Monday, 10 January 2022

A year in review: Furniture and fittings, part ten

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my house! – and the post you’re reading is the seventeenth in the series. 

My life at this juncture (the middle of October) strongly revolved around art though I wondered how long my intense focus would persist. Perhaps it’d only endure as long as I still had empty wall space to fill, and then once all of the available room was occupied I’d direct my energies at other things. I might also sell paintings – though this was unlikely as I could just rotate pictures, putting into obscure corners items that for too long had hogged a place in the living room, where I spend a lot of my time – replacing ones I’d gotten sick of with ones I took a shine to if I saw them available online. 

With new spaces created due to my second batch of installed rails I let my imagination free, even bringing into existence ideas about pictures of specified dimensions. In this way I got Amanda to frame three photos from mum and dad’s store of family snaps showing the view out the window at Vaucluse, a view of the sea that was made when the two of them went wandering around the world in the 90s, and a view out the window of the Maroochydore unit they occupied from 1999 until dad went into a nursing home 10 years later (though, afterward, mum stayed on there alone for a while).

Ming’s father had also offered to do a work for me because I’d asked for a long, thin work to go in the middle bedroom on the first floor to replace an oil painting of Ming’s she’d left in my house but that she didn’t want to relinquish. He’d made it and it just remained to be finished and brought to Australia, then I could take it out to Amanda to have it framed. Above the bookcase in the master bedroom another long, thin space called out for a special work of art that could fit but I still hadn’t worked out how to fill it. 

On 13 October I confirmed with Ming that she’d be free the following week to go with me to Richmond to visit the framers. I immediately SMS’d Amanda who quickly confirmed that the 20th would suit. Some items were ready to pick up because Amanda’d already framed them, including drawings Adelaide made when she was small. 

These would go in the stairwell (see below). I’d reserved this spot for her childhood because I’m in the habit of forming ideas about where to hang things. The hang is visible from the ground floor and from the hallway on the first floor (as the balustrades are made of glass and so are transparent). My hang would however change on 25 October. Below I’ve first put a photo showing the hang before the redesign – the photo taken on the 23rd.

The following photo shows what I did after a friend commented on my labours using ideas about feng shue (what, buoyed by chauvinism, she complaisantly referred to as “commonsense”) so that I could not only give Adelaide’s crayon drawings more room to breathe, but also fit more pictures in the available space. In fact it was a far better solution though on 28 October I swapped the positions of the yellow one and the green one. The brightly coloured mats used for these items are generous, and reflect a father’s love. When commissioning the mounting I chose a sombre green to go with the mid-blue and the bright yellow and the grey mat matches Adelaide’s elephant.

When, on the day before lockdown ended, I organised to buy a set of nine diminutive watercolours from a woman in the beachside suburb of Sandringham (the same locality where I’d bought the bookcase for the first-floor hallway), I immediately thought about where they should be put and for a time at least settled on a situation above the front door. When, on the Wednesday after lockdown ended, he was in the process of putting up rails I told Ollie about my plan and he evinced a form of delight at the prospect – though Ollie’s province is the labour involved in getting the infrastructure set and I’m not sure if he cares much about art – suggesting the use of one drop for each (as they’re so small) with a dab of Blu Tack to hold them level. 

I’d promised myself to get Amanda to fix the mountings of each of these items so they could be hung from drops in the normal way and when I was out in Richmond she kindly used a staple gun to secure the mountings and then she put in D-rings at the correct places on each small frame, the work taking her only a few minutes because she’s an expert. I was glad that she didn’t charge me for her time or materials (I give her plenty of business). 

After getting home that evening I decided to put the watercolours in the kitchen (see above), adding the final – ninth – item right next to the air conditioning control as though the electronic device were just another piece of art. I changed my mind about where to house these silky little pictures because the drops when wound into twists must be put behind the last article in the hang and this can make a bulky package (because the drops are so long). In order to make the last picture hang evenly I’d anyway had to use Blu Tack at the back on the bottom edge of the picture. I also used tape to hold the drops, wound into coils, in place so that they wouldn’t obtrude. Such arrangements keep the watercolours close to the wall and anchor the drops in place so they sit in a line falling vertically. 

Another reason for putting the watercolours here was that, if I’d put them above the front door, I’d have been forced to use a lot more drops (two for each picture), which I was something that I was loath to do as drops are not cheap and I only had a limited number of monofilament drops in reserve. If I’d used nylon drops above the front door I’d’ve been forced to order more. By the end of October I’d ordered monofilament hooks four times on eBay but had ordered no new nylon drops, having used only what Ollie’d brought with him in December as well as the ones that came from Casino. 

The reason why I’d had to get so many more hooks than drops is because I usually put up more than one picture on each pair of drops, so for two drops there’ll normally be four or even six or eight hooks used to create a hang. I’d also given some hooks and drops to Ming for her use. Starting in March with things found at a home in Winston Hills, in Sydney’s west, where I picked up three small oil paintings that had been made by Christine Parrish and that depicted churches, I’d decided to keep 26 of the works I’d bought via Facebook Marketplace. In addition to the additional monofilament hooks I’d bought 40 metal cable hooks on eBay, so all up I’d bought an extra 216 hooks and this was still not enough to accommodate all of my pictures, a number I planned in November to add to after I went through a collection of rolled-up paper pictures – some so old they were labelled with mum and dad’s Florida address – stored (in a cardboard box dating from the move in December 2020) in the cupboard in a first floor room. Searching on 26 October, I came across two attractive Pixie O’Harris prints wanting frames as well as a poster from the 80s published by Japanese department store Parco that I’d sometimes thought about having completed so that I could hang it up. 

On 28 October I travelled out to Mortdale to pick up a steel and glass table for the entranceway. I went on suburban roads in preference to the motorway because it’s cheaper and because the previous week going on the motorway’d raised my heartrate. The place was a block of apartments and inside the air was rank. I surveyed the item and judged it acceptable, then moved my car as I’d parked too far away to conveniently carry the furniture. There were four chairs, and the guy I met also added four more that’d been standing outdoors on his balcony. He wiped them down with a cloth and handed them over the balustrade to me as I stood in the garden and said he’d be moving to Melbourne, so I surmised on the strength of evidence that he wanted to get rid of possessions. My presence an opportunity to tidy up: he even asked if I wanted a coffee table. 

I took his Allen key even though he said he needed it for his bed (he said he’d pick one up at a store nearby), this piece of equipment handy once I got back to Botany where I carried the table upstairs to the ground floor and without too much trouble put it back together. 

The legs come away from the top for transportation. At 11.58am I’d asked the woman selling it if this was the case and via Messenger she confirmed this fact moments before I got in the car. Almost as soon as I saw the table I told her I’d come because it looked like it was the right size but on the way in the car I considered the possibility of it being too big though I’d taken my packing box (with its ropes) out of the car before setting off. The table was not too big for my car and by 1pm I was leaving Martin Place. Back home I was having a cup of tea, having cleaned the table, while watching Question Time. 

No comments: