This last month (to the day) has seen some drama in our house. When I say ‘our’ house, I use that as a general term. It’s the place I grew up, not the same house I spent my childhood in but its home because the people (my mum and dad plus others) and the ‘things’ make it so. It’s where I have so many memories and now I have been given some time to be able to capture them in drawings. Not that I have had too much time yet, but I have made a start and I will continue. So this blog is about drawing memories: a sense of place and sense of things.
As a child I didn’t draw very much. I have not sketched the place and the ‘things’ until now. In some ways I’m glad, because it means that I can draw them now, fresh, with adult eyes and childhood memories. When I draw them now, it’s not just what I see that I am capturing, its what I feel and sense too, based on memories then and reality now. It is a synthesis of it all and it reinforces the memories.
A Sense of Place
In the last few weeks I have not managed to sketch much of the town environment or my parents home, but these two drawings below start a narrative about the streets that are so familiar to me and show something of the place where my parents live. They epitomize what it is about the location that I know and love.
The town is picturesque and quirky with cottage-type buildings and a sense of history. There are many more drawings to be done but this simple and fast sketch (20 minutes whilst I waited) represents the place to me, with its wonky streets and individual properties.
And this earlier sketch is of the room in Mum and Dads current home that we all love the most. The garden room with its bricks and warmth, its cosy furniture and its mix of pieces from the past: the lampshade, the Sunday tea trolley and the poof with new pieces like the chairs and the blinds.
A Sense of ‘Things’
Ha, nobody says that: A sense of things, it sounds odd, but I like it so that is what I will call it. This is about the things that make it home, the items I like the most, or that have a resonance and a story. In my last visit, there were lots of things to do other than draw, so the sketches here are raw and rapid, a little bit lumpy but by sketching them, I know them more: more about their shape, their texture and their colour. The selection was almost subconscious, things it felt natural to sketch.
The first is of Mum’s trinket box. For a long time, it resided in the old family house on the kitchen windowsill, and now it is still in its kitchen position in their current home. As mum says: ‘full of rubbish’. But the bits and pieces are handy, indeed, what drew my attention to it on this visit was that mum was hunting amongst its contents for some paperclips-which she found! Apparently, I brought it back full of bonbons, from a visit to see my French pen friend. I like the colour and the shape (and the fact that my mum keeps all sorts of rubbish in it!). My mum likes to keep things……
The second is of a gorgeous little tub chair that now sits in the corner of the room I stay in. It used to be in my mum and dad’s bedroom in the other house. Like the first sketch, this is colour first and it was early in the morning. The shape isn’t quite right but I learnt much more about this chair by drawing it. The repeat pattern is interesting and identical on the back and the base. A thick braiding surrounds the seat and the legs vary: two ornate curved legs at the front and two chunky legs at the back. It is hard to identify the exact colours as the whole chair is patchy and faded. When I look at this chair I smell peanuts. This is because the wardrobes in my parents room always smelt of peanuts, it was something to do with the veneer on the doors. Such is the power of association.
The final piece I sketched there this week is this wonderful jug vase. It now sits up high on the top of the dresser in the kitchen, but I remember it being on windowsills or in the fireplace. The shape is elegant and the colours are muted and stylish. I love the sinous fishes/dolphins that decorate the glazed turquoise bands. Mum says they got this vase from a department store called Joslyn’s, when she needed a taller vase for flowers.
There are many things from home I want to capture by sketching. They enable me to relive and think about past times and give me a greater understanding and knowledge of the significant elements that make the place a home. Watch out for the grey elephant and the green and purple glass bird!