Early this morning I was browsing through The Guardian online and came across an article about clutter. I read out bits of it to Cliff - we are both by nature hoarders - and Cliff dubbed 2010 as our "year of clutter" because we had acquired even more 'stuff' from a family house we had to clear for sale. We both agreed that 2011 should be our "year of de-cluttering". We're not going minimal, just getting back to a reasonably tidy state of affairs.
For starters, I said that my stash of life drawing could be ousted to free up more storage room for new prints in my studio plan chest; Cliff was going to throw out his school and university exercise books and notes . . . and he made a start straight after breakfast! (I have yet to tackle the plan chest).
Among Cliff's university stash was a small white booklet . . .
This is the introduction . . .
The concertina pages each have a typographic poem inspired by sea-shells . . .
"You mustn't throw that away!" (I needn't have worried – he wasn't going to) I wanted to know where it came from . . .
The book had been bought at a gallery near the Hadrian's Wall long-distance footpath when Cliff and some friends walked the whole length in September 1975 – apparently the wettest September on record; he remembered talking to a man – and admiring his enthusiasm. That man must have been LYC, or Li Yuan-Chia – a Chinese artist who worked at Brampton Banks from 1972 t0 1983; during that time 300 artists exhibited their work there and LYC designed all of the catalogues. Why hadn't I heard of him? Why was he there, in the wilds of Cumbria? I wanted to know more!
We found out that he bought the farm at Brampton Banks from his supporter and friend Winifred Nicholson – "Have you heard of her?" Cliff asked me – I looked round at the back of my office door, it's covered with postcards of paintings by Winifred Nicholson!
A little de-cluttering can unearth unexpected things about people you think you know well!