Around the age of 12 my parents allowed me free rein to decorate my room. Inspired by Changing Rooms, which I enjoyed too much, I rag-rolled the walls in a pale dead green, which I thought looked nice. I have no photos of it so you’ll just have to trust me that it didn’t.
We went to MFI to get some furniture and I chose a matching desk and chest of drawers in black ash. I felt this as a great sign of my precocious maturity. Not for me pure black – no, that would be too definite a statement – too Adrian Mole. With the wood-effect veneer of black ash I rejected the immaturity of interior design, declaring myself above such trifles. Black ash was a shorthand for masculine detachment; a kind of anti-decorating. Behind the veneer I hid my fear of commitment to something positive, definite and solid – of something that could be judged and found wanting. Nobody could find black ash wanting; it wasn’t even there.
As I grew up and moved out, I threw out the posters I’d bought on Saturday shopping trips from Athena. Like so many childish things I became ashamed of in the presence of others (cc. Games Workshop), I quietly disposed of my collection of posters. I told myself I wasn’t going to be one of those pseuds who curated their personalities in such obvious, mainstream ways. I was special – Athena couldn’t contain me – and so I hid my special light.
At times I made a brief concession to taste, buying a nice print of an artist just slightly off the beaten track, or a work just slightly neglected – a Klimt treescape or a Twombly print – that would demonstrate to those in the know that I was in the know too, but would not move others; the kinds of prints that I could hide behind. But for the most part I moved house so often that this seemed pointless.
It was my movement therapist who pointed out to me how important the spaces we live in are, and how big a hole I might be leaving in my existence by not paying heed to my environment. But it took the kindness of a gift from Aarthi to spur me into action here once again in halls of residence. She gave me a picture I’d taken, all put up in a nice little frame, and I’ve followed suit, with the photos below.
I’m sure to most people reading this it’s obvious that putting up pictures is a great way of staying in contact with parts of
yourself that you want to stay in contact with, and with parts of other people you’d like to be more in contact with, but it’s
come as a bit of a surprise to me. I like turning from my desk to meet a picturesque part of my past or a person I hope to be in contact with in the future.
In the past I’ve made little books of my photos, which are nice, but there’s something more exposing, and so more rewarding, about putting them up on a wall like this. Of course, all of this is made easier by having an incredibly cute nephew to print photos of – there’s nothing quite so sanctioned to put on your
wall, or anywhere, as a cute child.
Incidentally, the frames are from the Sainsbury’s, and yes, they are in black (and white) ash.