Speaker by Various Artists

Read Post

Speaker: Objects to Remember With

27 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Che Tibby,

    great post. objects imbued with personal and familial meanings are one bundle of the secrets that make up my every day. they take on magicial significance and become arcane bulwarks against the shallowness of of our commercal lives.

    enjoy milan. i'm sure the flood of old ghosts will be kind.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    How in hell does an Italian immigrant have an infinitely greater, and infuriatingly more lyrical, grasp of the English language than me, a third-generation local with British heritage?

    He ruins (and enriches) my day on a regular basis the bastard.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    his pictures, far more than mine, are the ones that capture that ineffable essence of place that makes my memory tingle; shots that I wouldn't have bothered to frame because their individual parts are unremarkable if not downright ugly, but that taken together make up postcards of the Milan that I know

    You're raising a great little flaneur there!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1040 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Just today I heard that a piece of historical architecture in my home town of Napier, is in the process of demolition - despite a category 1 listing by the Historical Places Trust. The Anglican church hall is an old gothicky, brick building, 2 storeys from memory, tucked in behind some shops in town. I think they're going to use the space for a carpark.....cue Joni Mitchell.

    Of course, the megabucks it would take to restore it and meet earthquake standards is anathema to the church and the mayor. I also remember the art deco buildings that were demolished pre-art deco mania and I wonder if they regret it or have simply erased such foolishness from their memories.

    As Giovanni so elegantly relates, it is the history contained in buildings, and the many expressions of culture big and small, that continue to shimmer for us. Little anchors - wonderful for your boy to know.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I have got an old copper kettle, that was carried up the bridal path, by my immigrant ancestry. I don't get deep emotional affect from it, but I do value it, as a relic of which other people (my immigrant ancestors) held as an object of comfort. Hence, I do experience some, if only shallow emotional affect from that copper pot, my thinking about it, and empathizing with the immigrants, (my immigrants plight).

    On another note. The technologies of culture.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4306 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    How in hell does an Italian immigrant have an infinitely greater, and infuriatingly more lyrical, grasp of the English language than me, a third-generation local with British heritage?

    Too right. I say boycott Tiso - too clever by far!

    Mum's house is full of such objects, thanks in part to the heroic frugality of past generations: I'm thinking especially of the square knife that my grandmother used to cut tagliatelle with, made from the recycled blade of an old scythe...

    I have much the same affection for a few items in my parent's/grandparent's houses; particularly a battered and slightly degraded copper saucepan... I covert it desparately, I'd steal it but I know it'd be missed instantly.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    My dad's side of the family weren't big on heirloom items. Most of the pretty stuff has been farmed off to other uncles and aunts, leaving my dad with all the bits and pieces that Grandad and Grandma used to basically live as peasant farmers in Glen Eden for fifty years. Rakes, hoes, axes, saws, sledgehammers, mallets and crowbars, metal tins of 'motor essence', acetylene torches and hurricane lamps, spanners, wrenches, the Elastrator tool (don't ask), various car-repair items - in short, it's a living museum of a more self-sufficient age. Pretty much everything there has only survived because it's still useful now.

    Other than that, I particularly treasure a chess set that Grandad taught me the game with, and a wooden wheelbarrow he gave me when I was three - made with an old pram wheel for the front, and my name and address painstakingly painted on a metal plate on the back.

    From my mum's side, the standout item is unquestionably a Kodak Brownie 8mm box film camera, late-fifties or early sixties vintage with a clockwork drive and a fold-up rangefinder. Common as anything and not particularly valuable, but we have silent film transferred to VHS and DVD which tells the story of the family's trip from the UK to NZ by boat in the mid-sixties, including the only footage I will ever see of my eldest aunt, Helen (she died before reaching her teens). The clockwork camera is in fine shape - every so often I take it down and give it a couple of twists, just so I can hear and feel the clicking shutter and think about what's passed through that lens over the years. Love it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I also remember the art deco buildings that were demolished pre-art deco mania and I wonder if they regret it or have simply erased such foolishness from their memories.

    It's very easy to demolish a building of a style that's current unfashionable. It's usually stuff that's between 30 and 60 years old - it's not new enough to still be valuable, but not old enough to be considered worth preserving on historical grounds.

    Decades later the regret, the "what were they thinking" comes.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    It's very easy to demolish a building of a style that's current unfashionable. It's usually stuff that's between 30 and 60 years old - it's not new enough to still be valuable, but not old enough to be considered worth preserving on historical grounds.

    Decades later the regret, the "what were they thinking" comes.

    And after 150 years of this, you end up with Auckland.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    I don't think he necessarily does it in order to look at them again in the future - it is simply part of his way of looking.

