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Friday, April 10, 2009

Visual delights from my wife's handkerchief collection

These were carefully folded and stored in a glossy green box that I unearthed in the back of a late 17thC English court cupboard that was used to store her collection of diaries and early childhood photographs. In interviews and conversations Barbara has always deferred to me as the one who collects most in our relationship - she may be right on that count but I offer this selection of her own early personal objects. I can just see her loving mother, Marjory tucking into her belt, any one of these folded hankies.
As for young Barbara Heath, so many of these patterned and illustrated cotton canvases hold memories, sometimes dark but more times bright and cheery - some of these emerged when we opened and laid out every one to photograph.


  1. The little lion with a butterfly net intrigues me now, as I was convinced that this was the hankie that....
    I was six when the family moved to London from Australia and I can recall us visiting friends who lived in an attic flat in a long row of Victorian terraces. My mother pointed to the quaint dormer window high up above the sooty black facade, it seemed fantastical to my childhood imagination. We spent the evening with my parents friends, a young doctor couple who I loved, but everything about the tiny flat seemed antiquated and gloomy. I remember the toilet with it high cystern and chain. Mum pulled the chain for me, and as the water swished my precious hankie slipped from my hand into the bowl and around the bend! I was shocked to tears, horrified and inconsolable as I imagined my happy little companion diving headlong down four stories of pipe and into the immeasurable sewers of this black metropolis.
    BUT here, I see it can't have been the lion after all, perhaps it really WAS the scotty dog!

    btw Thanks mal! I was so delighted to see this 'childish array' made first post on your (second) blog - Ephemeral

  2. What a treasure trove!

    I love the fact that you have photographed them complete with fold creases. This brings a further historical significance to the handkerchiefs beyond their original memories... the significance of the collector.

    The preciousness is visceral, as if they had been stored safely in the bowels of a fabulous international museum and the curator of the collection has, in a secret moment, unearthed them.

  3. These are very FLUXUS ... extraordinarily ordinary!


  4. Love it mal....Phil Smyrk

  5. If the poodle on yellow is ever looking for a home....

  6. well well Hi Anna Davern, if it ever wants to leave the green box I'll send it down to Latte land - promise!