We all have bits and pieces in our homes that make us happy. They may not be particularly valuable or even elegant but because they call to mind special people or happy times they are special to us. Some of them connect us to our family’s past, others simply ‘spark joy’.
This is the chest in which the sister of my great-grandmother Margaret Ryan Mcgrath (1851-1925) brought all her belongings to Australia. She migrated from Castlecomer, Kilkenny in the late 1860s. The box was passed down to my grandmother who stored linen in it. Nanna painted it in black gloss paint (she loved painting things, even the lino when she got sick of the colour). Over a number of years I painstakingly removed the many, many layers of paint using metho and steel wool. I then stained it and painted the interior sky blue, a nod to Nanna’s love of coloured paint. I use it to store clothing that I can’t bring myself to throw out and other bits and pieces.
This pincushion was originally stitched to a square of wallpaper covered cardboard. Over time the cardboard got quite tatty so I removed it. My grandmother made it for me when I was six-years-old. It is covered in velvet and stuffed with kapok. It is in the shape of a chicken because I had a pet black chook at that time, called Henrietta. As you can see, the pincushion has lived a useful life and is still in everyday use.
This horn from an early motor car still makes a wonderful parping sound. I ‘saved’ it when we were cleaning out my parents-in-law’s house – it appealed to the ‘Mr Toad’ in me. I have no idea whose car it came from but I couldn’t bear to see such a fine instrument ending up at the tip. I have used it to attract attention when I have been confined to bed.
This beautiful glass dish was made by my daughter. No further explanation is necessary.
This cast metal inkstand belonged to my father though I have no idea where he got it. The head is hinged and the original ceramic pot is still in place. These days it is used as a holder for my emergency glasses.
The heirloom aspidistra. This plant has been handed down through the generations from my great-grandmother. It has been divided and repotted many times but, as it has never died, I consider it to be the same plant.