The teddy. Or is it a dog? A bear-dog?
Voted the favourite found thing at a little stand I had at Gwyl Ffair Nant, Nantperis’ village fair on Saturday. The stall was a continuation of my Digging Down project, comprised things dug from our garden, settled in the main marquee, along with the competitions (cakes, jam, collages, photographs, dragons, flower arrangemente involving a bottle and the like) and a wonderful photographic exhibition of old photos of Nantperis by John Ellis (Nantperis Ddoe a Heddiw).
It was a bit of a punt: I had no idea how it would go down. So I was delighted when it seemed to spark genuine interest in all ages, locals, visitors, holiday makers... Some stayed for almost an hour, while one group of boys came back three or four times. I think I might start to become more confident that it IS genuinely ... interesting!... Especially when I mention that it has all come from one garden. Located. Local.
The best bit really was the insights people brought with them: the little cowrie shell, for example, might have been used to ward off evil spirits, or even used as money. The metal bar is probably not a lever used for prising slate apart (as I'd thought), but an old fixing for a gate. The mystery pink object that I’d thought might have been part of a light bulb fixing was identified by a young girl - with a real aptitute for piecing things together – plates, metal objects, stories - as the eyebrow that went with a little face.
An older man noticed that one of the paint pots, identified as having been used by John Abernathy Lynas-Gray, a painter who lived in our house and the house next door, might have been turned into a money box, judging by the cut. I have also found some little round bits of slate, very rounded off, coin size. Perhaps they used to live in the tin?
Voted the second favourite object was the collection of ink bottles, with their sharp lips, specially designed.
I'd asked people to vote on their favourite piece, and to explain why. Here are some of the answers:
Y tedi Bechod
Bear dog Because I like him
Teddy bear Because it looks like every bear that has had many years of use!
Teddy It looks like mine after it was mauled by our dog
Y gwn (Adam, 6 oed)
Poteli Amrywiaeth o ddefnydd
Ink pot (slanted) Because it’s really well designed/practical
Boteli ink (Jamie, 8 oed)
Y Boteli Oherwydd bod nhw yn diddorol (Tom, 11 oed)
The gun A reminder of how dangerous the world was and still is!
Gun Just is! (Toby, age 5)
Fire guard It reminds me of my nan’s living room in the 60s
Fender No doubt!
The little cup It looks so loved
Small cup Complete! Could be for various uses ie child’s, measuring cup etc
Yr esgid fach Am ei fod mor fach ac yn gwneud i rhywyn feddwl beth ddigwyddodd i’r plentyn
Door lock Because it has a key hole (Ro, Age 3)
Paint pots I like the things that are linked to actual people best
The fragments Because the whole thing might be ugly, but the little bits are intriguing and beautiful
The glass bird lid Wondered what the nest would look like!
Popeth! Arddangosfa diddorol iawn
I'd also put some cards on the stand, based on the design of a cigarette card of my grandfather, that he used to keep in his 1st World War cigarette case (my first ever bit of treasure!). I'd made one card for each of the people who lived in Coed Gwydr between the date it was built (1872) and when rubbish collection began (and so the throwing away stopped). 15 people in all, with Mrs Smith being the last 'thrower awayer' (and known to some of the people came to the Ffair). Fact and fiction, the cards are a connection between the fragments and objects, and the people. The writing is so tiny, you have to use a magnifying glass.
I’d used the cards the night before, when we had another Oren pop up restaurant in the barn, surrounded by the trysor. This time we managed to fit in 15 people around one long table, (and we had a waiting list for more), so there was – by coincidence (!?) one card per person. I’d done them to respond to feed back from the last pop up restaurants, that there was an apetite for more information about the people who had thrown the ‘stuff’ away.
At this supper, we welcomed people from Nantperis, Nantlle, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Liverpool and Oxford. An un-curated mix of people that (and now this is starting to be a pattern) created a truly convivial evening.
Again, we had fantastic food from Gert Vos, this time on the theme ‘Finding, Found (Digging Down II). Gert foraged and served us Cheese & Beer Fondue; Pigeon; Hazelnut Terrine; Rowan and Thyme Jelly, Hedgerow Ketchup and Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Autumn Fruit Pudding. It was absolutely delicious, and of course, food for thought, debate and a recipe for a very convivial evening.
During the evening, we discussed (amongst other things), all things finding and found. People brought with them objects they’d found (and their stories), including an old key, a stone with a hole, a shiny green welly, a piece of art deco glass, andheart shaped pieces of slate.
At one point, our neighbour Phil (known locally as Phil-the-box with reference to having been an undertaker), disappeared for quarter of an hour during the evening, returning with a painting he has by John Abernathy Lynas-Gray. John's old paint pots fill one of the old middens we've found, still full of the ochre coloured paint he was so fond of!
It was a great evening. Diolch i bawb! Thanks to everyone! I'll leave you with some of the traces left behind on the table cloths...