    That's how I feel about taking photographs. I have gone through periods where I would take my camera out every day for a month, go home and cull and maybe write, never once feeling like a "photographer" or having any particular use in mind for the photos. I have only ever made non-digital copies of my photos for my grandmother. I was taking photos of graffiti for a sustained length of time and it started to get commented on by my friends "she takes photos of graffiti", but for me it was just my way of looking, something that gave me an excuse to hang about in alley-ways and generally just wander (oh and a collector's delight in having the record). But I know what a photographer is, I have friends who are serious photographers and they are a special breed.

    I only got my first camera at a fairly advanced age and it was digital (although I had ALWAYS wanted one) so I guess I have something in common with those 8 year olds out there for whom a camera is just an extension of looking. I would love to have that "roll of film" experience one day but I am happy to forgo that "skootch closer and grimace for the camera 'cause we only have two takes to get this right and then it will be on the mantle forever" experience of previous generations.

    My mother is there for eternity with her eyes closed in all photos between the ages of 19 and 25, maybe if there had been a casual digital snapper on hand she could have avoided that. Then again maybe the confidence that comes with age is what makes photos of her beautiful these days.

    Oh and I also covet the sauce pans of my elders, battered and beautiful they are indeed.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • kmont,

    While looking for the correct spelling of "skootch" I stumbled upon the most fabulous bibliophile/nonsense loving site and yet again I regret missing a librarian themed party last weekend.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I have much the same affection for a few items in my parent's/grandparent's houses; particularly a battered and slightly degraded copper saucepan... I covert it desparately, I'd steal it but I know it'd be missed instantly.

    Mum keeps advertising the fact that she doesn't know whom to leave her mother's rolling pin, a single-piece cherrywood number almost as tall as said grandma (I'm sure she broke into Little John moves when we weren't looking). And I keep pointing out that I'd be extremely happy to solve that problem for her...

    I also remember the art deco buildings that were demolished pre-art deco mania and I wonder if they regret it or have simply erased such foolishness from their memories.

    From some photos at the central library it seems that Wellington lost some great buildings in the eighties, and they looked in great nick in the photos taking just before the wrecking ball hit. But then maybe they were rotting from the inside, who knows, and as you say there's the problem of the earthquake-proofing work. The historic places trust must have its work cut out for it. And, as Danielle points out, there's the whole problem of that period of time when a building or an object is old but not quite old enough - we've all been there I think, clearing wardrobes of stuff that maybe now we'd like to get back. That's why losing stuff can be such a great way of saving it - Italians managed to lose whole cities for centuries as well as these.

    I stumbled upon the most fabulous bibliophile/nonsense loving site

    Indeed, that's a gem. E pluribus plurum - heh.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Although when I say Danielle I mean Robyn. See the other thread...

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Speaking of things that get lost and found - I'm getting back my father's old valve radio, restored to working order. It has passed through several family member's hands, currently languishing in a shed. My dad died when I was 6, so I have only memory snapshots. One is of him sitting in his armchair on a Saturday afternoon listening to the races on his old radio.

    i do have a pair of great old chairs my grandfather made out of plywood packing cases way back - not terribly comfortable, but rather rustically elegant. My sons never met either man, so the objects and stories have to suffice. For me too - never met any of my grandparents - all snuffed it before i was born - so the objects become kind of mythical.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Madeleine,

    I can so relate to that. We were deeply struck by the strenght of emotion attached to the most seemingly incidental objects when we packed up the home of a dear family member recently.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2008 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Speaking of photography, it's been a recent hobby of mine to collect a digital photo essay of Wellington's evolving cityscape, for better or worse.

    http://s79.photobucket.com/albums/j132/deepred6502/Wellington%20-%20A%20City%20In%20Progress/

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    there's the problem of the earthquake-proofing work

    Not in Auckland, there isn't. No excuse at all. We just delight in electing city councillors who regard a heritage building as just another carpark or shoebox waiting for the attentions of a misunderstood property developer. Amazing how many philistines the leafy suburbs produce.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    After my nana died, my mum spent a week tidying up her affairs, delving through decades of cupboards and boxes. She said the drawers were chock full of rubber bands, short lengths of used brown parcel string and suchlike.

    Testament to a frugal depression era upbringing, I guess. Vege garden out the back, pine cones gathered from the rural roadside in lieu of coal. I can still smell the brown paper that all nana's packages were wrapped in, books and birthday gifts.

    Waste not..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    And thanks Madeleine for inspiring that memory.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Speaking of photography, it's been a recent hobby of mine to collect a digital photo essay of Wellington's evolving cityscape, for better or worse.

