Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yellow & Turquoise

"'Selling gifts from an ex makes sense - I feel fantastic and I'm £20 richer,' says Natalie, 26, from Putney, who sold a yellow and turquoise Puma tennis dress on eBay. 'It was a horrendous birthday present from my boyfriend of two years. I forced myself to wear it twice but after we split I wanted it gone. I cringed remembering the moment he gave it to me - in a plastic bag in front of my friends in a beautiful restaurant. I'd already binned my photos of him and the dress was the last reminder I had left.'"

Tanya de Grunwald, Cashing in on the presents: selling the ex's gifts
thelondonpaper, 30 July 2008, p.13

Bright yellow raincoat

"Wrapped around and covering me, the raincoat represented my mother's triumph over my own will, and persistently reminded me of my dependence on her. In a fundamental way that I didn't consciously acknowledge, the coat came to represent my mother, and I loved and resented it as I loved and resented her.


My theoretical and narrative constructions in science and art are the same sort of protective gear as the impermeable coat that I once wore to primary school; they hold nature at arm's length, close enough so that I can make sense of it, but far enough so that I won't be overwhelmed."

Matthew Belmonte, The Yellow Raincoat, in Turkle, Sherry (2007) (ed), Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, p. 72 & 74

Presents from Molly

Curtain fabric from India, passed on by a friend

Embroidered monogram and edging on family sheet from the USA

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"A different tea-towel, and it was Africa."

"What was reliably best about childhood -- what I miss now it is gone, what being in hospital gave back to me -- was its spaciousness: the multiplicity of sensations to be extracted from the infinitudes of time inhabiting every day, the infinitude of spaces in even a modest house. In the oblong tent under the table, shielded by the tablecloth curtain and the palisade of familiar legs, at once in society and out of it; under the ironing board, hearing the hiss of the iron on sprinkled sheets, breathing the hot moist air with its inexplicable whiff of new bread [...] Crouched beside the sewing machine I confronted slavery long before I knew the term, as the black man built into my mother's Singer plunged and lunged in submission to her rocking foot. Squatting in the sawdust desert in the slatted light of under-the-house, a striped tea-towel on my head, I was in Arabia. A different tea-towel, and it was Africa."

Inga Clendinnen, MEMORY: EEL OR CRYSTAL?
Extracts from Tiger's Eye: A Memoir
Australian Book Review, February/March 2000 Issue No. 218

The blue dress

"When I got home, I hung up the blue dress in the closet. It was the only dress hanging there. [...]

I slept very well that night. My dreams were calm and happy. My brothers and sisters were envious. What a wonderful day.

But, I learned that there are disappointments under the rug of happiness in every room of life. My opportunity to play a musical instrument was not something my parents could afford. The satin blue dress and pearl bracelet were returned to the store the following Monday - as soon as my mother realized my dad did not have money left over for the rent after his alcoholic binge, which filled the remainder of the weekend.
But, I still have the memory of the weekend and the private time with my dad, sober - hanging in the closet of my mind and it shimmers with beauty."

A Woman's Writes, 29.7.2008

The Musgrave Collection

"A great-aunt of considerable age, nearing the end of her life, came to live with us [...] Mother looked after her in addition to her already heavy duties. Eventually, great-aunt Emma died [in 1924]. Her few clothes were disposed of. She died penniless. All that remained to mark her long years was her Victorian sewing box and some old newspapers. In later years I was to realise the significance of them. The newspapers were copies of 'the Times', some with dates before 1800, which now have a special 'readers' corner' in the Musgrave Collection. The sewing box was nothing to look at but when we opened the lid we found the inside completely covered with Penny Red stamps which she, as a little girl, had collected early in Victoria's reign when adhesive stamps had circulated for the first time! The newspapers and the sewing box are a constant source of interest to visitors as they read what the journalists wrote about historic events on the very day they had happened."

George H. Musgrave, The Musgrave Collection: A guide to the collection, p.5

The Musgrave Collection, 77 Seaside Road, Eastbourne BN21 3PL

Apron Strings

"Tied or pinned to a woman's apron strings - continually in a woman's company, unwilling to quit her side.

'If I was a fine young, strapping chap like you, I would be ashamed of being milksop enough to pin myself to a woman's apron-strings!'

