As a child I would sneak into my mother’s purse.
Sitting in church, supposed to be praying, there was wonder and slight miracle materials hidden in this 1960s leather treasure chest.
Tiny metal saint statues hidden underneath red glass in a pinkie-sized coffin, a photograph of St. Bernadette in a glass case in Lourdes whose face I have etched in my memory thinking “that lady is dead” in a glass case, sweet honey amber beads having come unstrung and the deeper my hand snooped, the more detritus of a mother’s cosmos was found in miniature.
All this amidst a white cotton hankerchief, the cool edges hand crocheted in pink and monogrammed with my mothers initials that she herself would embroider from the 1930s.
Along with a jade plastic 1960’s Melon Revlon lipstick and old 1950s identity cards, pill containers and lost letters never answered, I was in my dream time capsule zone wafting in a Guerlain Interlude scent, a tiny bottle tipping over, as my mother would smell the mistake I had made and grabbed the bag out of my hands. So would life pave the path between my mother and myself through a handbag.
These images and child memories moulded me like the wax moulages, dead saints, 1920s mannequins, WW2 films, WW2 history, German 1930s movie star magazines, taxidermy baby chicks for Easter and all things past and yesteryear, wild and wonderful that I became obsessed with during a strange 1970s childhood. My parents were older, like grandparents to my peers, so I was surrounded by antiquity, horrific, confrontational, violent and bold, this was my development.
Amidst the ancient books my mother took with her from Germany, I paged through the obstetric prints, engravings of pink baby heads, instruments and photos of fetal mutations and disease and along with my father’s Prison of War camp suitcase he hid in the closet, the visuals moulded my aesthetic, my eye, my curiosity and sense of digging through lies and silence. These, along with the 1930s German fairytale books, storytelling and excavation of “the story” and “truth” became my passion and quest.
Saints, relics, incorruptible bodies, WW2, zoology, botany
Sweet shops, goats, secret gardens, cemeteries, the lost,
the misplaced, the hidden and the condemned to secrecy.
From the hidden wax moulages found in a rotting university basement
to the Heligan Woods secret garden in Cornwall, to the Barbieri
in Bologna still cutting hair and steaming hot towels since 1880s.
But what are these spaces that inhabit the past? The stories, the characters. I am on a quest excavating the magic of the ancient past, and how these spaces and objects will move into the future, with some significance and respect, wonder or folly, magnificence or dread? I don’t know, but I am wondering.
The handmade hankie, the storefront gossip, the ability to still be able to look into a persons eye when you talk, the thing that happens when we meet each other while we stare into the sky and beam awe at our surroundings and our spaces.
Always a new chance to discover the wondrous, the wonderful,
the weird, the controversial and the strange.
The Drifting Flaneur, girl detective, benedictine monk, gentleman of great expectation is compelled to delve into the unknown, the histories, the hidden cracklings of time, lost and found on her Charles Kuralt-like journeys into the deep.
She lives all over the place, a gentrification refugee, thrown out from one cheap housing situation to another. So she figured, keep wandering, like the sufi nomad.
Don’t try to find her! She is on the run!
In the words of JOSEPH MITCHELL: Every time you get somewhere, you are too late. For that reason whenever you arrive, you cannot help but being right on time.