Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Eloquent Object

I am thieving the title of this post from an exhibition of furniture I once saw at the SAM. I'm still turning the phrase over and over in my mind.

I love the thingness of things. My room is cluttered with figures, photos, postcards, colors, and pieces of paper. K, I know, fears I'll end up being like one of the Grey Gardens women. I like being around things to handle and touch, to smell, to hear. Things become repositories of memory; they are capable of giving small parcels of beauty. These are subjectively beautiful, not expensive, things - sometimes changeable things.

Being surrounded by beautiful things, even small snippets of paper and buttons, is important to me. Here is my homage to the things that currently give me aesthetic pleasure.

1. A Book (of course). These Penguin Classics are beautifully cloth-bound (despite what my boss, Robert, says about overpriced books sans dust jackets) and every bit worth the money. I have Cranford, which is green and covered in a recurring pea design. They are books that look and feel like books.

2. A Potted Hyacinth. This is a little potted hyacinth that K gave to me on Valentine's morning. I'm a bit of a black thumb and hope that this bulb will succeed much better than Lord Voldemort (last year's potted plant) did. When I was given it, this hyacinth was nothing more than a grainy bulb and a few green shoots. It is now budding, and growing upwards and outwards thanks to the sun we've had this week.

3. A Vase of Tulips. The tulips are wilting now, but when I see them on our sparse wooden table from across the room, and the stippling sunlight, I think of Vermeer. I love these colors together, the rich yellow and purple. Watching the new BBC Emma last week, I felt gratified when I saw a room at Highbury containing yellow and purple tulips just like these.

4. A Lamp. Almost my favorite item in my room is this patterned lamp. I saw it at Goodwill for $30 and resolve to buy it. It was on sale and I walked away with if for $1. It brings a textured richness to my desk. I read under it.

5. A Mug. A gift from my friend Laura, K and L and I went to Painting the Town and painted a mug, which was subsequently fired. I was quite pleased with the mug, though it was less tidy than I had hoped. It was based on a pattern of a medieval Mediterranean rug pattern.

6. Scarves. Specifically the pink and the green, a color combination worn extensively by Emma in the new production.

7. Paper. I bought a set of writing paper derived from Parisian marketplace designs. I love letters. I'm hoping to write some really good ones on this paper.

8. Buttons. My friend Jessica gave me a tube of buttons, which I sorted and lined up on my window sill so that the sun would create little balls of contained color. This has yet to reach its full effect, but it's coming along nicely.

I join Winifred Potter in hungering after "a vision for living...with beautiful things. With subtle colours, and changing lights, and old wood, and yellow and white roses." A sublime vision. You can hear the wind going through the house.


Elizabeth said...

I have been too intimidated to embark on these four novels, but maybe I should bite the bullet and give them a try! I loved Possession, but it is infamously her most accessible work. If you aren't Byatted out after A Whistling Woman, I absolutely loved her collection The Matisse Stories.

Shelf of One's Own said...

I've heard those are good! I'll have to try them. Thanks, Elizabeth.