Monday, 28 January 2008

For Iris



I found this painting book at a flea market at the weekend. It was hidden under a pile of old photos and books. Beside it on the stall were some other exercise books belonging to the original owner, a little girl called Iris, but it was this painting book that needed to come home with us! It was full of drawings and paintings the little girl had painted over a century ago and we had no idea what other treasures were between its covers. As we handed the money over to the stall holder he noticed my little girl standing beside me with her own sketch book in her hand (she's going through a lovely phase of taking her drawing book everywhere at the moment and just sitting down and doodling!) and I hadn't noticed the comparisons until that moment. Two little girls, a century apart, both taking such innocent pleasure in their drawings. I often feel very sad seeing people's belonging ending up on a stall for other people to buy, intimate personal things being looked at by all of us and it moved me to think of this little girl, Iris, who had once sat down happily painting away with, thankfully, no idea, of where her paintings would end up. I'm glad that we bought it and I'm glad that it's home with us to look after.



Made in the 1890s, this book is full of wonderful floral prints to be copied by a budding young artist



Beautiful victorian floral images, here are just some of them.







On some of the pages Iris has had a go herself and she seems to be a very talented little artist.



Hidden amongst the pages were some old postcards that she must have treasured to have kept them in her book. A German Easter Card from 1903 addressed to Iris and a postcard from 1912 to her new address in London from admirer possibly who says they think of her often! It was only later when I read the postcard again I noticed the address, Iris lived five minutes away from where M and I lived when we were in London!



At the back of the book was an assortment of letters addressed to Iris, written during the First World War. In 1915 she received a letter from the East Sussex Constabulary which enclosed her residence permit. One, writtten in 1916 had the "Opened by Censor" stamp on it. Sent to Denmark it had been returned, its contents written by Iris were thanking a friend for passing on news of mutual friends who had been involved in the fighting. In the same year Iris received a letter from Denmark passing on the sad news of a friend's death through action and that another was at the front. The following year Iris made a donation to The Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel, was it the sad news that had prompted it? The hostel thanks Iris for her "practical sympathy in the welfare of our gallant men."

This little collection of paintings and letters has moved me so much this weekend. On the way back from the market, sitting on the bus next to my daughter who was still cheerfully sketching away, I looked through the painting book. Before all the tragedy of the First World War, Iris must have experienced the same sort of innocent pleasure as my daughter and I am so pleased that she did.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post and lucky you to have found those treasures. Thank you for sharing that story with us. Wouldn't you just love to know what happened to Iris and how the rest of her life was.

Lallee said...

This is so intriguing. What a treasure that fell into your hands. I think Iris would be pleased to know it was in hands that appreciate it.

driftwood said...

what a poignant collection in amongst those beautiful flowers.

Garden girl said...

What a brilliant post, I didn't want it to end!!I agree with Lallee, imagine how fantastic Iris would feel, knowing that her beautiful pictures are now being enjoyed and appreciated across the world. The detail in the pictures is beautiful, what a talented young lady she was.Anna x

She'sSewPretty said...

Oh Kim! What a wonderful, wonderful treasure! I hope you will share more pages with us. It is almost eerie that your daughter was sketching in her book when you found that one.

Jackie M said...

Thank you so much for sharing those treasures with us Kim, they are such wonderful finds and you wrote about them so beautifully. Jackie Mx

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

Thank goodness you are now the keeper of this momento - I am sure it was meant to be!

andsewtosleep said...

Hi Kim
What a lovely find. Even more special that you draw comparison between your daughter's interest in art and Iris. I wonder what will be left from our throw away generation?
Mary

Suzie Sews said...

What a treasure.

Chookyblue said...

wow what a find.........now for you and your dayghter to treasure

kathyann said...

What a wonderful find ,its as if it was meant to be!I agree with everyone elses comments,the pictures are just so lovely,something for you to treasure alongside your daughters drawing!love from Kathyann and the girls

Liz said...

What a fantastic find. The detail in those flower pictures looks amazing. We have a similar book that was my grans 'autograph' book, full of beautiful writing and paintings.

dottycookie said...

Your post has moved me enormously - thank you for sharing Iris with us. I'm glad you are looking after her treasures now - you'll take good care of them.

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

What a wonderful post Kim, it was definitely meant to fall into your hands, must be fate. If only we could step back in time just for a peep into Iris's world. But good to know the book is with someone who appreciates it. Oh and I enjoyed the walk yesterday, I couldn't get out into the sunshine so thanks for the virtual stroll up the downs.
Gill x

French Knots said...

What a touching find, treasures from a world long gone. A little peep into her life.

the homely year said...

What a wonderful find...the pictures are gorgeous. There's so much history there. It seems strange, but my daughter is in labour with her second child right at this moment and at the weekend we were talking about girl's names.
I had suddenly thought of Iris and suggested it to her. I don't know if she will choose it, probably not, but isn't it a coincidence!
Margaret (and Noreen)

Andrea said...

Oh my goodness, it is so lovely to think that it is now in safe hands, weird how you did not even know this person and yet you hold such personal possessions!?
Andrea
x

Thimbleanna said...

What a fun and lucky find. I love old books like that. What happens to our stuff after we die makes me sad too. Don't you wonder -- didn't she have any little granddaughters who would cherish that book. She's so fortunate you came along to treasure her little book!

meggie said...

Another lovely post to tug the heartstrings, & stir memories. Somewhere I have an Anthology of verse & sketches, done by some forgotten relative. As a child I loved to pore over it.

Clare said...

What an amazing and special find - truly a book to treasure.

Cowboys & Custard said...

What a thought provoking post Kim..
This is a very fine example of how in some ways our lives have changed so dramatically and yet not at all.. your daughter still enjoying those innocent and rewarding pastimes..
I find old diaries and letters very poignant but also I love to imagine how it was then and admire the people who created these beautiful mementos that were testament to the loves and losses of their lives.

Michelex

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

WOW! Kim,
What an absolute treasure - it seems to have found the perfect custodian to take care of it too! The illustrations are just stunning.
Niki

PG said...

Such a gorgeous find, and thankfully it has found the right home. :)

Mary said...

Like you I find it so sad that Iris had no family to treasure these things I'm so glad they have such a good home Mary

Emma Herian said...

How amazing, what a treasure of a find. What a nice name as well, Iris. I wonder what she would have looked like?
What will you do with it now, will you frame some of the pics?
I am now nursing the dreaded wisdom tooth ache, can it get any worse!?
x Emx

Jasminé said...

So sweet!What a nice blog
I wish we had flea-markets here in Ireland...they don't seem to have caught on here.
I remember in CapeTown the most beautiful markets with the mountains as a backdrop.
how I miss home!
x

Raindrops said...

What a lovely thing to find. The pictures are beautiful.
Tricia

Victorian Lady said...

So pretty :) I like the way the girl wrote Iris too. :)

Sorry I hadn't told you about the tag...it took longer to post than expected and with two little ones pulling at my knees, I figured I'd do it in the morning. So here it is officially :)
TAG...You're it!
lol
Mere
P.S. I honestly, truly love your blog! The first time I saw it I was drooling over your creations and the countryside! :)

Maxine said...

What a lovely post and quite poignant too. I'm sure it's something that you will treasure.

Leanne said...

what a wonderful post, and what treasure! green with envy here! I am however really pleased this has found a home with someone who will treasure it!

leanne x

Heidi said...

What a wonderful find Kim! You were meant to discover it and keep it safe. This is just so special. It is a peek into Iris' life so that her spirit can stay alive. I am so glad it was you that discovered it and words cannot express how moved I felt at seeing the wonderful pictures and letters. How precious to be able to make these comparisons to your own dear little one!

Hugs ~
Heidi

Margaret said...

What a beautiful collection! It's always amazing when you can find something like this. I'm sure you'll treasure it! What a find!

mollycupcakes said...

That was a very moving post. I'm sure Iris were ever she is now will be proud to know that her beautiful paintings and letters have come to rest in your lovely home. And that you yourself have a budding artist in the making.
Have a great week.
Hugs.
Catherine x

nicolafraser said...

How beautiful. It warms the heart to see its now being fully appreciated. What gorgeous detail in the pictures. Lovely post.

Katherines Dream said...

What a lovely find and something that you will always treasure.
What a coincidence that she live only 5 mins away!
Hugs,
Carol xx

PurpleFlowerFairy said...

what a fabulous find!!! debbie =)

Gina said...

That is AMAZING! I love it. It's so very pretty.

Curlew Country said...

Such a moving collection and how amazing that its found a new home with people who will treasure and be inspired by it. The drawings are so beautiful. I wonder what a life she had? I'm so glad you found this and shared it with us. Thanks Kim.
Stephx

Tracy said...

That is lovely, fabulous find, Kim! You find the best things. I would love to be able to do watercolor painting like that! Happy Days with your new little beauty. ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

That really is a beautiful book and the letters, so poignant. What a great find.
cd&m
http://catondarlingandmoore.typepad.com

Sea Angels said...

Hi Kim, what a stunning find and so inspirational as well as beautiful. I am soooo pleased for you, it's so nice to know these very precious prettys are still around.
Hugs Lynn x

Pretty Practicals said...

What a gorgeous find, full of special moments ~ just lovely!

Clare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clare said...

Hi Kim, what a truly amazing find - you must treasure it always. It is possible that the printed illustrations in the book were from Catherine Klein's originals, as such books were produced using her work.

I hope your daughter continues to enjoy her own artistry!

Clare x

weirdbunny said...

What an amazing find. I love it when I buy second hand books that have letters etc inside.

emily said...

What an amazing find! Thank you for sharing it with us!

callmemadam said...

What a wondeful haul! I have an album full of old postcards, bookmarks, tickets etc. found in second hand books I have bought. They are a lovely link with the past. I also like to have inscriptions in old books and think about the girls who read them so long ago.

julia said...

What a lovely and poignant post. Iris would be thrilled I'm sure that her book ended up with you.
Julia xx

Shirl said...

Things like this always bring a tear to my eye. Her cherished belongings probably subject to house clearance before getting to the boot sale - so sad.

But, obviously it was meant for you to find and treasure ... :0)

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Ohhh wonderful!!! I love this story about Iris and your daughter!! Chill bumps all over the place!

Lynda said...

Oh what a beautiful treasure you found, Kim! I often wonder about the people who once owned the things I pick up. Thanks for sharing Iris's story ... I can only imagine that she's happy that her book is being enjoyed once again. ~ hugs, Lynda xo

Wild Rose said...

What a beautiful post Kim. I am so late in visiting your blog, but so glad that I scrolled down and found this.

The sketches are beautiful ~ I love the red poppies and the little blue flowers on the same page. Thank you for sharing it with us. I feel certain that you will treasure this collection and that it is in safe hands now.

Marie x

Louise said...

What a wonderful find! I think Iris would be thrilled that her book has such a lovely new home!

Kalyan said...

lovely work!

hannah said...

what an amazing find!