Monday, April 26, 2010

The amber jelly bowl

"a golden cut glass dish where Mother used to make the Christmas and New Year jellies that we would hold up to the light and look through, to see the gold"

(Chapter 24, The Envoy From Mirror City)

After my Frame grandparents had both died, my mother and her sister Janet Frame forfeited their share of the family house and land at "Willowglen" in Oamaru, in favour of their one remaining sibling my uncle George Frame. George kept most of the furniture and chattels, but Janet writes, towards the end of her third volume of autobiography, of choosing just a few keepsakes and bringing them north to my family home in Northcote, Auckland.

And so she did - I remember it well. In fact in the last chapter of that book I get a walk-on part myself: because I "played" with some of the inherited treasures, in a way that she initially perceived as disrespectful. My innocent co-opting of some of the keepsakes for my play house, is used as a metaphor for Janet's own literary use of treasures from other people's life for her fiction. (She asked and received my permission to write about that, by the way!)

The jelly bowl wasn't a play thing though. It became for a time the Gordon family jelly bowl too, and then, a fruit bowl. I always loved it, even though it had sustained a few chips over the years, and eventually Mum handed it on to my care.

Last year I took the bowl and some other significant family heirlooms and lent them to the North Otago Museum at Oamaru, where they are now on view as part of the Janet Frame display.

No comments: