The attic bedroom is generally used by my mother-in-law or by teenage friends of my daughters crashing after a party and, to be honest, doesn’t get a lot of attention. So before a friend came to stay recently it needed a good dusting, including the stuff on the shelf. This shelf has become home to a few things which have sentimental value but aren’t considered aesthetically acceptable to be placed elsewhere in the house. Not that anyone would call our home precious, nor me the queen of interior design.
Contemplating these momentos – photographs, stuffed toys, gifts made by the children when they were younger – made me conscious of how much my mind has been preoccupied with the present and with the future. Not a bad thing to be sure. But, being focussed on the building of a business and the dramas – large and small – of family life, I’ve largely forgotten what has brought me here. The achievements and the experiences. The joy of raising our children. Perhaps I’m even slightly ashamed that there’s quite so much past life to remember. Sometimes the world doesn’t seem to value our grey hairs. During that mundane household task my perspective alters. There is so much which is precious in those years, and which needs to be appreciated. To value myself, my opinions, and my craft I need to remember that.
BBC Radio 4. The panel on The Saturday Review is discussing an exhibition of Degas at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge: “..it had all the strengths & weaknesses of a show that’s built mainly from your own collection.” The comment grabbed my attention. What are those strengths and weaknesses? In this case loaned works of art seem like padding. I think about how awkward I can be sometimes when working with ideas which are unfamiliar to me. The importance of being aware of what I know and can do, and of recognising where and how it can be of value. The need to be continuously adding to my “collection” of skills, knowledge and experience. Doing it with care and consideration so that it fits with what’s already there but so the whole remains relevant and up to date.
There’s the tendency to admire and be a bit envious of what other people have. Which is fine and natural. But there’s a great show to be curated from my own collection.