'And as for her, with her little husband dangling at her apron-strings, as a call-whistle to be blown into when she pleases - that she should teach me my duty!'
A. Trollope"

James Main Dixon, English Idioms, Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd, London and Edinburgh, 1944, p.14

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hyperbolic Space

"Hyperbolic crochet is the product of an unexpected branch of geometry. For 2000 years mathematicians tried to prove the only possible geometries were of the flat plane and the sphere. Great minds expended themselves on the effort only to discover in the 19th century that a third option was available - hyperbolic space. Mathematicians' scepticism about hyperbolic space had been based in part on their inability to imagine what it would look like, they had no way of modelling it physically. Most were astounded when, in 1997, Dr. Daina Taimina, a Latvian émigré at Cornell University, presented a hyperbolic structure made with crochet. Nature, meanwhile, had discovered the form by the Silurian age. Corals, kelps, sponges, nudibranches and flatworms all exhibit hyperbolic anatomical features. Ways of constructing once perceived as 'merely' women's craft now emerge as revelatory of forms of a more complex, embodied way of thinking about the world both mathematically and physically."

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, The Hayward Project Space, South Bank Centre, London, until 17 August


"An angry Italian man has been arrested for shooting at his neighbour's underwear with a rifle. Massimo Lazzaretti, 69, shot holes in the woman's undergarments as they hung on a clothesline. Police said the two neighbours had fallen out, and Lazzaretti thought leaving bullet holes in the underwear would frighten her enough to leave him alone."

The London Paper, Monday 21 July 2008, p.7

Monday, July 14, 2008

Philosophy and Fringes 2

"... the fringe of vague intuition that surrounds our distinct - that is intellectual - representation. For what can this useless fringe be, if not that part of the evolving principle which has not shrunk to the peculiar form of our organisation, but has settled around it unmasked for, unwanted? It is there, accordingly, that we must look for hints to expand the intellectual form of our thought."

Bergson, Henri (1992), The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, A Citadel Press Book published by Carol Publishing Group, New York, p.49

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When we were Hippies

""When they are seen as fields of energy, human beings appear to be like fibers of light, like white cobwebs, very fine threads that circulate from the head to the toes. Thus to the eye of a seer a man looks like an egg of circulatating fibers. And his arms and legs are like luminous bristles, bursting out in all directions.

The seer sees that every man is in touch with everything else, not through his hands, but through a bunch of long fibers that shoot out in all directions from the center of his abdomen. Those fibers join a man to his surroundings; they keep his balance; they give him stability."

Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time, Penguin Books, London 2000, p. 29 & 30

Unimportant frills

"A warrior never worries about his fear. Instead, he thinks about the wonders of seeing the flow of energy! The rest is frills, unimportant frills."

Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time, Penguin Books, London 2000, p.32

Philosophy and Fringes 1

"Each perception is surrounded by a fringe of unlikelihood, of impalpable possibility."

Massumi, Brian (2002), Parables for the virtual, Duke University Press, Durham & London, p.91

Philosophy and Embroidery

"We perceive the resemblance before we receive the individuals which resemble each other; and, in an aggregate of contiguous parts, we perceive the whole before we perceive the parts. We go on from similarity to similar object, embroidering upon the similarity, as on their common stuff or canvas, the variety of individual differences."

Bergson, Henri (2004), Matter and Memory, Translated by Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer, Dover Philosophical Classics, Dover Publications, Inc. Mineola, New York, p.214, 215

Friday, July 11, 2008

Old Underwear

""Beryl invited me to the Holme Chase Hotel for a ladies' dinner and a brilliant talk by a Devon vicar's wife, Rosemary Hawthorne, entitled: A History of Underwear. [...]

Glamorous Mrs Hawthorne, ex-actress, mother-of-seven, whose husband is known as 'The Knicker Vicar' speaks with what my old mum would describe as 'a plum in her mouth'. Delving into her suitcases and delivering her talk in a Dame Judi Dench manner, she produced, with many a flourish, a hilarious assortment of antique underwear. There were split, ankle-length Victorian knickerbockers with attached braces, red flannel combinations which, as she explained 'Kept Jack Frost at bay, and every other Tom, Dick and Harry', and voluminous drawstring drawers nicknamed harvesters because, it is said, when they were fastened around the waist, 'all was safely gathered in'.

There were silk cami-knickers and, from the Second World War era, knitted knickers (very scratchy), elasticated artificial silk 'one yank and they are down', and Wrens' khaki 'passion killers'. The piece de resistance was a pair of fleecy-lined, bottle-green bloomers with a little hanky pocket. [...]

When Mrs Hawthorne held aloft a huge greyish pair of men's pure-wool underpants (circa 1949), explaining that, for a collector, they are like gold dust as very few survived being cut up for dusters, she brought the house down."

