I blame my love of kitsch for my inability to be a Minimalist. The concept of being a Minimalist is bang on… I understand the benefit of keeping things simple, keeping the feng shui moving around the house and feeling more liberated with less stuff – but it’s just not for me.
Sometimes I call myself a vintage collector, sometimes a hunter gatherer and sometimes a hoarder. Either way – if this beautiful stuff didn’t make me happy I might have been the type of person who could thrive with bare minimal possessions… I could live in a house that looked like everyone else’s and was easy to clean… but I choose to surround myself with beautiful stuff.
Beautiful might be a stretch… You see, I have a thing for kitsch.
Kitsch is defined as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”.
I should be ashamed of it – the tackiness of it. But I’m not. Part of me is proud of saving this stuff (that has stood the test of time) from landfill. Part of me is proud of having a unique home that was sourced for next to no money from opshops. Most of our decor is 1950s-1970’s so there’s stories with pretty much everything we have. Not even just our stories but other people’s stories – passed on at garage sales; markets or through nostalgia for a common item. I should be ashamed of spending our little disposable income on stuff… but I’m not.
As you can see – one of my kitsch collections is shell art. Everyone seemed to make random little shell objects back in the day including most tourist shops… My particular favourite in that image is the mermaid.
Shells aren’t the only kitsch thing I love though…
Queen Elizabeth II; Ballerinas (Carlotta Edwards); Ducks/Swans (Vernon Ward) and Religious icons were all really popular in the 1950’s. So there’s lots of those sprinkled around our house. The vintage ballerina alarm clock was my Great-Grandmother ‘s so it’s extra special. Ella’s not allowed to touch it.
There’s a religious corner – and a “bad taste” (often considered racist) shelf -with my favourite pieces of German Pottery (not kitsch – but of the era). That’s only a smidgy part of that collection – I’m fond of Black African lady ornaments – one of my ‘prized possessions’ is a lamp that one of my Teacup customers tipped me off about after she saw it at Restore (Bryant Road). Speaking of “racist” memorabilia. Native Affairs shared this article earlier in the week. “Aboriginalia and the politics of kitsch”. It was interesting – but hasn’t made me hide the pieces I have.
You guessed it, the kitsch spills outside. I took these to show Ian Duggan who wrote this article about gnomes in New Zealand gardens… Well worth a read. The one at the front (who is missing his fishing line) was James’s Grandmother’s and the one with the watering can was my Nana’s (we brought it up in our luggage from Dunedin after finding it lonely in the yard after her house was sold). Needless to say – the dump has given us even more friends.
So – kitsch. It’s the reason I can’t do minimalism. I would love to see your kitschy items!! Please feel free to share your photos and stories with me.