Summers are the time for flea markets, and anyone who knows me, knows that I have been scouring jumble sales and the like since I was 15 and was allowed out of boarding school to wander up to the village on my own. Its a bit like treasure hunting, added to a love of old textiles and vintage fashions. I remember buying old record players and radio sets in 1983, and struggling down Oxford high street with them. Some are still with us. Like the wind up record player in a small case, which I took to picnics later on when at art school. My best friend and I at art school, both had convertible triumph heralds, and there was a memorable late afternoon when we pulled up on a grassy hill with a picnic, no doubt some local cider, and the portable record player with some jazz. I am sure we must have been looking down at Bath. Fast forward to living in France, and my Sunday morning habits haven’t changed. I prefer going on my own, because you go at your own pace then, and don’t feel bad that someone is waiting for you. I still look for the same things. Hand-made things where you marvel at the skills. Especially old laces and embroideries at the moment. I have started being fascinated by old photographs. It started I think, when I went to an exhibition in a Rochefort antique dealers shop, where a young embroiderer artist friend of his had set up an exhibition, and they had very cleverly put her things together with his old finds. The exhibition was titled : ‘Secrets de Famille’, and it had a lot of envelopes with stitching on the edges, sometimes red, with tiny words coming out from beyond. Between her little envelopes, were photographs from the late 19th century, of stern looking patriarchal men with severe sideburns, looking very patronising. Or old matriarchs with large hair do’s, or even young things with rather vacant looking eyes. The secrets behind these rather prim and proper looking people. I bought an embroidered envelope, and also some of the old photographs. They go up the stairs in the south entrance. And since then, I can’t help picking up little piles of photographs and keeping them together. Families whose photographs have been taken out as part of a house clearance, and end up on the ground on an old linen cloth on a Sunday market. No-one seems interested. Least of all their own families.
September 01, 2022
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