Donating Renewing Inspiration Part I

What do you do when you face another international move and you are only allowed to bring a maximum of x square meters of personal belongings? You donate; you donate like mad. In South-Korea, I donated baby and toddler furniture to a local orphanage. In East-Europe, I donated to local friends. In Belgium, I drove a few times to a charity shop and in Ireland I posted furniture and stuff on Facebook (all was collected in no time). At home, I have a circle of friends and the Dutch vintage shop Kringloop for donating stuff and furniture. Shedding skin is never a sad thing; it is a good thing to donate. It de-clutters, it forces you to move one, and as a result you do not live in the past.

But what about my art? Luckily my older drawings do not take up much space. I store them in a portfolio and 4-5 portfolio maps may be heavy but square-meter wise are neglectable. Still, it is a good thing to go through your portfolio and say bye-bye to drawings and paintings that haven’t sold and therefore one could depart from. Nothing is holy or beyond scrutinizing its beauty, usefulness or what feelings objects provoke.

What Helps You To Select?

I have read books on this and I like to offer three perspectives. The first one is by the famous Marie Kondo. She offers you a selection criterion stating you must love an item in order to keep it. I discussed this with a friend and we both think that is too simplistic, after all you can love trash, you could love useless stuff, or you are attached to an object because you feel obliged to pass it on to the next generation.

Then there is Eva Jarlsdotter’s decluttering’s working thesis encouraging you to do research into what items (furniture, clothing, a huge basket full laundry) costs as in taking up space, working on your emotions (for instance irritation), or as costing you time (to clean, to move around). I did this for our laundry cycle and drew interesting conclusions which lead to changing habits.

Art inspires art: my ‘Ode to William Morris’s Trellis’ on a painter’s easel with our new Morris’s wallpaper in the background.

Last, there is William Morris, the much admired and famous British multi-talented artist who simply states that:

‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.

Perhaps all three combined offer the best evaluation, Jarlsdotter’s economic thesis, Kondo’s minimalist strategy, and Morris’ passionate direction. We need to surround ourselves with only beauty and useful things because it makes living so much more pleasurable.

As an ode to William Morris’ passionate and inspiring call for more beauty, about a year ago I chose his elegant Snakehead wallpaper and renewed our bedding. Shedding skin does not have to be a bad thing. The effect can be very uplifting. And, despite these beautiful photos, it does not have to be expensive. Our local vintage shops are full of lovely and affordable items. They say that one person’s trash is another persons’ treasure. But let me say; one person’s treasure can be another persons’ treasure. Donating is important; gifting is important. It causes a flow of things, it prevents stagnation, and it offers you a renewed feeling.

My Mandarin Duck Gouache painting with William Morris Wallpaper in the background

The most important thing, next to William Morris’ advice, is that you need to surround yourself not only with beautiful and useful things but also with things that hold good memories or radiate inspiration. To me, personally, this rings truth because art inspires art.

In ‘William Morris in 50 Objects‘, I read more on Morris’s quest for surrounding yourself with beautiful things. I quote from No. 24 Morris explaining the importance of the decorative arts. He regarded ‘beauty’ as a basic human need that could only be satisfied by the best possible art. By ‘art’ he meant not just paintings or sculpture, but the home furnishings that surrounds us in our everyday life.

Donating Renewing Inspiration Part II is here.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

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