A couple of weeks ago I was contemplating the subject of my next painting and looking for inspiration. Around the same time I took delivery of a small mahogany sewing table which originally belonged to my great Aunt Olive. When she passed away some thirty years ago it came into my father’s possession and has lived the last three decades in his spare room, somewhat forgotten.
A journey of two hundred miles in the boot of the car has brought it to rest in my home. An ideal size and height and with a suitable covering for protection, it is has found it’s place in my studio as a table for my brushes and water pot. Practicalities aside, I’m surprised at how fond I have become of this little table, this physical link which ties one female generation of my family to another. Slightly battered in places it is of no great monetary value, neither would it take pride of place in a smart antique shop.
However, it does exude charm and on investigation of the deep drawer suspended below the table top, I found my aunt’s personal sewing items – half used reels of thread, a wooden darning ‘mushroom’ and most touching of all – a felt needle case embroidered with her initials. Immediately I was reminded of my mother’s needle case with it’s navy blue initialled cover and I clearly remember how she taught me to make my own. I now have all three, a very real thread to the women of my family, items which would have been in daily use by them and as a young girl my own was too.
Then it became unfashionable to make do and mend and financially possible to buy new socks, or a skirt from a boutique rather than homemade. And thus a small sewing table became just a piece of furniture, no longer used as the cabinet maker conceived. But this little table has come into my life just at the right time and has found a life anew and is in daily use once more. I also found my inspiration, as I felt this small piece of my heritage deserved a painting of it’s own and so I set it up with a vase of white roses in memory of my recently deceased father along with a book of Longfellow’s poems, a favourite of my mother’s and the result is ‘Olive’s Table’.