I was tidying my study recently, and came across the pile of cards from my birthday a couple of months back. There are some I keep, and others I recycle.
I paused over this one, and took a ‘moement‘ to re-read the information on the back. It is curious that William Morris has popped up on my radar a few times lately. My interior decorator friend loves his textile designs; another friend in England just sold her house built in the Arts and Crafts style; and most recently, I went to an author’s talk given by Australian writer Kate Forsyth. Her latest book, Beauty in Thorns, is “set amongst the passions and scandals of the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists and poets”. One of the characters is William Morris’ wife, Jane Burden, who was an artist’s model, and had a long-standing affair with Rossetti.
If that sounds as if I know a lot about the Pre-Raphaelites and art in general, then please don’t be deceived. I simply sat in rapt attention to Kate Forsyth’s talk. However, if Agnes Ashe has time to comment, I am sure she will have much of value to say, so be sure to watch out for that!
It is the quote, attributed to Morris, with which I can identify: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” You will see from Agnes’ “About” page that she also draws inspiration from this quote.
As I wrote of in my last post, we’ve reached a stage in life when many friends are facing the need to seriously downsize their lives, and make a judgement call about what possessions will serve them going forward. Luckily for me, I trained myself out of hoarding when I was still in my late teens. It was imposed on me as a matter of survival then, so I can well understand how people accumulate. Especially if you have been raised in austerity, you hate to see anything go to waste, and when life becomes more affluent it is very easy to hang on to everything that comes your way.
This is not a post about how to declutter! There are dozens of sites on the internet that will tell you how to do that. One habit I have formed though, is to go through the house every so often, and if I haven’t used an item in the last year it goes on to another life, usually the charity shop. Similarly, I don’t keep anything for “special events” that are only likely to see the light of day once or twice in a year. If I own it, I use it, and if it gets broken, well, that was meant to be. I enjoyed it in the meantime.
However, such a utilitarian approach could make life very grey, and I love to be surrounded by colour and beauty. So there are those special things whose only purpose is to enrich the soul, and the fabulous thing about not having clutter, is that those objects get to stand out and be appreciated.
I do allow myself one other luxury. In the top of one wardrobe, there is a line of boxes for holding miscellaneous bibs and bobs, such as computer bits, or cables, or mementos, or travel keepsakes. One of the boxes is very special. It contains letters I have received over the years, and greeting cards which have touched me.
So, in case you’re wondering, this one is a keeper. In fact, I might even find a little frame for it, and put it in my study as a reminder that even a workplace should contain things of beauty.
Footnote: The card came from an Australian company called Moements, and you can find their website here. I’d not heard of them before. Their range looks delightful, and reasonably priced.