‘The knick-knacks in my home tell the story of my life’

Sep 27, 2020
Jacqui takes a walk down memory lane. Source: Getty

The sun streamed in and was like a benediction as it warmed me. I sat in the warmth and looked at my fireplace. Realiation came of the assorted the objects scattered on and around it.

What they meant to me seeped in too. It meant a whole view into a life, a snap shot of objects but also our history. There is a portrait of a long gone ancestor, the canvas found in a coal shed at my Grandma’s house. Retrieved and cleaned and wondered over; who was he? I was told he was from a famous linoleum making family and related to my paternal family.

The portrait smiles shyly at me a young man from the mid 1800s, still a mystery. The shoe last we don’t know any real origin, but as both our father’s repaired and put new leather on our shoes when we were children, could be from then. A bygone time when we repaired and made good instead of discarded. Little wall plaques are from holidays in Menorca in the 1980s.

Days of fun and wine; and endlessly cooking our bodies, then nights in snug bistros eating paella. I remember when we bought the little plaques as we had been to see the monument depicted on one. So I can recall the day, I was in a strapless dress and the heat was stunning. The tiny miniature on the shelf we bought when we lived in Bath. Halcyon days when we had a good business; and a great life. Wine and art shows and food fairs. I still wonder at its perfection, sadly a little damaged after an encounter with a leaping cat. But still it is a thing of beauty. The nude study was bought on a wintery day in a Wiltshire town; I was with a friend who dealt in antiques.

I was only along for the ride but loved buying small items if they had a kindly price tag. The young nude stares out at me, and I often wonder how old she was and what happened; why she bared all, her story would be interesting. She almost dares you to ask. There is ‘Fred the marble head’ found sitting in the middle of a country road. In fact we had been paddling in a stream in Wiltshire, three children and a dog. When my 7 year old found it and brought it to me.

Fred has been around the world with us. He came from England to Australia and has been in the garden and the house. I love him even if his nose is chipped. Mabel is the statue with the arm missing, she has been even longer with us. Husband found her in about 1960, abandoned on a tip. She is truly special, and we have loved her through the years. She sat on fireplaces and in gardens we had. Now she is there, just on a fireplace again, still serene. With a history we don’t know, who bought her? -where did she originate.

She stares ahead with a cold pewter stare. We have bellows, and horse brasses, some old, some pretending to be old. A beautiful eagle I found at an op shop, a strap of fake brasses found at a Lion’s sale. We are like hunters; we collect small treasures for our nest. In a very tiny frame is a treasure from the Wombat forest near Melbourne, we went gold panning, which was hilarious, but not very productive. We returned with this framed morsel, a speck of real gold, and a memory of a day out.

So these and my many diaries and boxes of letters make a background that is our lives. The places we have lived the treasures we have found. Yet sadly due to a life of contrasts and bad luck as well as good, we have had to sell many of our treasures. All my beautiful cups and saucers collected at antique markets in Bath, 50 or 60 bottles we dug up, at a Victorian tip area, some that beautiful pale green, some dark blue, many engraved, a first edition of an Italian photographer, (I actually sold to America) a Wedgewood cameo, all those treasures I will not be passing on. But at least I also don’t have to dust them, somehow that seems a positive. So will move from the sunny patch and stir the dust from my past.

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