It started with buttons. They used to be precious, you know. In the days when they were made from shells collected from the sea bed by Japanese divers who didn’t use oxygen. Japanese divers many miles from home on the edge of the red desert in North Western Australia. A place so far from anywhere else it defies imagination. Days and days and days from the next town if you’re travelling by boat, or camel. And you wouldn’t be travelling any other way. Buttons made fortunes and cost lives. Now they’re made from plastic and cost pennies. But they used to be precious.
Then there were some photographs. Just snaps, black and white, filled with laughing people and significant moments. The people in them are grandpas, mums, daughters, brothers. Someone loved these people once, but the photos didn’t belong to anyone anymore, so I took them home.
Religious charms too, a little St. Christopher, Virgins, scallop shells. Found in a flea market. Things that had once been deeply valued, worn next to a warm, loving, beating heart, trusted to keep their owner safe. Now discarded in a box of cheap jewellery in a freezing Brussels square, snow falling gently on cobbles.
Then a hand. A small ceramic hand, probably from a religious statue, found washed up on the banks of the Thames amongst the mud, clay pipes and coke cans. It was probably thrown out as rubbish about a hundred years ago. That’s what the Thames was for in those days, a repository for things people didn’t want or need.
So many things that were once important, valuable, meaningful. I’m going to rescue more treasures; from eBay, charity shops and flea markets. I’m going to give them new life, new meaning. I’m going to give them a new value.