I have many treasures: perhaps trash to others but jewels to me, hard up against the tenuous membrane between child and adult.
Pieces of tree and spongy mosses populate my studio, a rare leaf skeleton too; charcoal from the bonfire; luminous yellow, sulphurous soil from a small Caribbean island, still “eggy”. And pumice pebbles that drift on to the beaches of surrounding islands from volcanic Montserrat.
I used to collect scrap: odd machines that extruded things like ceramic tubes, looking lonely in the scrap yard next to my student bedsit. Better they snuggled up with me. Oh where are they now?
These days I am bewitched by ancient glass. And I mean ancient. I want it very, very old and very, very fragile and the older and the more fragile the better. My 4th century Roman cosmetics vase in a limpid green is a case in point. Dangerous, as I am actually quite clumsy. Part of the thrill no doubt.
Very, very old but perhaps not as fragile, a fossil from the Northern Ridge of the Grand Canyon is treasure number two. I have a few of these, found while hiking.
I lived in Los Angeles for 2 years, working in the film industry, behind the camera, so a trip to the Grand Canyon was like going to the park.
I would drive there in my beaten up VW Golf – called a Rabbit in the US – bought at exorbitant cost from a gangster in the Valley. Long story. He offered me an Uzi with purchase too, one I could hand pick from his proudly displayed and extensive collection. I naturally declined. And when the car gave up its Rabbit ghost I kept one of the plates…to remind me not to buy rust buckets from wise guys.
Morrissey. Well how can you live without him? Or die? Seen just once in 1992 wearing a gold lame shirt at the Hollywood Bowl, besieged by adoring Mexicans.
A four-leafed clover, found one August bank holiday in Rye, Sussex – in the midst of pain: nature’s ever-present balm.
Finally, prototypes of a tap I designed when copper alloys were but a twinkling in the trend forecaster’s eye. I have the more developed models in my Devon home, complete with indices printed with pictograms of a snowflake and sun indicating temperature.
In the end I went for bronze, in both my bathroom and kitchen, with the kitchen tap also being operated by a foot pedal – handy when baking and water efficient so useful if you rely on a natural spring, as we do.
Perhaps one day they’ll go into production. One day.