I know I go on about it, but I really do love paper: good thing, considering what I do on a day to day basis. The house is filled with bookshelves, rows of books, drawers of books, piles of books: any collective noun will do here. The studio is similar, if a bit more, shall we say, haphazard and adventurous in its organization: tobacco labels lie peacefully next to my collected Kitchenalia ephemera, discarded journals and diaries jostle for space with the Whizzer and Chips towers, and rows of tattered maps sit snugly side by side, organized from the south of England through to the North of Scotland (makes absolute sense to me, but would I’m sure send a geographer into a frenzy). The rest of the world, housed in atlases, lies at the feet of the shelves of maps: some texts scribbled in by adventurous road-trippers, some used by schoolchildren who sat at wooden desks, surreptitiously marking with biro Xs where they lived: all material showing evidence of lives gone by, and lives enhanced and improved by the knowledge & entertainment that paper can bring.
Sometimes, these paper items can themselves hold further paper secrets: the little note, for example, requesting sixpence from the tooth fairy, written in carefully crafted capitals by a young Mary, surprised me one day when it fell from a Poinsettia-adorned Christmas card. I imagined that Mary’s mother couldn’t bear to part with her daughter’s request, and stored the note away in an equally important item, hopefully to be found again one day, to be read, and to stir up nostalgic childhood memories.
Last week I was working on a series of orders, one of which was a phrase including a location in New York. One of the maps to be used was a Bronx bus map, and on opening it to search for the location, a little note escaped. I like how whatever I work with holds a history, but the paper pieces can also hold further hidden histories: a reminder, through the simple everyday detail of past lives, of what once was. Sometimes we don’t need history lessons or the modern-day oracle that the internet has become: we need to look around us, take note, and remember.