An object with special meaning for me

The pen

My object from home is one of my free hotel pens designed to advertise a local four star hotel as a conference venue.  It represents a new stage in my life and the start of the path to a new career. I had recently been made redundant after more than 20 years as a scientist, home life was pretty tumultuous and I trained as a volunteer lay tutor working with people with long-term health conditions and then specifically people living with depression. That was such a great course offering people a safe space to learn more about depression, to learn from each other and to regain control over their lives.

It also represents my slight obsession with stationery. I wouldn’t admit to hoarding stationery exactly (and I have less than my husband) but there will be plenty to leave to the children.

I like the see through mechanism and the neon orange. I don’t usually like orange but I like this.

It is something to fiddle with, it’s tactile and reassuring.

The line it produces is a permanent fine black line, compared with the easily changed writing with a pencil. At school graduating from a pencil to a pen was a landmark in the development of your handwriting.

My kids think I grew up with slate and chalk, apologies to anyone who did, but I am the “pen and paper” generation. Even my University project was hand written and subsequently typed by a typist and this was how we produced reports for several years after I started work. Even this piece of text is produced from my handwritten notes and only then so I can blog it. It also reminds me of how much I enjoy learning and as I get older how I need to write things down to remember them.

A more recent use of my pen has been when working as an auxiliary. As an auxiliary you are pretty much sunk without a black pen and I would always take one to work to make sure I could recognise it if I was forced to lend it out – if you lend your pen to a patient with the best will in the world you might not get it back and never lend your pen to a doctor, you’ll never get it back.

I can hear you wondering “How many of these pens do you have?” A few :D, the day when I’m down to my last one I might just have to keep it to look at.

A contrasting object chosen from the museum collection, a gravestone sculpture

Gravestone sculpture

 This came from St. Lawrence church in Exeter and dates from 1600-1700.

  Instantly recognizable, the skull is the work of a skilled craftsman, an expression of his creativity. Watching over the dead, the stone has weathered and blended into its environment. The empty eye sockets draw us in, contrasting the impermanence of our lives with this rough stone.

The interpretation reads “During a troubled period [the skull and winged cherub] reminded people of their mortality and hopeful flight to heaven.”

My response to my pen

I’m imagining my orange pen is my boat, sailing on an ocean of ink. The contrast between the man-made neon hull and the changing colours of the sea and sky. The ocean stretches out ahead, in which if I let them, thoughts like waves ebb and flow. The waves break against the sleek smooth exterior of that boat, I can observe them through the transparent walls but I steer my own course. In any moment there is always the potential for creativity to arise and be caught in the net of my attention.

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 Similarities

  • Both have a distinct historical context, objects popular in their own time period
  • Say something about impermanence – the skull reminds us that this is what we come to when our life runs out and the pen is not refillable and therefore to be disposed of when the ink runs out.
  • Democratic – we all have a skull inside us. The pen is in theory accessible to all of us having been mass produced cheaply to be distributed to promote the hotel.
  •  Drawn to both
  • Tactile
  • Instantly recognisable
  • Potential revealed by the light
  • Created

Gravestone sculptureSomething of mine

Contrasts

  • Old New
  • Decorative Functional
  • Natural materials Man-made materials
  • Solid Transparent
  • Natural colour to blend with environment Neon to stand out and catch our attention
  • Ugly Beautiful
  • Unique Mass produced
  • Fixed Portable
  • Valuable Negligible value
  • Marks an ending Represents potential to create
  • Crafted Mass produced
  • The sculpture is an expression of someone’s vision. The pen is an object which allows for creative expression.
  • In 2015 we recognise both the sculpture and the pen but in the 17th century the pen did not exist and would have been unrecognisable.

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