Some objects I’ve selected for this project have impacted on me more than others and I’ve used this blog to write about it. Today’s objects are a case in point – a tiny, bronze vintage pendant and an even tinier bronze brooch, both imprinted with ballroom dancers. The initials marked on the smaller of the two suggest that this was once the brooch of a qualified dance teacher. The pendant might have been presented as an award of some sort, or it’s possibly an item to signify the former owner’s affiliation to a national society of ballroom dancers – who knows? Unlike the ballerina brooch I wrote about in an earlier post, I know nothing about these particular pieces of jewellery, other than their obvious association with dance; I have no emotional attachment to them, but was attracted to the vintage patina and the elegance of the dancers.

In terms of collecting and holding onto small items like these, the narrative associated with them often interests me just as much as the actual objects themselves. I don’t know the story behind these dance-related pieces but they’ve stirred my imagination and led me to think about who they might once have belonged to. Were they valued as something special at some point in somebody’s life and if so, at what point did they change from being treasured to something discarded?

While I will never know their history, I do know that I won’t be parting with them any time soon. Though of no sentimental value to me, I feel strongly attached to them. Perhaps because they remind me of my own parents who, years ago, tried so hard to learn how to waltz, tango and foxtrot – putting in hours of practise in my sister’s and mine bedroom, where they pushed our twin beds against the wall to make space to rehearse their steps before their next week’s lesson. The laughter was infectious as Mum ribbed my Dad about his ‘two left feet’ and utter lack of rhythm. Memories of them, in love, shuffling around to the sound of music I still recall – these moments encapsulated in time, tangible reminders of a happy past.

Cut to the present – the harsh, stark reality of it and unbearable, heartbreaking numbers of COVID-19 deaths being reported day after day. I’ve welcomed the continuity and structure that the ‘Connected’ project has provided at a time when, like so many of us, I’ve felt unable to take on the full horror of what’s going on around me. Reaching out and staying connected feels ever more important in these unimaginable, unprecedented times.


Today as part of my ‘Connected’ project, I’ve paired up two badges. They’re quite different from other items I’ve posted so far but when I came across them in my sorting, they felt more pertinent than ever. I first acquired them through being involved in a campaign against academisation at my sons’ state school. That was in 2016, a point when I witnessed democracy under threat and watched first hand, people behave in ways I considered to be unacceptable. With new leadership, the school’s culture underwent rapid change in a very short space of time; transforming a brilliant community school into an academy was the goal, it seemed, in spite of initial reassurances to the contrary. Those in positions of power, appointed in order to be accountable to the school community at large and transparent in their actions, simply weren’t; secrecy prevailed, meetings were held behind closed doors and a ‘my way or the highway’ doctrine set in.

The campaign was inspiring and brought parents together. It succeeded in delaying the academisation, but in the end, with the government’s support, it was pushed through. Subsequent scathing, national reports of a serious lack of pastoral care for the most vulnerable children and young people in education, as well as financial irregularities within a number of academy schools, have confirmed my worst fears about what academisation can mean. There’s a lot more detail I could go into, but it’s in the past now, and some things are just best left unsaid. But these two small badges have stirred up a lot of those old feelings – that power of objects again, however small or insignificant they might appear on the surface.

And as conversations around the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the UK revolve around what’s true/what’s not, who’s accountable in all this and so on, I find myself experiencing similar feelings to those of 2016 – of mistrust, of suspicion and of a very real, raw anger. There’s so much that resonates from the past with the situation we’re currently in – uncertain, anxious times in which lies and misinformation, unless confronted, will continue to be drip fed to us. What’s the likelihood, I wonder of members of this government ever being held to account for the gross errors made in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic? There are so many questions to be asked – harsh, serious questions about how this country’s health and social care system was ever allowed to be eroded to the point it was. Will this pandemic be a wake-up call to all that was wrong? Can we ever go back to how things were? Will things ultimately, change?

There have been many eloquent thoughts written on the subject, this quote from one by Nasrine Malik in a Guardian article in March, 2020 being a great example:

‘Austerity has already claimed lives; but, because of their speed and visibility, coronavirus deaths are not as easy to style out. We no longer know how to hold a government to account on the truly important matters of the day. The pandemic needs to be a wake-up call – or else the Conservative government will continue to kill us, then walk at our funeral.’

