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Remembering Places

As published in: Modeen, Mary Remembered Places, Ballarat, Australia: Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. 52pp book, in full colour, 2007.  ISBN-978-0-9775638-4-5.

On the window sill in my mother’s kitchen, above the stainless steel sink, a small green glass swan seems to float eternally in elegant silence. It is not beautiful or particularly well made. In fact, to the casual observer it would be indistinguishable from the hundreds of other knick-knacks, gee-gaws, or doodads that have come to dwell companionably in her house. But to the family, and now succeeding generations of family, the swan has come to represent a foolish joke perpetuated each Christmas, when it is wrapped as a present in various sizes of boxes, and given to my mother yet again. The repetition of this pattern has granted an invisible significance to this swan. It transcends knick-knack-dom and has come to symbolise family gatherings and the silly jokes shared with each visit.  It is ennobled—graced with a transcendent beauty through familial love. It is also quite plain.

Almost every family grants this same kind of special favour to objects in their household through nothing more extraordinary than the ordinary everyday process of living. In a pattern repeated across the world dolls and photographs, bowls and brushes, quilts and books acquire added value. If a family moves home the few small things that cannot be parted with come to bear this special significance. For an immigrant, one small sugarbowl can encapsulate a whole homeland left behind, linking the past with the present, connecting memories and places with current cups of tea...

Download document Download full paper (Word file 11pp 59k)

Download document Download full paper
(Word file 11pp 59k)