Val Hennessy, Knickerbocker Glory, in Saga Magazine, November 2003, p.24

Hairnet & Stocking

"Although usually viewed as something ordinary, functional and familiar, these modern-day digital photograms reveal stockings and hairnets as objects of beauty and intrigue. Duigenan fetishizes intimate female apparel in a manner which is not only scientific in its archaeological approach, but also displays a delicate, flirty sensuality.
The machine-manufactured stockings, crisply detailed in their softness and overlapping textures, contrast with the often hand-woven hairnets dating from the 1920s to 1950s. The fact that many of these hairnets were made from real human hair, sets up all kinds of musings. Whose hair? Who knotted and wore the net? Because it never dies, hair is a curiously emotive thing — the Victorians commonly collected it as memento mori."


Friday, July 04, 2008

Everyday is special

"A sheet. This a pure linen sheet. My grandmother brought sheets from Scotland when she first came to Australia in 1919. They were big queen size sheets that had been given to her mother for a wedding present in the 1880’s. This sheet had been cut in half and turned when the middle became worn then when that happened again it was cut into a single sheet and hemmed. Most people in the family had one at some time. They were hard and white and cold when you got into bed.

The sheets remind me of my childhood, getting into bed on a hot night and feeling the coolness of the sheet and in winter taking a hot water bottle to bed to try and get warm. It also reminds me of my grandmother who I loved very much.

I like to use things everyday and not keep them put away somewhere for special. For me every day is special. I use things until they wear out."

From my correspondence (28, 2008)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

White sheet - red flag

In Bertolt Brecht’s poem ‘Rapport from Germany’ (1935), workers raise a red flag on the factory roof. The storm troops approach and brutally beat up the workers who refuse to name the person who did it. The next day, again there is a red flag on the factory roof, but when the storm troops approach, only women are there – looking at the roof in silence. They too are beaten and interrogated and tell their tormentors that this flag is the sheet in which one of the workers was carried home and died: ‘we are not to blame for the colour, it is red from the blood of someone who was murdered.'

"Und das Pruegeln beginnt wieder. Im Verhoer
Sagen die Frauen aus: Diese Fahne
Ist ein Bettlaken, auf dem
Trugen wir gestern einen weg, der gestorben ist.
Wir sind nicht schuld an dieser Farbe, die es hat.
Die ist rot von dem Blut des Ermordeten, wisst ihr."

Brecht, Bertold (1984), Die Gedichte von Bertolt Brecht in einem Band, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, p. 545, 546

Flags of Freedom

A story about sheets and flags is told by Erich Kästner in his diaries “The flags of freedom" (4.5.1945). After the defeat of Germany which ends the occupation of Austria, the new administration orders the immediate display of the red and white Austrian flag on all houses. Kästner describes how on his evening walk through town, behind every window women can be seen unstitching the white swastika from the German flag which has become illegal overnight and sewing the red fabric together with cut up sheets to comply with the new rules … while their men shave off their Hitler moustaches. The next day, the town is decked in the new national flags – only fade marks betray their origin - like the marks left by the removal of the Führer’s picture on the living room wallpaper.

Erich Kästner, Die Fahnen der Freiheit, in Strich, Christian (ed) (1978), Das Erich Kästner Lesebuch, Diogenes, Zürich 1978, p.174 - 176

Remembering JFK 2

"... I was at home with my parents when a news flash came onto the TV, I was so shocked, waiting for the newspaper the next morning reading everything I could not believing that this had happened a nightmare, pictures of Mrs Kennedy in her blood stained suit ... reading and hiding from everyone ... tears flowing down my face ..."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience 2006

Remembering JFK 1

"Absolutely my very first memory is of watching John F. Kennedy's funeral on television. We had a sitter, an older woman who stayed with me and my younger brother while our mother was not home that day. The sitter was watching the funeral on TV and I remember sitting on our big beige sofa (it had sparkly silver threads in the fabric) and she explained that JFK was the president and he had been shot. His little boy John (who was about my same age at the time) had been given a U.S. flag by someone and he had asked for one for his daddy, without quite realizing that his dad was gone. I remember the sitter telling me that, but where or when she got the information is not clear to me now. In retrospect I don't remember pictures of the funeral, just that it was on and it was explained to me."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience 2006


"l was born in Jan 1942 and one of my earliest memories is walking down the pavement of the road where l lived in Blackpool. lt is a hot sunny day and l think it must be mid afternoon. l seem to be by myself. l am walking along the road looking at the row of houses on my left. l can see their windows and gardens and l suddenly see that a lot of the houses have big red white and blue flags flying from their upstairs windows. l can see they are what l now know to be the Union Jack. l find this unusual and exciting and l then have a Fast Forward memeory. l am back home asking my mother why we can't have a flag too. l can;t remember what she says but l feel disappointment that our house isnt sharing in the [literal] air of excitement. l assume this was VE Day, when l was 3 years and 5 months."

BBC Radio $ Memory Experience 2006