Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meanings To Me

I've been thinking about the things that are most precious to me. Nearly all are simple gifts or 'found' objects and each is more important and meaningful to me than any of the expensive, luxurious things I own. They include:
A stone with a hole in it that I found on a beach in Norfolk, near my grandmother's house. It was the first time I saw her as an adult and the last time before she passed away. I wore it as a pendant for a number of years, with leather threaded through the opening. When I hold it, I see a film in my head of the time I spent with her.
A carved and delicately painted wooden bust of Buddha. The face is feminine and particularly beautiful and peaceful. I used to have it facing my bed, to watch over me while I slept. Now it sits on a makeshift altar in a corner of my home studio. I have taken it to every place I've lived since I bought it during my late teens.
A box from Papua New Guinea. Carved from a single, solid piece of wood, the lid slides open to reveal partitions, and a smooth half circle. It was intended (and used) for storing and mixing ingredients (calcium and daka or betel leaf) to add to areca nut to make a stimulant referred to as betel nut. There's still some residue on the wood. I keep small, precious pieces in there.
A small statue of the Madonna, carved in soapstone. I don't know where it's from, other than it was a gift from my dearest friend. It's been worn smooth in patches from being touched over many years.
A Buddha carved from a single piece of blood-red garnet, a gift from collectors of my work to whom I am very close. As a child, I used to fossick for raw garnets and sapphires in local creeks and waterholes. We found hundreds of them. They were kept in jars of water which we held up to the sunlight to look at, turning them around like home-made kaleidoscopes.
An inexpensive bangle that I bought for myself when I was in art school. It's silver, inlaid with pieces of black shell cut smooth and regular. I don't know why i like it so much, other than that it's been a rare constant in my life. I never take it off.
A small, sculptural hat pin in the shape of a crow that I found in a second hand shop, long ago. It's made of dull black plastic sequins, sewn to overlap each other. The feathers are cut out of the same plastic and sewn in a fan-like semicircle. It has a metal beak,and yellow beaded eyes. I wear it in my hair, when it is long. It's beautiful, but also a little sinister. I feel like it protects me, like eyes in the back of my head.
I often wonder what objects hold meaning for other people, what become their intimate fetishes, and why. Why not tell me about yours?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since she passed away, all the gifts I ever received from my sister have become my favourites and photos of her the most meaningful. She seemed to like to buy me wood craft such as cat bookends and a painted carving of a lion. She gave me a beautiful black jet pendant and then there were amber earrings which I lost. Another gift was a painted deborah halperin bowl with a woman's image scraped into it looking like she is swimming around the outer. There is lots of stuff, a wine coloured turkish type rug, clothes of hers some I adopted some she gave ealier that now feel more special to wear than anything I could buy. She gave with an embracing joy and loved receiving gifts herself. All the things associated with her are the bearers of memories and love.

VG (forgot my p/word)

JMeadows said...

I have a little gold-colored pebble that my little brother gave me when he first started preschool. He was misreable and spent the whole first day in the playground looking for something to give me. When my mother and I picked him up that day, he gave it to me and said "Here, sissy, I found you gold." That was 21 years ago.

When I was little, I found an odd shaped dark black rock in my grandmother's yard and I've kept it all these years. I used to call it volcanic rock but I've never actually found out what kind of rock it really is.

My grandfather made knives but I only have one of his. Its a tiny envelope opener that has its own stand that he carved. My parents gave it to me when I was in sixth grade one time when I got in trouble in school. They knew nothing they could say would be as bad as I already felt for getting in trouble, so they gave that to me to know they weren't mad.

Anonymous said...

An ice hockey puck given to me when I lived overseas for awhile. Two tiny japanese dolls sitting in a conker shell. Both represent the first time in my life when I was independent and had discovered what a fascinating place the world is. Two blue china bowls from the same time. There used to be five. I've cried each time one has broken.

Anonymous said...

An ice hockey puck given to me when I lived overseas for awhile. Two tiny japanese dolls sitting in a conker shell. Both represent the first time in my life when I was independent and had discovered what a fascinating place the world is. Two blue china bowls from the same time. There used to be five. I've cried each time one has broken. A hand drawn card from a great friend of mine that represents a time when we were close and life was an adventure.

The Celtic Year Project said...

Interesting post Hazel, thanks. I often find inspiration in these simple objects. Although not certain that the opals I have posted count as simple gifts...but it’s the same sentiment. Sally

Fi said...

In my study I have many many such objects :-) They are a constellation of inspiration-stars,lighting up the room as I write!

One of 'em - a block print that I call Moth Girl, which contains the girl and her androgynous love, and what I perceive sometimes as the girl's inner child and sometimes as other ... and the most beautify moth ... the colours are muted fawns and blues and I feel like I'm in a fairy tale every single time I look at it ...

I bought it in a corner-shop-that-wasn't-there-long in the north-east of England when I was 19 ...

some years later I was living in Braintree in Essex, and it was only then that I noticed a little label on the back of the picture that said it had been created in Braintree, Essex ...

I've had to leave various precious possessions behind when I've had sudden home moves, but not the Moth Girl picture

Fi
xx

Anonymous said...

my tattoos
my wedding ring
my niece

S x

fitzroyalty said...

When I was much younger I had an intense relationship with a woman who I often dreamed about (I rarely remember dreams now). One night I dreamed she left her bra under my pillow. When I told her of the dream I did so in an offhand way - it did not seem important. When I went to bed after she had been at my place I found her bra under my pillow. I kept it for years; long after the relationship had ended, passed through frosty distance to arrive at calm acquaintance, though never friendship. The years passed and when moving house I found it in a box with remnants of her art, my writing and old diaries. It no longer smelled of her so I put it in the pile of things to go in the charity bin. Your post brought this memory instantly to mind.