Monday, 17 September 2012

Barcelona Day Bed + Blanket

Still in the same room (as all the typewriters) - here's our 'spare' bed, for guests to enjoy a night's sleep at our place, which is also often used in the day for as quiet place to read - it is called a 'day bed' after all.
The symposium I went to last week led by Space Place Practice  got me thinking about a lot of things, which I'll write about in the next few comments. One of which came up was the idea of liminality - it's put quite simply in another blog that is dedicated to travel, which I think is the most easiest experience of liminality to understand and empathise with ...

'Liminal experiences are those that are characterized by transitions from one state of being to another. Tourists experience liminality when they transition from a home-based state of being to a travel-based state. Liminality also occurs during rights of passage, such as graduating from school, becoming married, becoming a parent, or becoming a new employee of a company. The liminal experience is one of becoming something different, and is potentially transformative, with a shedding of the old and a creation of something new, but also a period of vulnerability and weakness in the face of an uncertain future.'

I've been going through some kind of liminal experience in each room I blog about - (I and) the room always changes in some way afterwards - the space (of the room) becomes a liminal one (in my head at least) when I begin to analyse it. I think I am going through a shift within myself anyway, so therefore this has led to me (through this project) analysing how I live, the objects and items I live with, and their placement within my home - and, in turn, how this affects my life.

I have also been thinking about nostalgia and the idea of using the old to help us apply new meanings to the future. There was a great line in the symposium which I wrote down. "You can't ignore the past, but you don't have to stay there." A bit more about that tomorrow ...

Any similar thoughts P?

Tues 18 Sept.
There were interesting comments from Artist Jane Bailey who's current art practice focuses on engaging with and evoking the lives of older adults in rural North Cornwall. Her work both explores and generates connections between people, and between people and places, which reflects on the contemporary art processes that she employs including: conversing; recording; editing; reflecting; balancing. She has been working with people who have dementia, and was talking about them in reference to being nostalgic, and people often remembering events from their past much more clearly than occurences that had happened recently. As their long term memory is so much clearer than their short-term, they are actually existing in two places, at any one time.

I'm wondering if objects and items from the past, give us more of a sense of 'belonging' than the fabric of the homes that we currently live in. Items that I surround myself with (in my home) seem to make much more sense of 'my position in the world, now.' I know that if I see a photograph of, or an item from our 'family' home it has so much more resonance, and is full of potency, but I couldn't look at those objects on a daily basis.

In relevance to the above, maybe I should comment about the blanket on the bed ...?


  1. Hi A - this is in response to the first part of your post, it was written before I saw yesterdays addition, I'll comment on that later!

    So, lots to muse over. I must admit to having a smile on my face as I read this post. My colleague J who you have meet a few times in the print room, is quite obsessive about the word ‘liminal’ – and it is an in-joke to see how many times he can include it within a conversation or student project brief etc; so to read about it within the context of this project was very interesting. I find it fascinating that your relationship with the spaces you inhabit is going through some form of change as this project develops; the same cannot be said of me, although I have partly re-decorated one of the rooms since we began this process (before and after shots coming soon!). What has really resonated though, are your previous comments about de-cluttering and changing spaces to suit your lifestyle, as opposed to using a space in a traditional or expected way; although I am yet to put this into practice, I did suggest to D that we consider a car boot in the not too distant future – I have only ever done one – and hated every minute – so this is a big step for me! Watch this space…

    Now nostalgia – B sent me a link to a great article by Ellen Lupton, I’m not sure if you have seen it:

    It discusses family heirlooms and how we often feel obligated to keep them. She discusses how heirlooms are discarded by some, and considers rental cubicles to be a costly form of denial ‘you don’t really want these things – so you send them away…’ and likening this to keeping objects on a life-support machine. I found I could identify with quite a lot of what she said, so perhaps like you, this process is gradually affecting me too.

  2. That's very funny - the comment about J and 'liminal' - I guess it is one of those words to be joined with juxtaposed, context, commonality, referential etc., etc.
    Before and after shots would be great - looking forward to seeing them.
    The Ellen Lupton link is great, and has given me good fodder for the Manchester gig - thank you P & thank you B! It resonates a lot r.e the psychological shifts that we go through in terms of our relationships with the objects that surround us. I quite like the idea of fruits and vegetable seeds as heirlooms though, it gives you the choice of whether you grow them or not, and they don't take up much space either!
    I decided against a car boot in the end and just did recycling centre, e-bay, and charity shops - I thought the experience of a car boot would be quite hard, as there's no guarantee of selling the stuff, and I thought that I would be very dispirited about bringing it all home again. Though I would find it quite fascinating to see who bought each object I had for sale. I guess you have to look on it as a positive venture, and maybe decide to have a plan B, if you don't sell everything on the day?
    I must say, since changing room uses more to suit our lifestyle, really works well. Plus people seem to quite like camping out and eating in my studio, as a novel idea.
    I guess I stopped worrying too much about what others might think, and thought more about how the spaces would work better on a daily basis, rather than the occasional.

