a casket, a nest, an envelope
“At my death I give to the safe keeping of my Blessed Redeemer my soul….. I leave and bequeath all my worldly goods and chattels … to my great grand daughter Helen Noble or Lascelles… My dwelling house and offices above… at Broadsea consisting of two pine doors, i front door and two windows. All of the rafters, beams, none of which belong to Lord Saltoun, all my furnishings and plenishings. My great lines, my small lines, my kists and my blankets, my tea case and sugar bowl, copper wares and brass wares, kists and dressers and deeces, chairs and stools and clock…”
The Christian Watt Papers (1983). D. Fraser (Ed.). Paul Harris Publishing. Edinburgh.
It has to be approached by the garret stairs, which you come to after passing through the whole house and the bedroom and arriving at the space known only by its relationship to the space above, the “below the garret stairs”. The stairs are wooden, possibly painted, and the single light bulb that illuminates both the stairs and the garret above, apart from a single skylight, has usually been borrowed to replace a fused one elsewhere, so climbing the stairs makes you apprehensive. You enter a twilight area- dark stairs with the glimmer of light from the skylight which you make your way towards as fast as possible. The floor is covered in a square of lino, the type with a border at the edges; the colour is dark: it has a dull sheen in the dimness. The slope of the roof makes it possible for me to walk upright in most of it, but maybe not adults. There is some pale wallpaper on the flat walls, and some wood paneling. At the far end of the garret, on the triangular gable wall, there is a wardrobe, one that I never saw open.
There were hooks on walls, with dark clothing hung on them. Otherwise, the main furnishings were chests- blanket boxes or sea chests- kists, they were called. They were painted, had been many times, and were dark on the outside. The lids were heavy to lift. They had wooden inlays and a shelf at the side. They held things that had been folded and put away. Cloth, blankets, clothes, a wedding dress. Things brought from afar.
that are whole
that are parts of wholes
that were lost
Objects that tell
Objects that hide
Objects that fold inwards and outwards
that were displaced
that enfold space
…Places change, and a small object
Stands defiant in its placelessness.
Durable because it contains intensely meanings
Which it can no longer pour out.
(Jimmie Durham, “Object” 1964)