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Sentimental Salutations

photography & words by Natalie Masli

eSSAY/

JULY 2015 | NESTING

 

'Heavenly bodies are nests of invisible birds.'

 
― Dejan Stojanovic

 

Humans were once upon a time nomadic people, however most of us now only settle in a few places in the span of our lifetime. And yet, we always have a knack for making a new space feel just like home no matter where we go. The alienated feeling that we get when we first move into a new house quickly fades, as we start to redecorate, painting the blank canvas of our homes with our own eccentricities and unique tastes. This is because we often place sentimental value in the things we keep when we move between houses, and it is these things that help make up a home.

The items that we collect over our lifetime can range from little knick-knacks and photos, to food and souvenirs carefully parcelled back from overseas trips, to books and music that we stumble upon in the musty corners of second-hand shops. Like bower birds instinctively attracted to blue objects, we also seek out objects that appeal to our eyes as well as to our tastes, and it is through this process that we form a sort of subconscious bond with these seemingly irreplaceable items which decorate our homes.

While for the most part there is generally an accumulation of items over time, however, there is also a natural ebb and flow to the objects and furniture which rest in our abodes. With each cycle of the year, things get shifted around, cast out, or put into storage for another time and another place. These alterations reflect as well as shape who we are, and functions as a cathartic process that is often underestimated in its worth. And it is our homes that provide this canvas for self-expression, transforming into a living and breathing work of art that changes as we change, and grows old as we do.

Because we attach a piece of ourselves and a piece of a memory with each sentimental item gained, these objects act as mirrors – projecting a rough image of who we are and who we were, not just superficial ideations of whether we are messy or tidy. With a keen eye, one can easily discern what type of person someone is by simply looking around their home. Some areas of the house may be favoured over others: someone who spends more time in the kitchen may have numerous grooves in their favourite wooden board, left by knives cutting into backyard vegetables and homemade bread; whilst someone who spends more time lounging in the living room may have stains marring their coffee table, with a myriad of cups lying around with leftover tea. It is these little details that may be subconsciously noted by the viewer but rarely explicitly recognised.

So thusly, our decorations are really just extensions of ourselves and our conscious. Rather than regarding them as only being inanimate objects, we have given value to them beyond their worth - especially the more years in which they have stayed with us. They are at once both our old companions as well as visible facets of our selves.