Do you have a possession that has been with you a long time and that you’d never part with? Mine is, surprisingly perhaps, this replica French art deco lamp.
I bought it when I moved to Australia as a young journalist in the late-1980s and, for me, it symbolised an exciting new life. I think it was one of the first things I bought in Australia, and it was expensive. But I had to have it, and it’s been with me ever since, to Thailand twice and to many different addresses and styles of house.
I loved art deco style (and still do), but in my 20s, I thought it THE most beautiful style. I’ve since broadened by ideas of what good style is, but art deco is still up there. It is the reason I love the style of Napier in New Zealand, which is the best preserved art deco-style city in the world. Sadly, this is because there was a major earthquake there in 1931 and virtually the whole town had to be rebuilt.
But back to the lamp. It has been on the mantlepiece of the formal sitting room in an Edwardian house I owned in Kew, Melbourne. It has been on a side table in two marble-floored apartments in Muang Thong Thani and in Bangkok, Thailand. It has been in a flat above a fish and chip shop in the coastal town of Sorrento, Victoria (Australia).
The frosted glass backing has been broken and replaced twice. It wasn’t broken in transit, as you’d expect: you can undo the glass and pack it separately, and when reassembling it, if you do it back up too tightly, the glass breaks. But I haven’t done that for some 15 years now.
For the last 10 years or so, it has been my bedside lamp. Every night when I turn on my lamp, I find a source of comfort, like a dear old friend. If I wake in the night with a bad dream or a worry, I turn on my lamp. It’s bright enough to read by, but low enough to go to sleep by if you want.
Chances are, I will have this lamp forever.
Art deco became my absolute favourite style after seeing its magnificence at Paris’s Musee D’Orsay. This love affair was sealed when visiting friends in Nancy, who introduced us to the everyday wonders surviving proudly in that beautiful French city. What set me on the path? Why your Napier, of course.
And that special possession? As a child I would finger the simple Georgian-style pewter candlesticks that sat on a cupboard in my grandmother’s “morning room”. When she died while I was living in London, my parents asked me if there was anything I would like to remember my grandparents by. Naturally I chose the candlesticks, which I learned had been in the family since the 17th century. They have been placed on my dining room table wherever I have lived over the past 40 plus years. Every time I look at them I think of my heritage and of the family members who have long gone.
How wonderful, and thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ve been to Paris, but only for a very short time and I had time only to go to the Louvre. I would love to go back.
I enjoyed your candlesticks story very much. Actually, you’ve given me an idea for a new blog post: favourite things inherited from departed loved ones.
I love your story about the Art Deco Lamp Caron and yours of the candlesticks Kay. My most loved possession is my Grandmother’s writing desk. When my Grandmother was a young woman she stayed on to work the family farm under the promise that she would receive her share of the property after her father’s death. Due to family wrangling and misappropriation she did not gain a share of the promised land but instead received a small cheque after her father’s death. With this she bought a small plain writing desk with turned lady-like legs. She stored her letters, recipes and musings in this simple piece of furniture and promised that it would be left to the first person in the family who had a piece of writing published. At the age of eight I didn’t realise that this was a direct bribe to my uncle who was working on a book with illustrations. Unfortunately her cat pee-ed on his pictures destroying his budding book. With the motivation of the little desk I cherished my dream of becoming a published writer and eventually became a journalist. Shortly before her death I had a piece of short fiction published. I now cherish the her desk – a reminder of Nana’s hard work, her beautiful writing and a promise kept.
What a great story. You’ve further convinced me to write a post about my inherited possessions: some crockery from my grandmother, a diamond from my great-grandmother’s ring, and so on. I will do that soon.
What a beautiful lamp. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Yes, indeed. I have another beautiful lamp too, a replica of the Empire State building that a Melbourne artist made about 10 years ago. It’s very cool.
What a lovely story. I especially love how your lamp kept finding new homes within each new home you moved to. I have a pair of plain brass candlesticks from my grandmother. She gave them to me, herself, while she was alive. One house I had, had a fireplace and I decided I would start a collection of old candlesticks. Hers were the first. They’re heavy and solid and imperfect. Dull, old brass. And I love them.
The candlesticks were for the mantle. Forgot to mention that.
I can just imagine your grandma’s candlesticks on the mantle. It’s great when a gift such as that inspires a collection. Thanks very much for your comments.