Sunday, 6 March 2011

what's on your mantelpiece?

One of the ideas that I have been toying with is taking photographs of mantelpieces, and the objects that we choose to bestow them with.

A good friend pointed me to a short piece on BBC Radio 4's woman's hour this week about Rachel Hurdley's work at Cardiff University on the history and function of the mantelpiece.  Like me she had preconceptions that the mantelpiece is often about status, self and wealth, with stiff printed invitations, fancy clocks and symetrical vases and candlesticks. What she found was somewhat different; much of the material displayed relates to emotions, family and memory. There may be a historical element, with photographs from the past or objects from places visited. Not all mantelpieces are symetrically arranged; some felt that this was too sterile.

I have a surfeit of mantelpieces in my house, as it is Victorian. Each one is "owned " by someone, and I am conscious that each is very much a statement of self. I intend to explore these issues with my own mantelpieces, but also with those of friends and neighbours.

What does your mantelpiece say about you? If you don't have one, where is your equivalent space, and what do you keep on it?  I'd be interested in your views.

women's hour; the mantelpice

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