out – all night – on a bender, getting lashed, three sheets to the wind.

 A long time ago, before I became respectable and dull and safe.

I saw the light on in the bakery on my way home, walking alone through shadowy streets. Why was I alone? Dunno, some row? I knocked on the window, nobody came, so I banged on the door and his floury face appeared and grinned at me. He let me in and laughed. I asked for two sausage rolls and a cheese and onion pie. We had a chat, and I was shown the kneeding machine and left. And I sat on the bench next to the bowling green and ate.

And now, many years and one or two sausage rolls later, if Mr Barnby is ever in the shop, he winks at me.

Are my objects a collection or an accumulation?

“While the accumulator passively and uncritically amasses a motley assortment of things that pass his way, the collector actively seeks out only certain kinds of objects in which he is interested. The former maintains that the objects he accumulates may come in handy some day, hides them away and finds them a source of displeasure and mild shame. The latter either cannot explain why he collects, says he buys art because it gives him pleasure, or else rationalises his collecting as a form of investment… The accumulator lacks self definition and he tends to defer decisions. The things he collects have no clear cut symbolic significance. The collector, on the contrary, is often attached to certain kinds of objects rather than others because of their symbolic value, and he tends to use his collection.. to enhance his self definition. However some collectors buy so uncritically and in such large quantities that they resemble accumulators. This sort of collector is never a connoisseur.” (Frederick Baekeland, p206, objects and collecting,1994)

I think I might be a collumulator. I can tick boxes on both sides.

Freud next. And the soterial, and libidiousness, and the male v female creativity thread of objects…

And this is the bowl I bought last week from the man on the market who reads the Daily Mail with a magnifying glass. I like the story it tells, and the culture clash between the Western omnia vincit amor ending, and the Chinese live by the sword, die by the sword moral. But more than anything I love the way the inky indigo stain bleeds into the grey white clay and one becomes the other.


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