Postcards from before

I have just emptied an entire chest (kist, in my parlance) in search of one small notebook. This constitutes an act of bravery, for the kist contains boxes full of memories, and papers I should have filed a long time ago. I was calm, and did not get upset; it appears there is no reason to be so anymore.

I did not find the notebook. This means—it cannot mean anything else— that it is in the other kist. What I found was a small collection of postcards. I used to keep these particular ones on a noticeboard for decoration. They were written by various friends over roughly ten years from the early Eighties onwards. Some were sent inside envelopes, so as not to spoil them.

All were given to me because the giver knew I would like the image. I have a vague notion that I returned such compliments. I certainly remember spending hours in shops choosing postcards which I no longer have, so that must be what I did.

The images on the postcards themselves served as metatext: the young lesbian in love sends me one from Paris where she is on holiday with, you know, the older woman who bent her brain, En Secret, Alfred Manessier, 1956, which is part of this series (and I cannot find the exact image online).

Then there is the young Frenchman who sent me Femme avec chapeau by Gustav Klimt qui a été un des précurseurs de l’art abstrait”, he writes. Fragments of conversations about abstract art rattle around in my mind still, but I remember with a smile that the hairstyle of the aforementioned Woman with Hat was not unlike mine at the time, photographed in black and white in subdued lighting by this correspondent who believed he was capturing beauty by doing so. I never saw the photos, so who knows?

Another image which I cannot find online is a 1971 painting (the medium of which I am ignorant), 34 x 24 cm, by Dominique Appia entitled Le songe retrouvé. I see that the copyright was acquired in 1980 by Wizard & Genius AG, a Swiss company which sells somewhat confusingly named “wall murals”. So, here is a bad photo of my postcard which, over 30 years later, shows some signs of wear and tear. I am touched — and faintly amused — by what the sender wrote on the back of what served as a birthday card, She wrote, “Somehow, this card reminded me of you and your new abode; I imagine it has the same feeling about it”.

Dominique Appia, Le songe retrouvé, 1971

I suppose I have yet to find that dream apartment, with floor-to-ceiling glass, the better to appreciate the view. This does not matter, since it is so often more about the feeling — the atmosphere  — than the physical space we occupy.

Not all cards came from afar. I received a few joyful ones from my beloved, by local artists. I love these cheerful guinea fowl depicted in conversation. The postcard was on my desk one day when I came home from work.

Mike White, Conversation, © Deadly Dezigns, Harare, Zimbabwe

It is with some misgivings, therefore, that during a chat online to someone a few weeks ago, I declined the exuberant offer of a post card, on the basis that it was not necessary. I had forgotten what joy such things can bring.

©2018 Allison Wright


6 thoughts on “Postcards from before

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  1. I always used to fancy the idea of floor to ceiling windows, then I experienced the joys (?) of Velux windows (leak in the rain, impossible to open/close without fearing you’ll break something, either inside yourself or inside the roof, make your room superheated in the summer). Now I like rooms with small windows. And after this summer, so does everyone else in Sweden.


  2. These days, I find, I do not buy the postcards to send, but rather keep for myself. I could never get some of the photos they are able to.
    As for memories they can evoke–aside from the tacky ones–are wonderful and I lament that postcards seem to have lost their popularity. Fortunately, I have become a stamp collector recently and no stamp show is complete without someone selling postcards.


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