It was the difference between my mother’s public persona and the private reality that grated so much. We all present a variety of different faces to the world but this was night and day. We didn’t get on. She considered herself a woman of impeccable taste and this was demonstrated to the world by means of interior decor. The colour of your soft furnishings maketh the woman.
Looking back at 1950s and 1960s interiors, the dividing line between good and bad taste must have been marginal. Her stamp of difference was derived from antiques – “Victorian cranberry glass my dear, so much nicer than the ruby”. This superior attitude was passed down such that I assumed a parallel air of good taste but it’s all just fashion, it comes and goes. As modern interiors tend towards the Arctic, relics from an earlier age jar. Our home still retains an element of the museum but at least we have made the effort to rid ourselves of the ‘never used/can’t stand that/what was she thinking’. The change in fashion is reflected in the prices generated at auction.
I keep this though – A Passing Cloud by Marcus Stone, 1891. For years I never knew what it was, I just liked it – it’s monotones possessed an air of menace, an air of longing which resonated. In the early 2000s we made a trip to Manchester and spent a nostalgic day wandering familiar streets much changed by fashion. Ambling around Manchester Art Gallery she was suddenly there in front of me – in colour – the same woman but entirely different – night and day.
This is the public persona, but this is what I see: