Things & Thoughts, Objects & Non-objects, Zen & Zoom

Ruth HartleyHome, Objects, PhilosophyLeave a Comment

‘Things are points of stability in life,’ the South Korean-born, Swiss-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han writes in his new book, Undinge (Nonobjects), ‘Objects stabilise human life insofar as they give it a continuity,’

A small and beautiful bowl made by Bente Lorenz who loved to experiment with different glazes she made herself. This is a bowl she was pleased with and loved. She made a present of it to me so it’s very precious.

I read this article titled Byung-Chul Han: How objects lost their magic by Gesine Borcherdt in the online Art Review and felt it was important for me without being sure I fully grasped it. It’s easier to hold a ‘thing’ – an ‘object’ –  than it is to hold onto a philosophical idea.

Han says, ‘Today we chase after information, without gaining knowledge. We take note of everything, without gaining insight. We communicate constantly, without participating in a community. We save masses of data, without keeping track of memories. We accumulate friends and followers, without encountering others. This is how information develops a lifeform: inexistant* and impermanent.’

This sugar bowl belonged to my great grandparents. It was their wedding present in 1850. I use it every day since my father gave it to me. I love it and I love sugar in my coffee. It’s central to my life.

*I have only found this word in French where I understand it to mean – nothing – absence – vacant – null- void.

Objects and Objectification

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Simon Zukas

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Apartheid, Family, Freedom Fighters, History, Mpapa Gallery, Zambia8 Comments

Simon Zukas, a kind and principled freedom fighter

Memorial Candle lit for Simon Zukas

There are people in one’s life who are so important and yet so much woven into the fabric of that life that you take them for granted. This is true even of the people in our families, parents, siblings and also spouses. There comes a sudden moment when you realise that you love a person and need them in your life but in reality, you don’t know a great deal about them. Simon Zukas was significant in every important aspect of my life, but I didn’t know it fully until I found myself crying hopelessly at the news of his death on Monday morning, 27th September.

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Belonging and longing for home

Ruth HartleyDisplacement, Family, History, Home, identity, Journeys, Migration, pilgrimage, Slavery, Zambia, Zimbabwe2 Comments

Settlers and the unsettled

I grew up in a settler community of new homes but the land we took was already the home of African peoples. Many of my school friends’ families were Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe who had nowhere else to go and hoped one day to go to Israel. I quote from a friend Paul M who wrote that ‘the Festival of Sukkot is to commemorate the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the Wilderness after leaving Egypt until we came to the Land of Israel.’ He says that ‘the sukkah (an outdoor pavilion roofed with leaves and branches) is a reminder of the temporary dwellings used to protect the wanderers from the elements.’

Where do I belong?

I had been talking with friends about the rupture of Brexit, about citizenship, about our changing homes and what we might claim as our nationality and rightful home so Paul’s post meant much to me.

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We need new names and new roles

Ruth HartleyFamily, Names6 Comments

Do we marry a person or marry a wife or husband?

We were a new family, my mother, stepfather, two step-sisters, my sister and me. I was 16 years old when my mother and stepfather had a bitter argument – a natural part of adapting to a new relationship. My mother in utter misery, took to her bed weeping and distraught and stayed there all day. I was a wiser child then than I am now as an adult.

‘Get up and carry on.’ I told her. She did. Later she came back smiling.

‘Jack says that he didn’t marry a wife. He married me, Pixie, the person that I am.’  

Edwardian roles

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Elles sont tombées

Ruth HartleyWomen, Women's Bodies,, Women's Education, Women's Rights4 Comments

Detail of painting of falling figures 2005

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban has filled me with despair for the future and hopes of women there and for women everywhere. I felt driven to once again show the paintings I made about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre together with my installation about women. It is on show in the Foyer Rural in Labatut-Riviere and I will be pleased to talk about it to anyone who is interested as I know many people are. If you want to see the exhibition please contact me in the Comment box below. If you want to help refugees this is a local Facebook group here in the Gers

Robert Maisonneuve, the maire of my village, has placed this information in the village newsletter here. I am very grateful to him and to the village for allowing me to show my work. A version in French of this post is below .

I want to highly recommend that you read the Statement by the Women’s collective on the subject of the Taliban and Muslim women. It is thoughtful and very important.


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