THIS ISN’T JUST A CHAIR
It’s a piece of history: mine and the chair’s entwined.
I’d been looking for a chair for a while. Any sort of chair – just something to sit on by the front door so that guests wouldn’t have to hop about when taking shoes on and off going in and out of the house.
Being a lover of one-offs and finding treasure in others’ trash, op-shopping is always my first port on such a quest, but this time, after a couple of months searching, my usual haunts – the Salvos and Vinnies, the tip and the second-hand shops – had turned up nothing for me.
Then just last week, on quite a different quest, I popped into a shop in nearby Blayney called White Rock Silver. In here it’s an eclectic mix of local art, craft, antiques and yumness masterminded by silversmith Rebecca Price. Just my kind of place. I’d been meaning to call in for some time to introduce myself and ask Rebecca if she’d consider designing a special piece for me – or more accurately for my husband Dean to lavish upon me. Her jewellery is beautiful – unique little snips of silvery art inlaid with resin or rocks – and we’d been searching and searching for just such a lovely something to celebrate our kidney coupling way back in December.
By coincidence I’d met Rebecca at a local arts networking evening a few days before, and although I didn’t have time on that occasion to accost her, I was sure that she was meant to be our special-request jeweller.
As soon as I stepped through the door of her shop, though, I spotted this chair. Double excitement! Of course Rebecca said she was only too happy to design a piece for us, and course the chair was for sale.
She showed me the back of the seat where it’s carved with the acronym ‘NSWGR’, and told me: ‘It’s an old railways chair, apparently.’
Is it what. When I got it home, a little research told me that it’s at least one hundred years old. The NSWGR – which stands for the New South Wales Government Railways – ceased to exist as an agency in 1915. For this history nerd, here is excitement nonpareil.
When I look at this chair, I imagine the thousands and thousands of backsides that have sat on it. Waiting-room conversations, journeys begun and ended, hearts broken and mended. I imagine who replaced the right-hand front leg with an odd-one-out, and wonder why.
When I touch it, I touch a century, a nation, and the curiosity that drives me every day to explore its stories. And, more immediately, I think of popping in on Rebecca next Saturday with Dean to dream up some new and lovely thing, which will soon embark on a journey all its own.