Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A Parliament of Owls

A new arrangement of treasured possessions on my chest of drawers. I shall tell a small story about the objects. The jug on the left is by my old graphics tutor Amanda MacPhail. She taught me on my art foundation course before university - she's since left my old college and set up a ceramics business in her home (which is AMAZING I might add) called Create-A-Plate, where you can go to her house and decorate your own ceramics with special vinyl sheets that you cut out, arrange and Amanda then fires in her kiln. She also creates her own unique pieces, the likes of which I bought in jug-form when I visited her one summer. So that's the jug. The image on it I believe comes from an old 1950s cookbook, which Amanda added a bit of colour and a love-heart to - very much up my street.

I have fond memories of Amanda. She was an inspirational lady, not afraid to speak her mind. Indeed, I remember her ripping one of my design sheets up in sheer despair one day, and with very good reason too in hindsight. I was going through a bit of what could politely be called "an experimental collage" phase with, erm, coloured feathers... or, as Amanda called it, a "Take this shit off, this is not design!!!!", plucking at my paper as if she were an enraged farmer's wife, absolutely livid with one poor chicken, who just happened to have landed on her freshly baked apple pie. Lesson learnt. No more feathers.

This becomes slightly ironic when I've just noticed what I'm storing in her jug, ha! The, er, feathers are actually the plumage of my red Flapper's headband, complete with Arabian-esque black jeweled centre and glossy ruby sequins. Obviously you can't see all of that, but I thought I'd point it out. It's not design, it's just for fun. *Does the Charleston*

The little owls I picked up in one of my favourite rummaging spots, Emmaus, all bar the green owl, which my friend Lou (another Lou, I'm not talking about myself in the third person) bought me. He used to sit on the kitchen windowsill at uni and watch all the washing-up/late-night cracker eating/hot-water bottle making/boyfriend greeting. They're quite jolly little souls, are they not? I was pleased when I came across the other three, sitting on a big dusty oak dresser, in a cluttered group of other grubby owl ornaments. I would've purchased them all, of course, had they been as nice as those three, but they were a little ugly, poor hoots.

The cheap glass paper weight is actually the object I've had the longest in that little collection. I picked it up in a shop down Mill Road in Cambridge with my pocket money when I was about nine or ten. For those of you who don't know Mill Road, it is probably the most multicultural place in Cambridge; I think almost every nationality of the world must be represented in some shop, cafe or restaurant down that road, and it remains until this day one of my favourite places of all time. I grew up just a few streets away, so cycling down on my small white bike, complete with Tom & Jerry bell, wheels rattling with Kellogg's reflectors and colourful spoke beads, and coming back with a few goodies in my plastic, flower-fronted basket was quite a usual pastime for me! I'd sometimes pop into the corner shop for a paper bag of sweeties or the fancy dress shop next door to rummage through their tall rows of fur coats and glittering one-pieces before I raced home. The fish inside reminded me of the tiny darting Danio fish I had four of in my little fish tank at home.

Last but not least, the turquoise, shining lump of ceramic is not a vase, but the base of my favourite lamp, picked up at a car boot sale some ten years ago. I was as chuffed with it then as I am now. The top has a cylindrical, gold, hole-punched shade, bought separately from Robert Sayles (the old name for John Lewis here in Cambs). Looking at that picture, all I want to do now is get rid of my horrid chipboard furniture (bought in haste when money was tight) and find a nice, real wood dresser. I might even indulge it with a bit of a strip and a polish.

A small corner of my bedroom, but quite a lot of memories popping up. That's what I love about building collections and searching for thrifty treasures, mixing the old with the new, some objects with a purpose, others just with a beauty, but all with a little story.


  1. I agree I love having certain little areas that have a collection of favourite things or that evoke memories.
    Gorge little owls :):):)

  2. I love this collection of owls!

    I spent several summers doing a programme at Queens College, but I haven't been back in years. I miss Cambridge so much. Does Auntie's still serve that amazing warm banana nut cake with caramel sauce?

  3. Aw, thanks Jaymie! It's funny, I didn't realise how many memories I had associated with these objects until I started writing about them. I guess everything has a story of some sort when you think about it! x

    Hello happy honeybee, and thank you also! You know what, I've never tried a warm banana nut cake with caramel sauce at Auntie's Tearoom!! But now I've read that, I'm wondering why on earth not... I'm off there to order a slice at the earliest opportunity! Delicious! x


I'd love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave me a comment or ask a question.