After seeing the Song Dong exhibition at the Barbican I had an epiphany and could really feel the emotional connection with what I am doing and the feeling I got from the work. I realised that my work has as much to do with my mother as it does with me, as it is her who has kept hold of all of these things over the years, her who has seen my connection with these items and her who has grown older surrounded by them, probably in some ways having them around her has kept her feeling more connected with me as she lives in France and I haven’t been there living with her and my father now for nearly 10 years. Of course I speak to her all the time and we see each other occasionally, we have a wonderful relationship, but I cannot help thinking these things mean different things to her than they do to me, as a lot of the toys are from a young age which I can barely remember anything of and I have to rely on her to tell me about those times.
The Idea that she has kept all of these things fascinates me, in the same way the Song Dong exhibition did and I suppose a part of that was purely because I could relate to what I was seeing, as my mother has a similar sentiment and throws nothing away. Although I’m sure their reasons for keeping everything are different I can get the same raw emotion from both of these women’s compulsions.
Here are some pictures my mother kindly took of some areas of their home in Brittany, France. To some extent I think the size of the house has also helped contribute to the amount they have stored, its so big they have space for everything and have never felt the need to have to get rid of anything, so haven’t! They are planning on moving back to England, and will have to downsize somewhat, I wonder what will happen to all of these ‘memories’ when the time comes?
I have asked my mum and she has kindly written a few words to explain why she thinks she has the urge to keep all of these things that take up her time and space. She has a long and emotional story to tell, I just wish I could go into it in more detail, but she has given a quick, shortened version just for us!
My own story is less about what was happening nationally, as in Song Dong’s mother, but is a very personal story, it is easy to over simplify my reluctance to throw anything away. l had everything taken from me as a child, yes even memories, though l tried very hard to hang on to them, but without photos, so hard. After life took away my mother at age 3, then my father remarrying somebody who was pathologically jealous of me and my father’s relationship. If the relationship was so enviable how came it to be destroyed so easily? A relationship such as this surely couldn’t be so flimsy? …….yet l still believed in him.
The report from J. M. Stephen, M.B; B.S; D.P.M; the Psychiatrist stated and l quote……
Dated 21st October 1959.
“Gillian’s behavour is quite normal and she doesn’t give any trouble to the staff in the hostel or in the school. lt has become clear that Gillian’s difficulties were precipitated by her stepmother’s pathological jealousy of the child’s presence in the home. It is obvious that Gillian cannot return to this disturbed home”.And so it was that l went into care……l lost not only my father, but all my dead mother’s family who were every bit as attached to me as l was to them……l hadn’t one single photo of any of them, or any of myself……They had disappeared and so had I!!! I had nothing!
l want to say a little about the more fun side of stuff, the hunter/ gatherer instinct…. all the fun of those jumble sales back in the day and Boot Fairs now…..This goes way back, here is another excerpt from my files from NCH…… Report of a meeting with Mrs E Mason. Senior Child Officer. London….. “Gillian came to the office and we had lunch in the canteen. After that we discussed her financial situation. She is now completely self-supporting and is managing on her major award from the Kent Education Department…….. She is clothing herself and at the moment is in a very trendy fashion, buying at jumble sales etc.,………… After our official discussion I offered to take her to where-ever she would like to go as a birthday treat. She chose to go to the King’s Road, Chelsea where we visited numerous clothes shops, coffee bars, antique shops etc., Gillian thought this was wonderful”.
So to sum up, hoarding is typified in at least 2 ways….It is the oppressor but also the security and safety? Surely the manifestation & reminder of who you are, what you’ve done and where you have been? LOOK I AM NOT INVISIBLE, I HAVE STUFF!!!
So keep on shopping! It’s a family tradition! Use, reuse and recycle everything you need or want to of my writings, anything…
It’s yours Love, love, love and lots of ‘stuff’ MuM
- Gill Buckland