13 May 2020

The “At-Home” Diaries: A Story To Tell

The "At-Home" Diaries: A Story To Tell on vickiarcher.com

 


There is a story here.
I was asked the other day if there was a story behind the pink babies in the painting I often feature as a backdrop to some of my images.

Apart from loving the vibrant strawberry pink and the cherubic faces of the babies, there is a tale to tell.


Years ago, in a land far away and another lifetime David and I were strolling the streets of Hong Kong. We were on one of our many transits through the city on our way to Australia. We would stop a night or two, soak up the energy of this vibrant city and feast ourselves on a cuisine we sorely missed having moved to Europe. Our walks over the decades have always included Hollywood Road – not the same as it was but still a wonderful adventure – climbing up the winding paths and through the street sellers is something we love to do. I have come home with so many “treasures” from these travels; red hanging lanterns being one of my favourites.


This particular day as we wandered Hollywood Road we came upon a gallery with an exhibition of Mao Babies. The colours were vibrant, we knew nothing of Chinese art, but I thought they were fabulous in an unusual way. We admired them but ever practical decided they should stay where they were. And on we went.


Fast forward 6 months.

A little detail to illustrate the story.

David has an excellent knowledge of the French language but is a reticent speaker. I am the verbal communicator in France, then and now.


The phone rang and he rushed to answer the call in his office.

I heard him chatting away in French – this was something he never did and especially not answering the phone – and very well. My curiosity peaked. When the call finished I asked him who he was talking “the talk” with? His response, non-committal and a look to say, wait and see. He can be like that and spends much of his day talking on the phone, so I didn’t make much of it.


30 minutes later I heard what sounded like a large truck rattling down our driveway. He rushed outside and welcomed in a couple of guys with a rather large delivery. Yes, you guessed. At the time I had absolutely no idea what he was up to.


It was the babies.

He had returned to the art gallery in Hong Kong during our visit earlier in the year, unbeknownst to me and bought the Mao Babies to celebrate our wedding anniversary in the coming November. He had seen how much they resonated with me and wanted us to have them.



It was one of the most romantic gestures. These babies have moved with us from France to London. They have had many positions, the pride of place and not and no doubt they will again.


Why do I love them? It doesn’t matter I just do. xv




Fancy A Dash Of Raspberry Pink?

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28 Comments

anitapelayorivera

Dear, dear Vicki, I love storytelling.

There is always a story within us that even though we may tell it and tell it well, others may only be able to imagine or at least make a connection. And that is the beauty of storytelling.

What I love about this is that many of us CAN connect to the gesture that a loved one demonstrates that resonates with us. I have a few items that have a deep story to them because of the way that they came my way, by the thoughtfulness and creativity of my husband.

We can’t separate the gesture of gift-giving from the gift. How marvelous that you have been able to enjoy these beautiful images from move to move. May you always enjoy them in great health and happiness!

Reply
Vicki

Thank you Anita… gestures, surprises… big and small … always make the best stories… :)

Reply
Victoria

Your Mao Babies are gorgeous and have always made a beautiful and quirky backdrop to many of your images. It is lovely to hear their story! We lived in Hong Kong for three years and most days I wandered the labyrinth between Hollywood Road and Lyndhurst Terrace – via its staircases, alleyways and cut throughs – looking for and always finding treasure. As you say, there is a particular energy to HK, and in this corner of a frenetic city there is a calmness as well as an ever changing and fascinating array of objets to desire! Your ‘Babies’ a perfect example.

Reply
Vicki

Such a wonderful city… I can’t wait to get back… but I’m not sure when :( I love Cat Rd (Is that it) near Hollywood rd… always fun…

Reply
Linda B

I love hearing this story! I am always a big fan of the backstory. Knowing the personal history of an object gives it ever so much more resonance, meaning and beauty!

I actually didn’t realize how much I shared backstories in my every day life until about five years ago. That fall, my husband and I unfortunately experienced a home robbery, and almost all of my lifetime collection of jewelry was stolen. . . The counterpoint came about a month later, when I experienced one of the most delightful surprises of my life. It turned out that my whole school community conspired to create a new jewelry collection for me, specifically made up of pieces from their own collections that had some sort of personal meaning and history, because they loved how much I always had these backstories to tell. Each piece came with a note to share the piece’s history. Other pieces were made for me by those who were jewelry makers, which was another kind of story to imbue meaning into objects. . . I still feel so blessed when I think of this, and I hear the stories of these people in my mind each time I put on my earrings and necklaces. (No one to tell these stories to now, ha ha!)