    I think the process is affecting you P.

    Lofts, cupboards, boxes, are all containers that we have within the home that can be hiding/holding places. I liked the fact that EL confessed to only actually having a few 'proper' family heirlooms in her home. I wonder how many 'real' heirlooms we have?

  3. Yes, after my last post I realised I had been contradictory, you are absolutely right - I am being affected by this process. I am an e-bay novice, but quite like the idea of using it to de-clutter; perhaps I should give it a go? I know that it is only sentimentality that makes me hold onto objects that are sealed within boxes and unopened for years; and it's not as if I have anyone to leave these inherited items to. Maybe I could be like EL and limit myself - unfortunately I am very fond of charity shops and can't resist other people's unwanted heirlooms too!

    So, I would now like to hear about the blanket please, as I haven't really commented on your lovely space in the photo of this post.

  4. Yes, do it P, selling items on e-bay can be a fun experience, and a cathartic one too. Though, I think in the 'real world' charity shops, junk shops and flea markets etc. will always have a charm - that of 'finding a bargain', or not 'knowing what you may find', the thrill of the experience etc.

    The blanket. Well it's made by a lady called Trudy from
    Tegryn, Llanfyrnach, in Pembrokeshire. She sells products she has made from her own flock of Jacobs' Sheep, at Haverfordwest's weekly Farmer's Market. It really reminds me of Wales, and especially where my Mother lives. Though more than that, as it's made by hand, there's something personal about the people and the sense of place that it holds, and as it is a blanket, also the feeling it gives.
    There was a Welsh word mentioned (at the Symposium): Hiraeth, which I think sums it up quite nicely.
    Wikipedia says - Hiraeth /hɪəraɪ̯θ/ is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. However, the University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the Wales of the past. 'Hiraeth' bears considerable similarities with the Portuguese concept of 'Saudade' (a key theme in Fado music) and the Galician 'morriña' and Romanian 'dor'.

  5. Whereas I tend to be (overly) attached to objects, because they belonged to someone I knew, this attachment seems quite different. I’m not sure that I am able to draw any parallels in terms of an attachment relating to a place or heritage (but I will give this more thought).

    I’m particularly interested in the idea of the handmade though, and how, when combined with other personal associations, this contributes towards making the blanket special. Do you know, or have you met Trudy? – I have always presumed that a hand-made object holds more significance when we know the person? I remember my father keeping his cuff links in a fabric covered yogurt pot on his bedside table – it was a crudely made childhood project from my infant school days; but he loyally kept it for years.

    And maybe, as you allude to, it’s because the object is a blanket; these in themselves can hold special feelings or memories. I can picture really clearly the blanket that covered my brother’s pram; and whilst as a child, I never became attached to a ‘comfort blanket’ – I did have a favourite blanket with a satin edge, which I would twiddle whilst sucking my thumb at night.

    The ‘Hiraeth’ is a new word for me, and I intend to muse on it!

  6. Yes, it's interesting to hear that Hiraeth doesn't have a full English translation. Although this of course is not my particular Heritage, I wanted to use the blanket as a signifier to discuss it.
    I've been thinking that I don't feel that sense of 'belonging' that I did when I was a child. the feeling of having a very particular home, and a place to 'be.' Does the 'sense of place' revolve more around items and objects when we leave the 'family home'?
    The handmade is fascinating for the 'signature' or traces of the maker and their materials - regarding the blanket - yes, I've met Trudy a few times. When I bought a couple of scarves from her to take as presents when I visited the US, she sent me a card which had a photo of her flock on it. There was a moment of delight when the recipients of the scarves viewed the picture depicting the 'sources' of their winter warmers!

    Objects, depending on the materials they are made from, holding other narratives - I find second hand gloves really evocative on that score, though a bit too overwhelming if you knew the person to whom they belonged.

    The story about your Dad's cufflinks holder is just delightful - made from a yoghurt pot, makes it all the more endearing.

    When I last visited my Mum, she opened some letters when the post came, and I realised she was still using the clumsily-made letter opener I fashioned in woodwork class, when I was twelve!

    A satin edged blanket to twiddle sounds divine and very comforting. I too hadd no comfort blanket, but did have small toy lamb, 'Lambsy' - he had (still has) pale blue velvet lining on the inside of his ears. I remember running them over my lips for the feeling of softness, and comfort it gave.

  7. I know what you mean about the sense of belonging being different when you are a child. For me, it could be because my entire childhood until I left home was spent in the same house; I wonder if, for people growing up in the 60s/70s this was the norm? Most of our close neighbours were the same throughout childhood – we called them ‘Aunty’and ‘Unlce’ for some reason! My parents separated when I was about thirteen, so unfortunately our home was no longer a place of happy family memories, although it did still offer a sense of security.

    I agree that in later life, objects do take on added meaning in relation to ‘sense of place’ – perhaps this is why I am surrounded by so much family memorabilia! I also have the odd piece of furniture from the family home; although strangely it is the objects that hold greater significance.

