Sunday, 9 January 2022

A year in review: Furniture and fittings, part nine

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 sixteenth in the series. 

On 1 October I got in touch with Beaumont, the picture hanger, planning to get more walls fitted with rails so that I could continue to populate the walls of my home. The rails I’d bought from the Casino couple could go up, I thought optimistically, and Beaumont told me he could send someone out the following week to see what was to be done. On the 7th Ollie came over at 10am and I showed him where I wanted to put rails so he went at the walls with a tape measure in order to gauge the total length required, telling me also that I had 7.5m of rails in reserve that could be effectively used. 
Ollie said it would be possible if they could find some of the plastic attachments, which screw into the walls, to fit them, adding that he thought they could find the proper hardware somewhere, perhaps online. In response I got back in touch with Diane (see part of our online conversation, below).

On the morning of the 8th Beaumont got back to me and said that if I got my rails installed he couldn’t provide a guarantee but I persisted gently. This is my usual method. It never hurts just to ask and in this kind of negotiation asking can constitute a command because a supplier always wants to protect future business. For my part I keenly wanted a bargain so Beaumont made a quote to include the use of what I had bought, and accordingly the rails would result in me being charged less than half the cost per metre compared to the use of new rails supplied by Sydney Art Hangers. Beaumont furthermore again offered a discount for cash. Another area I hadn’t mentioned as a desirable when Ollie was around was the staircase from the ground floor to the first floor, and Beaumont now asked me to measure it, which I did with my bright orange tape measure. All told 7m of my railing would be used as well as 9m of railing Beaumont would supply, and he’d also provide me with 10 more monofilament drops and hooks to add to my stock. 

On 11 October I had to go to Lilyfield to pick up artworks that’d been restored so I decided to combine my trip with a sortie to get another small desk. I found one on sale for $35 in Redfern so turned on satnav and made my way out and parked in a small laneway near Baptist Street. The desk is perfect except for a small, faint mark on the top. It has a green drawer and one leg is made from particleboard while the other is a steel tube flattened to stand upright. I carried the thing to the car in a drizzling rain, loaded it inside the back of the vehicle, then drove to Lilyfield. The desk squeaked all the way, and from there to Campsie (where I was to meet a man who wanted to buy some of my books), and from Campsie to home.

Because I was getting a sore coccyx as a result of sitting for long periods of time on the couch with my feet up on the coffee table – a cushion set under my feet lending some comfort – I rearranged the living room on 13 October, bringing down from the closet in the master bedroom three pillows so that I could lie down while immobile in the living room. I moved two paintings and shifted the TV to the right side of the entertainment cabinet so that my line of sight to the device’d be as direct as possible, allowing me to more comfortably see the TV while reclining. 

I could also read a book while lying down. The arrangement achieved in the morning didn’t however perfectly fit my ideal because it required swivelling my head too far to the left in order to see the screen. 

The following photo shows the couch early in the day; you can see some of the pillow covers I had in reserve: I’ve amassed an amazing selection of pillow covers and so was able to easily choose things to add colour and contrast in the living space. (I can’t account for the multiplicity of pillow covers except by saying that I seem to wear out sheets quicker than pillow covers. Does everyone have a ton of pillow covers at home? They’re a bit like tribbles and it makes me wonder if they’re not breeding in the dark unbeknownst to me.)

The opposite side of the room was changed later the same day (see below), the new hang incorporating an identical number of artworks but now rejigged so that the TV sat closer to the bookcase, allowing me to watch Netflix without twisting my neck. 

I also tidied up the top of the bookcase. In contrast to the organisation of elements in earlier versions (see for comparison the photo in entry dated 11 January), a new setup gave additional prominence to smaller works. Where before the two large works’d been neighbours – the circular form both of them contain aggressively forming a pattern and demanding attention – now the long drops having in them little Rob McHaffie pencil drawings and nautical pictures could split apart the dominant circles and so communicate more effectively with a viewer who might enter the room, take off his or her slippers, and sit down to watch something or to chat. The twin circles’re better separated because putting a distance between them lets other things work on your consciousness. To get all of this in place I physically dragged the entertainment cabinet over the cement tiles by myself though I SMS’d Omer asking if he could help. 

He said he’d be happy to but of course I couldn’t wait, being (as usual) impatient to see a result on account of my restless and impatient brain. Once I have something in mind I find it hard to stall my impetuosity until it’s completed in truth, hence the urgency for doing more rails as soon as lockdown ended. The installation date was Thursday 14 October and on Wednesday morning I confirmed with Beaumont by SMS that Ollie’d be with me around 10am. He arrived at around 10.15am and left by 1.30pm, telling me that the brackets for the rails I supplied had the same dimensions as the brackets for the rails he supplied so that to put up my rails, in addition to the 19 pins I’d got from Casino, he used others brought with him. 

Hooks bought via eBay came in handy at this point in time as I spent a couple of hours putting up pictures, including some in the stairwell where the hang of four pictures my daughter made when she was a child was completed employing Blu Tack because the rails are (naturally) mounted on an incline. I woke up in the morning expecting the drops at this location to’ve slipped but happily this wasn’t what happened.

Though it was only because I’d worked out how much Blu Tack was needed. If the patch is too small pictures slide out of position and their edges go out of alignment. I had some slippage at different times over the next week or so as things settled down, and used extra sections of Blu Tack as required drawing on a stock I’d recently bought at the post office. 

I also took more pictures out of the cupboard in the back bedroom on the first floor where they’d been stored since the move. I’d rejuvenated different walls with dozens of such photos – ones that had been kept in cupboards in Pyrmont but previously hung only in mum’s apartment up in SE Queensland – and now’d got down to a final eight or ten still in reserve. Putting up a framed newspaper clipping of an ancestor’s meeting with two St Kilda players. Putting up a photo of Uncle Whitey, my grandfather’s brother-in-law, including his mounted signature. Putting up a photo of dad when he was 13 years old and standing in his parents’ backyard in his first suit. 

Next to the front door I put up WWI and WWII medals that’d belonged to my great-grandfather William Caldecott and his son Robert. I also put up a photo made by Basia, a friend from my uni days 40 years ago, showing a puddle and a reflection of me as I stood over it. The two of us had driven into the countryside on my motorcycle and Basia’d brought along her camera to take snaps. I found a good home for an expressive abstract painting by Dick Watkins that to communicate with the viewer relies almost entirely on its lines. 

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