Still Lifes in our Artists’ Loft

My treasures aren’t worth anything but mean the world to me. The paper-cut oak leaves were collected on a stroll up to the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte last year. I love cutting shapes into dried leaves – so ephemeral, they promise to rip and turn to mulch on the studio floor. I love them more for their transience.

We brought the paper hands on a road trip from Florence to Frankfurt to Copenhagen in 2015 where we were married. The paper hands were wrapped with satin strips that would be our temporary wedding rings until we could afford something different. Our paper hand ring-bearers, along with my dad and my youngest daughter. It was a dream.

Now the hands hang from the bottom of a shelf — one holds a cloud (our long-standing motif for so many reasons) and the other holds a miniature love note from Sean.

The cardboard box flaps have been painted and incised with the words “Jalina’s Store of Super Lovely Treasures” – we’ve moved to over 70 different places in the past 4 years, or more, and with each move I asked for all of my extra special, sentimental things to be labeled as such so that we could treat those boxes more gently.

Sean teases that all of my boxes are special boxes, and that instead we should write “NOT even slightly special stuff” on the one or two boxes that hold utilitarian things. Sean surprised me by ripping the flaps off of one of the boxes and incising the words he’s written in Sharpie ages ago. It’s now hung in dozens of different homes in many countries. Anywhere we go, we have a store of my super lovely treasures – it looks like a shop window display and I adore it.

The birds’ nests are another story that’s dear to me. My English actress/poet friend owned a trullo in Puglia and asked Sean and me to visit to help with her olive harvest and to transport containers of olive oil from southern Italy into Dover. As a thank you gift, she gave me a birds’ nest from her property that sat on the dashboard the whole ride back through the Italian Riviera, Switzerland, the south of France, and finally, back to Oxfordshire.

Sean found me the other nest in Oxford. One nest has a spiral shell in it, and the other has a small hornet’s nest which matches the shell perfectly, both shaped like eggs.

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