    I love the fact your Mum has also kept something that you had probably long forgotten about, and she still uses it! My friend T when her daughter was much younger, and wanted to paint a picture, would restrict the paint palette so that she only made paintings with 'nice' colours, therefore T didn't have to display murky brown artworks in the kitchen (genius!).

    Coincidentally, I had a white rabbit with pink velvet inside her ears, I too loved the feeling of the velvet.

  8. I have the idea that more people move house more often now, than they used to, but have no proof of this. I too lived in the same family house from when I was born (I was born at 'home') to when I left home, just turned eighteen.
    I also had 'Aunties' and 'Uncles' who were some of my parents friends, not blood relatives. Our neighbours in the road were mostly older people, and a lot of people kept their front door's open during the day. I remember Mr.Downs especially as he used to have these amazingly clipped tall box hedges in the front garden that were shaped to form animals, a dog a fox etc. - he used to leave his own glasses on the fox's nose, so it would be bespectacled, just for a joke!

    I guess objects are more portable, and once they are inherited, can be carted from place to place without too much trouble (depends how many!). Although it was quite common for furniture too be passed on too. I also have furniture, but just one piece (we'll see that later on). I think you are right, P. The objects do hold that 'sense of place' although it may be a place or signifiers in/of history, rather than that of our everyday life.

    T is a genius, seeing that most children's mixed colours come out varying shades of brown. I have a few of my nephew's drawings, and felt lucky - I liked the fact that he wanted to 'draw' and with a 'ballpoint pen' so they have a certain graphic style to them.

    How lovely that you had a velvety toy pet too; and that's nice for me to hear that you had the same feeling about it. I liked it so much I was over the moon when, a few years older, I found a small creature at, I think, a Church Fete or Bazaar. I believe it's supposed to be a mouse, but it's quite unclear. It's made from a deep maroon velvet with wool sewn on, the stitches fashioned into eyes, ears and whiskers. Also a tail made from a thin strip of pink felt. It's called Purple Pal, and I still have it. The velvet is a little worn!

    Anyway, I'm digressing a little. Maybe I should mention the Day Bed?

    P.s. I have made so many spelling mistakes in my comments over time, I'm just hoping the meaning is still there!

  9. I love the sound of Mr Downs – what a lovely character; I suspect that sort of thing is (sadly) a rarity these days – someone would probably pinch the specs!

    Anyway – onto the day bed please.

  10. The day bed was quite a recent purchase, as it's taken a long time to find a solution to the 'guest bed' without the 'guest room' conundrum. So this seemed like a good idea. A quiet space for reading and daily use, and any guests we've had staying over don't seem to mind bunking up with our collection of books and typewriters too much (!).
    It allows us to actually use the room constantly, rather than have a whole room put aside just for occasional use.

    Ahem, and it's obviously a copy of the Mies Van Der Rohe Barcelona Day Bed - sigh.

  11. This is another example of your practical and common sense approach to the utilization of space! This seems a very good solution to me; I think the idea of using each room in such an adaptable way is quite liberating and makes perfect sense, it also highlights how little some of the upstairs rooms within our house are used. I am beginning to realize that I could easily inhabit a much smaller space and I’m looking forward to downsizing. I was speaking to one of D’s sisters and her husband about this. They bought their first house when they were very young (about 20); they have moved house several times – always upgrading – and they are now at that stage when they intend to sell in the next year or so, and it will be the downsize move – full circle.

  12. As I have my studio in the downstairs front room, we are in effect losing a 'reception' room, so it made sense to have another room that although quite sparsely furnished (apart from the typewriter collection!) was a multi-functional (study/library/work) room, including a place for guests to stay. Interesting that you highlight how little some of the upstairs rooms are used. I initially had my studio in this room, but it didn't 'feel' right, so moved downstairs!
    Great to hear about D's sister's changing attitudes to the size of her house. I wonder if it will be a freeing experience to downsize after upgrading for so long? Plus, I guess there has been a lot of pressure particularly in the 80's and 90's that bigger = better and culturally to show your wealth/status in society through your possessions. Although this has always existed in our culture to some extent.
    So, I wonder what you would be looking for in a smaller property P, any ideas?

  13. I think some of the original pressure to 'upgrade' with every house move, was the perception that your money was safe in property, and therefore it made sense to plough any profits back into a bigger, more expensive home - unfortunately this is not necessarily the case. D has become obsessive about Zoopla in recent days - our neighbours (at the other house) are moving and a colleague told him about this site. He spent several hours back tracking through all our previous properties to see how much or little we sold them for - after 2007 everything seems to take a downward slide. I'm not sure I agree with this site, it seems rather intrusive.
    In terms of downsizing - a garden would be important, I don't think I could live anywhere without an outside space, however small. I think there is sometimes a danger when people move or downsize (I've seen numerous TV programmes to support this!) that they insist on buying a house that will accommodate a favourite piece of furniture, rather than thinking about their lifestyle – I’m hoping downsizing will be a form of liberation!


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