February 14, 2011

Winter Light: Chairs

An empty chair holds a human presence, its enfolding form embraces us. Of all objects of use in a house, is any more evocative of the body than a chair? The old wooden chairs in my house are a motley group, no two matching, each with its color and character. This is probably the oldest of them, with too much wear for old repairs to have held.

The patterns of chair backs and rungs is repeated on the old linoleum floor.

The seats of chairs in raking winter light: the cane seat becoming so fragile that I no longer dare to use the chair; a charming, disheveled and worn pillow covering the living room rocker's seat, alongside a red bench. The light creates patterns on top of patterns.


  1. This is quite wonderful. I have some childrens' rockers that have been in my family for generations ( my great grandfather made one, great grandmother received other as a gift) I think of all the little toddlers in the families who have sat in them, including now, my own grandchildren. I touch the seats, and the warmth from the wood speaks to me of all those long ago babies.

  2. Debbie, I agree with you that children's chairs are very touching to see, even more than those of adults. So many lives and stories are bound up in them.

  3. If we had the room, I would have dozens of chairs. Some for sitting and some just for shape. We have a 19th C. English windsor and it is one of our most comfortable. You have a beautiful selection and all in keeping with the rest of your house.

  4. lovely line to begin the post..."an empty chair holds a human presence" and tells so many stories as it wears with time and its holdings. The third image is especially fine with the shadows on the flooring. You have a magical eye and the light you capture is divine.

  5. Linda, when I first bought this house, I kept buying chairs whenever I saw one, but then I had to stop. I love all the personalities they have.
    Thanks Maggie, for the nice words on the writing and images. Chairs do tell stories, don't they?

  6. Your chair is a lathe bottom chair, it was made from long strips of thin wetted wood. It took a great deal of skill to make them and is pretty much a lost art. I have one that has been in the family since it came from Pennsylvania in the late 1700's, yours looks to be about that same age. Mine belonged to our Kennedy line, who were the founders of Covington, Kentucky around 1792. Mine too is so fragile it can no longer be sat on, but I love that chair like no other.

    1. Thanks for that information on your chair, A., that is similar to mine. I can't imagine that mine is that old, but who knows, it might be.