Tales from a family tree

Once upon a time there was a family ‘Wood’.

NARRATIVE: The grains and texture of our possessions are just like the words on a page. They tell a tale of their life before us and build on this history layer by layer.

NARRATIVE: The grains and texture of our possessions are just like the words on a page. They tell a tale of their life before us and build on this history layer by layer.

It comprised a paint-stained chair, two side tables, a giant chopping board, a small desk and a very fashionable cheeseboard.

The paint-stained chair, originally one of four, came from an old farmhouse where a pair of love-locked hippies and their two little girls spent idyll hours on a farm called Bonnie Doon, alongside a creek and below a very small, but perfectly-formed mountain.

The two tables, legs sanded and smoothed out of apple tree branches and tops made of Tasmanian blackwood and myrtle, were also part of the Wood family. They came from a very busy shed, behind a tidy house in a very neat suburb of Launceston, called Newstead.

There was a ring-in from WA, a giant among chopping boards, made of WA hardwood, its sides mitred and lovingly polished with beeswax and presented as the most amazing Christmas gift EVER.

The small desk was made of one piece of Huon pine. An old school desk, the table had holes drilled under its slab top to stop it warping. Four sturdy legs, it was no object of beauty, rather a beast of function.

The youngest Wood, the very fashionable cheese board, was blackwood, so black it looked more like walnut.

Said the cheeseboard: ``I was part of a stand of ancient blackwoods behind Scottsdale. The landowner chopped us down to install a new pivot irrigator. They were about to set fire to us, when a maker from Burnie heard about us and came and saved us from ash.’’

The two little tables told stories of their early days when their legs were sturdy branches of apple trees in the Tamar Valley, when Jack the orchardist ‘who could make anything’ repurposed them with love, skill and joy from his perfectly-organised shed in Newstead.

The paint-stained chair could tell tales of a woman and her four children, its original owners, before the hippies.

``She left with four kids in the middle of the night because ‘he’d found’ where she was hiding. She told the hippies they could keep her furniture because she needed to ‘travel fast and light,’’ the stained chair told the others.

The little tables couldn’t believe the chair’s story.

``Our lives were so different on the orchard in the Tamar Valley. Days were peacefully filled with clean light and our branches were loaded with stout fruits, year after year.’’

The giant, grandfather chopping board also told his story.

``I was part of floorboards in a 19th century Fremantle mansion,” he said in his deep, rumbling Leonard Cohen voice.

“I came across the Nullarbor with a man who loved to keep pieces of timber.”

The sturdy table was a working table at StGiles, a school for children with disability during the 1940s till 1990.

``I think I was made for function not form. I think I might even have been a very important teacher’s desk,’’ the table said.

Can inanimate objects tell a story? Of course they can and should.

This eclectic life causes our collection of belongings to grow until they become more than just pieces of furniture but a setting for our stories.

This week I attended the funeral of a fine craftsman, Jack Wivell and it was Jack’s little orchard-inspired tables that got me looking at the stories behind our furniture.

Meaning behind function from stories of our lives and the great joy of living with the family Wood.

In memory of Jack.

... they become more than just pieces of furniture ...