OBJECTS OF OBSERVATION
On a recent visit to home of filmmakers Erin Espelie and David Gatton I had my first encounter with a Nauga. It appeared to be a cross between a tribal artifact and a Scandinavian troll and although it was incongruous in their beautiful minimal cabin it was strangely appealing.
Naugahyde was invented in 1914 in Connecticuit by the company US Rubber that later became Uniroyal. It was the first rubber based artificial leather created, and it marked the birth of pleather.
The company first created these Nauga dolls in the mid-60’s as a collectable distraction for children while their parents bought furniture. In the spring of 1966 an advertising campaign playfully introduced the idea that Nauga’s, originating in Sumatra, could shed their skin without being killed to create this vinyl hyde. The ads were very popular and even instigated a ‘Save the Naugas’ campaign. Today these vintage toys go for $1000 on ebay.
03. MOUNTAIN MAIL BOX
When we first moved up to our house in the historic mining town of Gold Hill, it took us a while to determine which was our mailbox.
As there are no visible boxes on our street we wandered around the little town trying to work out which one belong to our place. In the end we had to wait until we spotted the mailman and ask him. He said we should claim a disused one and pointed out which ones he hadn’t delivered mail to in a while. We chose a rusty yellow one.
These iconic symbols of American industrial design were invented by Roy J.Joroleman for the US postal service in 1915. They were created to limit the amount of time postal workers had to spend delivering mail directly to houses, especially in rural areas. The design was not patented, an early form of open source design, and why, to this day, they are still the ubiquitous shape for the American mailbox. As there is no way of telling when the box is full, and our metal flag has long since fallen off, it is fun ritual for my 6 year old to walk down the dirt road every few days and check if any mail has been delivered.
02. DUCK EGG BLUE
I was recently invited to Sanam Emami’s home and studio in Fort Collins, Colorado (sanamemami.com). She gave me a beautiful slip cast porcelain cup with a textured surface in duck egg blue from her series Cup Garniture. This colour resonates for me because it reminds me of the woodwork in my mum’s Victorian terraced house in North London. It is also the same colour as the old trim in our miners’ cabin in Gold Hill, Colorado. Despite the great physical distance between us it feels like a thread connecting our two homes.
01. AMBIGUOUS ARTWORKS
I asked my students at Colorado University earlier this semester to accumulate a collection of ambiguous objects that could be imbued with new meaning when combined and deconstructed. This was my contribution to the collection bought at The Home Depot for $6. We ended up with a weird and wonderful mixture of expressive and misleading things.