Faith Puleston

Herdecke, Germany

Please call in at one of my blogs, e.g. http://faithatart.blogspot.de. / I’ve been ill recently, but I’m gradually updating...

Hunters and collectors unite...

The last 10 days or so have been full of creative energy – but not for painting or writing, unfortunately. I have instead been writing new arrangements for my barbershop chorus and – because it was unavoidable – trying to sort out the mess in my studio.
I expect you’’ve asked yourself the same question: How did all this stuff get here?

Possessions are like a creeping menace, or the jungle. If you don’t keep them under control, they will eventually smother you.
So why don’t we manage to throw things away before they become a nuisance? Or rather, why don’t I manage to do that?
Well, one reason is that it all cost money, of course. It’s such a pity to throw things away that one must have wanted at some point, even if one can no longer reconstruct the moment.
Then there’s the rule of forgetfulness, which allows one to conveniently mislay objects in one’s mind and have to buy them all over again. Examples of that include bread knives, can openers and plastic containers. Fortunately I never got on the tupperware train, so I’m spared the revolting pea-green food containers of yesteryear.
And of course, there’s all the stuff we put on our backs and feet! I become emotionally attached to comfortable shoes and keep them long after they have worn out. There they sit, in a shoe rack or a box, hoping I will take them for a walk. And I will, as soon as the rain stops!

Confession: I have unworn items of clothing which sometimes wander unworn into the Red Cross collection. I am ashamed of this. I only buy things that make me look good when I try them on at the store, and make gross and euphoric errors of judgment that way. But I’m learning. I no longer go clothes shopping very often. I do not put temptation in my way.
No. I have a better way of filling every available space: with books. No street market is safe, though I am fairly safe locally because I don’t collect books in German. But when I get to a city market where there is culture and education (not prevalent where I live currently) there is no stopping me!
A question I constantly ask myself is: Why don’t I throw books away that I have started and found unfinishable? I have an increasing number of books in this category that I bought like pigs in pokes on the internet. I know you have to fall in love with a book before buying it, but you have to skip that phase if you order over the web (and there is no other way I can get English language books). But that’s less drastic than choosing a partner through a chatroom, I suppose, though I have not put the latter to the test, and am unlikely to.
The general answer to all this pondering is that we are all hunters and collectors at heart.
For me, all this stuff I surround myself with (or bury myself in?) is home. The 18 volumes of Charles Dickens (bound in red leather) that I inherited from my mother, that are gathering dust but will definitely survive me; the dozens of art books bought in a state of rapture and full of promise to make me more of an artist than I could ever aspire to be; the bits that came from my childhood home (lace tablecloths, “best” china, even my piano) all help me to survive in what will never become home in the true sense.

For all of us who have been removed from our origins, however that may have come about, I wish we could feel the same about our new domicile. Then the need to smother ourselves in relics might not be so great.
Have a great weekend!

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