Some objects are transient; they pass in and out of lives.

Then there are objects that are treasured and kept safe for generations. The memories we associate with our possessions can create strong bonds between inanimate things and us. What are the qualities that endear some objects to us and cause us to part with others?

The way something feels in your hands. Its smell. How it came into your life. We use functional objects every day perhaps without thinking about them – a coffee cup, a toothbrush, a plate. There are also the objects we choose to live with that perform no function other than to bring us joy or to spark a memory of an event. They are physical markers of being alive – of a time, of the past, of a collected memory.

Thinking about these ideas I went to visit my friend Jonas to see what objects he lived with and the importance he placed on particular ones.

It was a rainy night, cold, a full moon and he had turned the heater on in his house just for me (or I like to tell myself that he did). We had a cup of ginger tea, ate some chocolate with stevia in it (a first time for me) and talked about art and life. We spoke of the veneer of social media, the realities facing most artists we know and the balance between paid work, your practice and family. I have a one and half year old and Jonas has two girls, aged three.

As I walked into Jonas’ bedroom room I noted it was sparse, ordered but had a warmth to it (maybe not literally, until the heater was turned on). I could tell the objects he lived with were very considered. The room had strong links to Jonas as a person. I asked a few questions, mostly about the artwork on his walls, before choosing the objects I wanted to talk to him about.

In the corner of his room was an altar-like scene with three crudely carved figurative sculptures atop. I was instantly drawn to them, and so my questioning began. I learnt that Jonas had made these three carvings of Nordic mythological gods of Freya, Frey and Odin.


Jonas 05 copy.jpg


I had spoken to Jonas about his three figures, but he apologetically changed his mind. Something about privacy still being an important value with some personal objects that doesn’t get transgressed. I understood his point of view. We spoke again.



Jonas is moving house.

He tells me it’s like living in Jenga. I talk to him via Skype because I live in another state now. A city of boxes in your loungeroom holding all your worldly possessions. Packing and unpacking things you live with. Discarding things that ‘don’t make the cut’.

This time we spoke Jonas showed me a box he had made in high school. It was a small wooden box with an acorn and oak leaf carved into it. It was slightly clunky and looked like something you’d like to hold.

When he was seventeen he was excommunicated from the church he was a part of (for coming out as gay) he told me of how he had had a limited time to grab his possessions and only the back of a car to pack things into. This object had come with him for it’s size and ease of packing-ness and was a nostalgic reminder of where he had come from.

‘Materials of preference to live with are wood, brass and marble’.

It was interesting to think why it was that Jonas liked living around these natural elements.

Perhaps it is the connection to nature? To his Swedish heritage? The aesthetic?

I got off topic.

Back to the box.

Jonas picked up the box and started going through the objects in it. These objects are less about materiality, and more about the funny memories each items holds for him. I have a similar drawer full of these kind of things. I never use them, but I like to have them.

‘Not much love in here. Lots of things shoved in. Not even sure why I have some of these things.’

The list of items in the box include:

– Maternal Grandmother’s wedding ring

– Old watch (broken) bought at Chapel Street Bazaar in 1998. It has sliding panels. ‘One day I want to actually get it fixed’, Jonas tells me.

– Unknown keys

– Snake rune rings

– Glass ring.  ‘Ugly’ Jonas tells me

– Wooden ring bought for $5. Kind of masculine looking. ‘I should wear that again’

– Mushroom ring. ‘I love it, but it catches on everything’

– Some Swedish kronor

– Silver thimble ring a friend made

– Badges

– Scandinavian stone axe amulet

– Clip-on earrings that were worn to a party in the early 2000s.

– Fake nose ring

– Pendant that he made from an old aluminum pot – back in his ‘environmental hippyish days’    

(made with a hacksaw and hammer)

– Jew’s harp (mouth harp) he played it for me. “I’ve never been able to do it and also that was

rusty. Gross.’

– Swedish dog tag. ‘All Swedish people have one of these – it has your DOB on it and a serial like number which is also used for banking, it lists the town you grew up in – it’s kind of like a birth certificate – it doesn’t have my blood group on it as Jehovous Witness are not allowed blood transfusions so mine says – Has not let know the blood group according to his own wishes. This could be a danger to your life’.

– Dust

On the inside of the wooden box is written 20.08.1993 in biro – which would have made Jonas 16 years old. The box was made in Year 10 in his woodworking class. Everyone was supposed to carve a gum nut and gum leaf into the lid of the box. Jonas put an acorn and oak leaf on his despite the teacher’s instructions. The teacher didn’t mind.

Why do you still have the box?

‘I’m not sure. I just like it.’

Kim Jaeger is a ceramicist based in Hobart. She is best known for her range of Pot Heads – hand made planter pots that are characterized by unique faces. The idea of functionality is central to Kim’s designs and her ongoing interest in sculptural form has lead to the investigation of functionality in art and an interest in how we live with objects in our everyday lives. Kim has exhibited her functional pieces in Los Angeles, Melbourne and Sydney and her work is in private collections worldwide.

Jonas Ropponen is a Melbourne based Australian artist making combine paintings, sculptures and prints. He often shows these together with confessional narratives. His bodily detritus (finger nail clippings, hair, blood and saliva) often features in his work in combination with pulped texts, found objects and pigment.

Living with Objects is a series of interviews discussing the most treasured crafted object in the home and its importance or relevance within a personal collection.


  1. Luke Devine says:

    January 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Some footage of this would have bin nice…………


  2. languageoflabour says:

    January 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Agreed, video would be a great addition to the site – at the moment we’re focusing on the written word / encouraging writing about objects – but stay tuned, who knows what the site will morph into!