Best Intentions

The Wattle brooch has re–surfaced after a period with a couple from Melbourne. They didn’t post about their experiences with it and apologised for not engaging on the blog, realising that this is an important part of the project. They did however return the brooch to me, a wonderful testament to these temporary owners’ honesty and desire for the brooch to keep on keeping on.

A key reason Jamie gave for not engaging online was attributed to the difficulty of describing in English her experience of owning this brooch as English is not her first language. Jamie said she finds writing in English difficult and something she lacks confidence in. She also expressed that she hadn’t read the accompanying card or fully come to grips with the concepts inherent in taking on the work. Greg her husband, had taken custodianship of the Wattle brooch with the express desire that it be given to his wife. He had hoped through her engaging with it and the project that she could gain more understanding of the world of contemporary jewellery he wants her to be involved with, as this is his field and world.

This sort of jewellery and project asks a lot of the wearer – these brooches are not easy to own. Confidence about expressing their intent in order that they continue on their road means mastery of the dominant language attached to the project as an entry point. I hadn’t even considered the issue of language as being an impediment to being involved… Also the reasons for taking custodianship are so subjective – people engage with what resonates with them personally about the various themes at play in the project. The expectations assigned to these small objects and the promise of the return of good things is perhaps testimony to the fact that many of us hope for the best. Yet perhaps this sense of wanting a positive outcome needs to be tempered with the reality that not all expectations can be met.

The multitude of stories that are emerging and being attached to these objects as they journey out into multicultural Australia is proving rich and unique as each custodian moves within his or her own worlds. Can I speculate that perhaps at some stage one or some might enter a foreign speaking community for circulation, jump the ditch or even travel abroad? How will they translate then I wonder?

(o’ mice an’ men, meaning, the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong. From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.

The poem is the source for the title of John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel – Of Mice and Men.

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