Reply
Deb

That’s a tearjerker! A pandemic is a very emotional time and I am easily moved tears. These tears were in a good way!! Loved this story.

Reply
Yael Kotlowitz

Beautiful Mao Babies but the romantic and wonderful story behind your acquiring them touches my ❤️.

Reply
Lisa D.

The color combination, and your assembly of objects – lamp, books, shells, flowers – is SO pretty!

Reply
Sunflower

Love a romantic story Vicki!
The secrecy and thought of the gift for an anniversary. Wonderful. ❤️

Reply
1010ParkPlace

That’s what’s so special about art. There is something that appeals to everyone, and I feel no compulsion to explain my tastes to anyone. Before the lockdown I invited an older neighbor over and upon entering she said, “Your tastes are… (long pause)… unusual.” LOL! I get it. There’s old Aubusson tapestries on my dining chairs and then in the living room a three-quarter life-sized black and white Albert Watson photograph of Keith Richards flanked by black iron snake sconces with Fortuny shades. She didn’t know what to make of any of it. xoxox, Brenda

Reply
Victoria

Cat Street – real name is Upper Lascar Row, and yes another great hunting ground. Do you remember the Man Mo Temple nearby – another HK treasure with its massive spiral incense burners twirling from the temple’s ceiling.

Reply
rena.spain

Whenever I saw these pink babies I wanted to ask you about the meaning? But
it wasn’t appropiete to the blog theme. Now thank’s to your lovely told story at last I
know it. I wouldn’t say they are beautiful but they are a real eyecatcher and you decorated them so well. B.t.w. where is this painting hanging?

Reply
Vicki

Our bedroom for the moment.. it has had many homes :)
In this house, I wanted a colourful room… I always have neutral bedrooms .. so I decided to make a change ..

Reply
Vicki

Yes!!! I love that idea… I think it might just have to go there next… Definitely!! Thank you Rena… :)

Reply
Leslie in Oregon

Vicki, do you know the name of the artist who painted The Mao Babies, the date it was painted or the import of the name “The Mao Babies?”?

Reply
Vicki

I do…but have forgotten and need to look in my records … I had one moment where I thought it may have an important pedigree as there is a series of very famous Mao Babies… but it is a different artist… and perhaps they were inspired by the other collection?

Reply
Cheryl Brooks

Loved the story behind the Mao Babies! It reminded me of how acquired one of my favourite decor items in my home. We bought a huge, nearly 2m tall, 4 leaf lacquered antique screen in Hollywood Rd. about 25 + years ago. I don’t think the shop/gallery is there any more–so many of them are now groovy bars and great little restaurants, which is nice, but a pity all the same. Last time we were in HK was Jan. 2019, (pre-Pro-Democracy demos and The Virus!) and as usual, headed up to potter around the Hollywood Rd. area. Big surprise, as in that neighbourhood is now a wonderful arts/culture/shopping area housed in the former Central Police Station and gaol complex. I wrote a blog all about it, and the nearby Police Married Quarters building (also converted into an arts precinct). Maybe you’ve visited this? If not, next time you’re in HK, do check it out. You might like to have a browse through the story I published back in March 2019: http://parisplusplus.com/other-destinations/new-life-for-two-historic-complexes-in-hong-kong/ Thanks again for a lovely story–and what a thoughtful husband you have! Always look forward to your blog posts. Kind regards, Cheryl

Reply
Vicki

Yes Cheryl, I spent hours there! It is such a discovery and one not obvious to most people I would think… I was uncertain as to what the building was or if it was open… but it’s a great browse… I can’t wait to go back! I found the most fantastic vintage clothes shops around there too… and bought a beautiful hand-embroidered kimono style dressing gown… one of my other fabulous finds :)

Reply
Mona Turner

Vicki, I love a good love story! If I get goose bumps from a touching song or a story, I know it’s magical, and I think what David’s love did for you is a magical moment. Thank-you for sharing your story!

Reply
Missi

How interesting! Your husband was so sweet to get your babies. Did you ever name them? I think I’d want to. :)

Reply
jeanne..c.

What a beautiful love story..he sure is a keeper..as you are too..X

Reply

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