    Streetview is a fine idea, but a Streetview in time would be great.

    She said the drawers were chock full of rubber bands, short lengths of used brown parcel string and suchlike.

    Ah, yes, there was a ritual after Christmas at nonna's of neatly folding the wrapping paper and sorting out the ribbon that I greatly enjoyed. I wonder if it's depression era upbringing of something more deep rooted than that, though, in Italy at least I suspect that whatever time or relative (urban) wealth there had been was the deviation from the norm. I was sharing some numbers with our frugal friends just the other day, from what is now one of the richest farming areas in the country: in 1922, a male farm labourer earned 2.4 liras per day; a woman and a child doing the same work earned 1.2 liras per day. A kilo of sugar cost 2.6 liras.

    I don't mean that in a Yorkshireman-like spirit of competition. As I think Umberto Eco might have pointed out once, when farmers got rid of their beautiful bread chests to replace them with formica cupboards, to the horror of the urbanised middle class, they thought they were (finally) upgrading to something new and easy to clean. Getting rid of some of the old stuff must have been to some extent liberating, and although I'm glad my grandparents never felt that way it might have something to do with the fact that they were (relatively) better off.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Streetview is a fine idea, but a Streetview in time would be great.

    There was a cool exhibition at the Auckland City Art Gallery about a decade back called "Panoramas of Auckland" which was a pre-digital version of that, featuring paintings back to the 18th century, photos and a film shot from one of the old trams.

    Could see the main roads and farm homesteads, many of which are still here. The history of Orakei was really vivid, and I've been able to picture the pa ever since.

    I thought at the time it would be cool if you could animate it for any part of the city, and see the transition from forest to farmland to suburb. I wonder if a history function is part of Streetview's design?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19680 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I have to add a post scriptum, something I have just learned after visting mum's village, near Mantua, the grandmother patch from my first post two weeks ago, which is also where my father is buried. Dad died less than two years after Justine and I moved to New Zealand, and mum visited us a year later. I suspect she embarked on that adventure mostly on his behalf, since he had been the keener of the two, and during her stay she wasn't often kind to my adopted land, lamenting especially its lack of old stuff, which she exasperatingly equated with 'lack of culture'. And yet she now tells me that she picked up a native rock before leaving, so that she could put it alongside my dad's urn when it was moved next to her parents to its final resting place.

    I find it very touching, all the more given her decidedly mixed feelings towards New Zealand. And it must have been quite an adventure for the rock, too.

    I wonder if a history function is part of Streetview's design?

    Not as far as I can tell, thus far at least. I've fantasised in the past about setting one up, when GPS cellphones become more common. You could have a forum where people know to take pictures of a given place at such and such coordinates, facing, say East, and then upload them. Some vistas would never change, others would change with relative frequency, is my guess.

    I bought this great book at the mission sale in Wellington last year, a cameracolour photo book of Venice from the 1960s. The pictures are fantastic and they could have been taken yesterday, except for what the people in them are wearing.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    And after 150 years of this, you end up with Auckland.

    I was paused at the lights on Cook Street the other day, just outside Police Central, and took a moment to take in the view up and down Hobson Street.

    For those that don't know Auckland, Hobson Street is the highest ridge in the CBD. And it is lined (littered) with a dozen very tall very cheap high density crap apartment blocks. All of them 'shoebox' apartments.

    And I thought to myself: what a frikken waste of prime real estate. What an indictment on our council that they allowed these cheap-arse crapholes to be built. Nevermind the financial crisis, these were our canaries in the mine. We should have realised back then that a 'free unregulated market' will not produce the best products for consumers. They will be produce whatever will produce the best (ie quickest) profit.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And I thought to myself: what a frikken waste of prime real estate. What an indictment on our council that they allowed these cheap-arse crapholes to be built. Nevermind the financial crisis, these were our canaries in the mine. We should have realised back then that a 'free unregulated market' will not produce the best products for consumers. They will be produce whatever will produce the best (ie quickest) profit.

    I have confidence they'll be meeting the wrecking ball before long. Wellington has its architectural abominations too, but it seems to have learned from the Auckland shoebox experience somewhat.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5415 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    For those that don't know Auckland, Hobson Street is the highest ridge in the CBD. And it is lined (littered) with a dozen very tall very cheap high density crap apartment blocks. All of them 'shoebox' apartments.

    And I thought to myself: what a frikken waste of prime real estate. What an indictment on our council that they allowed these cheap-arse crapholes to be built.

    It's probably not surprising that you get crapartments on a street with near-constant, speeding, vicious one-way traffic headed for the motorways. Tends not to encourage high-quality architecture. Still, they could have done a lot better.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.