Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Connecting paths

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!



  1. Don't call it "decluttering," Call it "curating." The things that are left are that more meaningful.
    After my last major clear out, I took the good stuff to a flea market (I believe you call them boot sales) and the money that I made I put into my Art Fund. Many small bits of clutter became one good piece of art.

  2. My hubby is a bit of a hoarder also! I am not, so it makes for some interesting conversations when I talk about his "junk" and he get a little insulted! LOL!! He is trying to curtail and purchases and declutter the guest room. It would be nice to fit a guest in it! LOL!!! Lovely discovery of your prints! It's always nice to be able to add a personal touch to things you enjoy!

  3. I desperatly need to do some decluttering although I doubt I'll unearth anything quite so interesting as your find.

  4. "The man drawer" is probably the worst of all !!

  5. I love everything about this post: the guilt about the clutter (snap!); one getting on with it, the other not (that's me, too); the interesting find; the lovely WN postcards - I've got quite a few of those, too; the unexpectedness of it all; the unearthing of such interesting snippets; and Terry's wise comment at the end of it all.

    All the same, I'm not sure I can bring myself to curate my university notes, even though they take up a horrendous amount of space. Will have to work out why not.

    Thanks for sharing - and good luck with the stash


  6. That's a tremendous find Celia, and from almost my part of the world too, though I'm ashamed to say I have never heard of Li-Yuan Chia. Intriguing.

  7. given my many moves & the limited living space i have, clutter is not on my agenda. every few months i go through trashing papers/articles, culling books, etc. don't like the weight of 'stuff'. a cluttered space confuses & i can't find where i'm at in it. good luck in your sorting! (no one asks for my help more than once as my stock answer is: garbage bags & an empty dumpster are what i use to clean house)

  8. You have inspired me to try a bit of de-cluttering hereabouts. I did manage some last spring when the apartment finally got painted...but the results are no longer apparent.

    I love the treasure that you all found. Pretty amazing!

    Best wishes.

  9. Just a thimbleful....

    Oh, decluttering or even tidying up was (and ever was) my New Year Resolution. I drown in seas of paper. Not to mention fabrics. Piles of stuff. HELP.....

  10. Winifred is just about my favourite (just pipped by Mary Newcomb); some lovely things of hers at the Krane Calman gallery a few years ago. They're so breezy...
    I too fight the 'stuff'. I never used to have things everywhere, perhaps it's a comfort thing, or having lots of friends who are makers!

  11. This post made me smile so much Celia, perhaps because it rang too many bells. I always joke that I married Squirrel Nutkin as he has things going back so many years but it has rubbed off on me and I have become the same! I love the pared back, 'spare' look but it is never going to happen here either!A lovely reminder too of Winifred Nicholson - thank you. Lesley

  12. My mantra when doing a bit of clearing is that warehousing costs money. If you love something enough you will not mind too much.

    It is very energising if not liberating to rid yourself of clutter but when that clutter was loved by one of our dear departed that is quite another kettle of fish.

  13. oh exciting - a little bit of archaeology, that always goes down well in this house :)
    Fabulous story.

  14. Hi Terry - 'curating' I like that!

    Hi Ocean Breezes... I will always be a hoarder but realistically I need to have a sort out.

    Hi Gina - yes, I love this book! It's amazing Cliff bought it and I'm glad he did.

    Hi Catherine - sorry to say I think my office desk drawer can probably beat the 'man-drawer'.

    Hi Joanna - good to know it connected with you and we're not alone.

    Hi Wessex Reiver - yes, I now want to find more about LYC.

    Hi Petoskystone - you kind of clearing out sounds too scary!!!!

    Hi Frances - difficult isn't it?!

    Hi Mavis - but it's all useful stuff for our work...

    Hi Wendy - 'breezy' spot on!

    Thank you Lesley - it seems this post has touched on a common experience with a lot of you!

    Hi Acornmoon - other peoples stuff... I know where you're coming from - and haven't an easy answer.

    Hi Carrie - love the thought of delving through our stuff as archeaology!



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