A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood. Charlotte Davis Kasl
After thinking about it for a minute Linda came to the conclusion that her most treasured items are two keepsakes from her two daughters Charlotte and Hannah.
Tucked deeply into her purse she pulls them out revealing her tiny treasures of her daughters’ childhood. It is no surprise like any other parent Linda is highly animated when she talks about her daughters. Linda says, “These objects make me feel good!” Her little pocket of treasures contain a photograph of both daughters on a trip to Spain to see their grandparents, A quaint hand made card with a pressed flower on the cover from one daughter and a faux gold ring from the other. Reminiscing she smiles and recalls when the two objects were given. The handmade card and ring were given on separate Mother’s Day when both daughters between the ages of seven and eight. These are the reasons that she holds Mother’s Day close to her heart since receiving both gifts. The card is quite touching not only because effort was made to create it, but, it’s the words contained inside. Though incorrectly spelt which coincidentally adds to its charm one can’t help but go ‘Awww…’
On one of the pages it reads, ‘ I hope the sunshins and I bet it is very exsiting for you xx,” The faux gold ring is wrapped individually and on opening has left behind its imprint from age. Her youngest daughter’s inscription reads, ‘A special gift for the worlds best Mum love from Hannah xxxx.’ ‘Real’ collected treasures are those rare and special moments when someone shares their most intimate feelings about an experience or their feelings for someone and at times the object becomes the symbol of that memory whether good or bad. Linda was asked to describe in one word her treasures and she responded, “Precious…”
CONTEXT: Reflection on Treasures
Although Barthes has presented his theories of denotation and connotation of images related to advertising, it can most certainly be applied here. The objects or treasures in themselves are perceived as literal before we take a closer look at the true meaning. The symbolic message and literal message work together so that we make sense of it all. As Barthes can be quoted, we have within Linda’s treasures a ‘floating chain of signifieds’. Interpretations of the treasures are made up of an internal bank of signs drawn from a range of personal experiences, knowledge, activities etc. As these interpretations unravel, the language must incorporate an element of enlightenment and surprise, which builds greater interest in the subject.
The Photograph of Charlotte & Hannah
The initial message of the photograph is that it serves as a record (from a literal perspective). This outdoor summer scene has been captured and as Barthes demonstrates has become ‘mechanized’, a construction by the hand of man. The children are not active, but face frontal with the elder sister’s arm draped over the other. Both girls are certainly aware of the camera with Charlotte appearing protective of her baby sister. Charlotte quite possibly has been coerced to grin and to drape her arm over her sister’s shoulder and Hannah looking direct, almost with a quizzical expression waiting to hear the next instruction from the photographer?
Treasures on Mother’s Day – Why they are extra special.
The act of giving is special and is heightened on special occasions such as Mother’s Day in this instance.
- The Pressed Flower a symbol of tender love and beauty, longevity and the act of savouring something precious.
- At the tender age of 7/8 she has decorated and packaged an object to convey feelings of love and respect for mommy dearest.
- She gives instructions on how to explore the card, so that Mum does not miss all the effort that has gone into preparing the card. Charlotte deliberately controls how the gift is to be read. Charlotte’s scattered text navigates the Mum through the meaning of the gift, causing her to avoid some meanings and receiving others. Barthes describes it as: ‘… It remote controls him towards a meaning chosen in advance.’ By Charlotte purposely controlling the text, it sheds light on what is being communicated revealing certain signs such as the aforementioned ones.
- Symbol of love
- Wrapped in paper for extra care. She has wrapped it in pink paper
- She has already acquired cultural baggage whether it may be seeing the rings on her parents fingers along with other factors that communicated a ring has value.
- Gold representing the highest value according to Hannah
Both parties were comfortable in the dining area of the Bed and Breakfast , the home and family business of Linda and her husband. The actual interview took place in I managed to sustain the interview for half an hour on which we started to discuss more things of a personal nature with regards to her family. I was beginning to wonder if I had asked enough questions since my notes didn’t seem that long. It was only when I really sat down and had a good think, all the elements were there ready to be interpreted. This project certainly felt less about being an academic and became more of a mixture of the latter, intuition and ethnography. It is actually quite amazing what information you can unearth in half of an hour. Linda and I will be going for a cup of tea before I leave Dundee!
While Linda was taking a phone call in the other room, I had myself a wee snoop. A combination of wanting to appear cultured and family oriented came to the fore. Apart from feeling airy and looking tidy, the dining area is carefully decorated with specific objects on display. Of particular interest are the books positioned by the lounge area. They are propped upright front view, so on walking into the area the covers are facing outwards. Books on the Queen Mother, Australia and Kenya suggest they are quite well traveled or aspire to be so. I couldn’t figure out if there was a genuine interest in the Queen Mother or if this was for the visitors. Glancing around the room you will find some sculpture, a Maori Warrior, and a couple of African pieces. The walls are decorated with a subtle floral, which match the patterns of the textured tablecloths. Two drawings from Hannah are in the dining room a testament that Linda wants to surround herself with family, even though the dining area can be described as a ‘public space.’ These drawings are obviously treasures too harking back to childhood; what seems to be an extraordinarily happy time with her daughter.