You can read Nasrine Malik’s full article here:



Yesterday was day 17 of ‘Connected’ an online project I created as a way of reaching out and staying in touch with those around me during the April lockdown. As someone who’s interested in objects as indicators of the passing of time, these brooches (particularly the larger of the two) hold strong memories of the places in which I acquired them and mark the number of years that have passed since I came to own them.

The larger one’s been kept for over 30 years and bears the marks of wear and tear. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of vintage jewellery and was given to me as a gift by Trish, the manager of a retro clothing store who I worked for in the late 1980s in upstate New York. My subsequent friendship with Trish and my love of ballet means that, in spite of not having worn it for some years now, I’ve held onto this exquisite brooch. It became something more cherished and precious following Trish’s untimely death a few years after I returned to the UK.

The smaller one is something I picked up from Greenwich market probably about 20 years ago, from a stall where a woman specialised in selling things from the 50s/60s era. She would often sell multiples of things and I recall the labels on the pieces of card the ballerina (and a small deer) were mounted on being stamped with ‘Made in Hong Kong.’ I also remember the ballerina brooch being one of many on the day I bought it – certainly not unique! It’s kept in good shape, despite it being of far inferior quality compared to the one given to me by Trish – cheaply manufactured and mass-produced by the same company who made the small deer brooch that I posted on day 2. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s sweet and reminiscent of my childhood when cheap jewellery was freely available and accessible to all – pocket money trinkets.

I’m now half way through ‘Connected’ and have enjoyed the process of pairing up the various objects I’ve gathered together – similar, but fitting together perfectly as a unit, through their difference. The daily process of sorting, finding and posting images of paired up objects on social media has provided me with a structure in an otherwise upside down world. But it’s gone beyond that in the past day or two and I’ve had to stop and take note of the emotional impact some of the objects have had on me, recognising that some are of greater sentimental value than others – of no real monetary value but ultimately, priceless – charged with the emotions associated with them. I wrote a short post about the heightened significance of lockets a couple of days ago – how much more symbolic they became at a point in time when we are universally surrounded by death and mourning. In a similar vein, the brooch Trish gave me took on a different meaning when I learned of her death – and here I am, years later, acknowledging that. Objects really do have the power to be the containers of strong emotion, it seems.

There’s been a nice positive response to ‘Connected’ online; images of small attractive objects are a welcome distraction from the real horror surrounding us, I imagine. But their appeal I think, also lays in the fact that so many of these objects resonate and evoke powerful, nostalgic memories. If ever there was a time for looking back with affection and sentimental longing for the past, it is now.


locket:  a small ornamental case, typically made of gold or silver, worn round a person’s neck on a chain and used to hold things of sentimental value, such as a photograph

As I posted the image of a pair of lockets for my online ‘Connected’ project recently, I was struck by how significant this particular piece of jewellery is. And of course, how ever more pertinent the sentiments around a locket have become in the current climate, one in which death and mourning have entered our lives on such an extraordinary, unprecedented and universal scale.

A locket is probably the most intimate item of jewellery – the ultimate keepsake when it comes to keeping loved and cherished ones close – quite literally – to ones’ heart. The preservation of a photo or a lock of hair encapsulates memories of loved ones on the deepest possible level and in April 2020, as we steer our way through this global pandemic lockdown, keeping loved ones close has taken on an unparalleled significance.

I’ve always been interested in objects as clear indicators of the passage of time. Themes of loss and remembrance reflect my ongoing fascination with the permanence of objects versus the fragility of life; the lockets, in this respect, have take on an even greater significance.

‘Connected’ is now at its half way point. I will continue to post images throughout the month of April as a reminder, as I said in my last post here: ‘ … of the importance of the virtues of love and compassion, reaching out, looking out for each other – and crucially, staying connected.’ 

I hope that we can.



the state of being joined or linked; a feeling of belonging to or having affinity with a particular person or group.’

Every day in the month of April, I’m going to focus on finding objects which are similar but different. To start the ball rolling, today April 1st 2020, I’m posting an image of two objects – a pair of small plastic ballerinas, parted from their music boxes but united in their similarities. Tomorrow, I will post an image of just one object and continue to do so on alternate days; on the days in between, I’ll be placing a similar (but different) object next to the original one.

Over 30 days, as the objects are connected/twinned with each other, I’ll post the images on social media:



Reuniting 30 small objects in this way is a tribute to my twin sons who like so many of us across the entire world right now, are in lock down in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s a reminder of the importance of the virtues of love and compassion, reaching out, looking out for each other and crucially, staying connected – especially with those who are alone, in such unprecedented times. Take care and stay connected, everyone!