My OBT

My daily quest for One Beautiful Thing (OBT)

Much Loved

29 Comments

Pink Teddy looks like I feel. Photo and caption above by Mark Nixon

It’s hard to believe I’m writing another one of these awful notes, and only a week after the last one. I don’t recognize this world. I don’t know where all this hate and violence is coming from. Leaving the analysis and problem solving to bigger brains than mine, I’m going to just keep on keeping on with the beautiful things and hope that some day soon we don’t need them quite so much.  Wishing us all better days. ❤

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit (Big thank you to fellow blogger/photographer earthSTILLS who brought this lovely passage to mind!)

These photos of well-loved, much-used, stuffed (and formerly stuffed) animals photographed by Mark Nixon make me feel a million things at once. They’re sweet and funny and a little gross and in such deplorable states that it makes me really wonder about their owners. Nixon includes some sweet background and stories with each new toy, but I want more. I wish Nixon had included the lengths of the toy owners’ (human) relationships. I wonder if these kids didn’t grow up to be really good at sticking with long-term relationships. If anyone out there is casting about for a Ph.D. dissertation topic, I think that would be a great one.

I quite like how Nixon got the idea.

“Much Loved started as a very simple idea: to photograph some “loved to bits” teddy bears for an exhibition in my studio, which happily has a gallery space. I got the idea from watching my son, Calum. I was struck by how attached he was to his Peter Rabbit, the way he squeezed it with delight when he was excited, the way he buried his nose in it while sucking his thumb, and how he just had to sleep with Peter every night. I vaguely remembered having similar childhood feelings about my own Panda.”

This inspired Nixon to put out the call for people’s old and beloved stuffed animals. The resulting photos are just stunning and a little hilarious, and eventually became a wonderful book.

And look at the book’s dedication. So sweet!

“When everything was unknown, they were there.
Where anything could happen, they were there.
These repositories of hugs, of fears, of hopes, of tears, of snots and smears.
Alone at night, they were the comforters, when monsters lurked in darkened corners, when raised voices muffled through floors and walls.
These silent witnesses, these constant companions, defenders of innocence.
Their touch, yes, but their smell, that instantly calming, all embalming musk, unique to each, soothing and smoothing the journey from consciousness to un, from purity to im, from infancy to adult-terre. (Very clever avoidance of the word adultery! How long do you think he wrestled with that one?)
Sworn to secrecy, unconditionally there, unjudgementally fair and almost always a bear.” -Mark Nixon

These pictures make me long for the favorite things of my youth (and the giraffe whose kidney(?) is hanging by a string made me long for hand sanitizer). My mother was a fiendish thrower away/giver away of all things no longer in use or in disrepair, so I didn’t have the experience of keeping something until it looked zombified. Did you ever keep a favorite toy until it reached this stage of photogenic decrepitude? Is it still a comfort?

All photos property of Mark Nixon.

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

29 thoughts on “Much Loved

  1. Thank you, Donna. Thank you for your determined consistent efforts to keep all our heads above water when the evils around us would drown us. You are a lifesaver. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a lovely photo project. There’s so much love and nostalgia and something about the passage and ravages of time wrapped up in these portraits of cuddlies. I think there is also a suggestion that something manky and ugly is worthy of love and affection.

    I still own two childhood cuddly toys: the bear I had from birth and a toy dog my brother intended to gift me for my birthday but he was killed two days before. I snuggled them and mangled them a lot during childhood but then have kept them safe and clean and preserved as an adult. I don’t even let my kids play with them. I would be gutted if anything happened to them.

    I actually think this was the perfect post for today. Even in the midst of decay and destruction and ugliness there is love and affection.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This immediately made me think of:

    “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

    ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

    ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

    ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

    ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
    ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

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  4. Interesting connection you made between having an old teddy and being good at long term relationships. I’ve never thought about that before, but my beloved teddy is 35 years old and I’ve been with my hubs for 20 years (I met him in high school). I told my husband before we married that I would always love my teddy just a little more than him…fortunately hubs was gracious enough to marry me anyway. Then he said he’d adopt my teddy and give him a good home. How could you not love a man like that?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been pondering that giraffe and his “kidney” all morning. Why the heck would a giraffe be holding a kidney? Then I looked at it for the 20th time and it became totally clear…it’s not a kidney, it’s a heart!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That poor sad looking teddy bear in the second row, the one that is nearly decapitated, reminds me of Danielle’s doll, Baby. Our son Bobby, gave the doll to Danielle for her first birthday. The doll was soft and puffy, and later came to be known as Saffy. She was the only doll that Danielle ever allowed to enter the house. Saffy received many years of love and after a while, like all us ladies, her puffiness began to shift. Danielle could be seen toting Saffy around the house, draped over her arm like a maître d, with the bulk of Saffy’s stuffing now mostly down in her feet and arms. Saffy still resides with Danielle and has a place of honor in her home.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A truly suitable response. I’m glad you found this! I have a lambie I’ve restuffed and restiched several times. You’ve inspired me to send her back to surgery today. My youngest loved her a little too much, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Not me personally. In fact my mother said that I had lost my teddy in a department store when I was about a year old, and with the impending birth of my baby brother, she searched high and low trying to find another one just like it. But it turns out, I didn't even care. However, my oldest son spent the first 5 years of his life with a teddy bear named Wilson that he still has stored somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My son inherited a rabbit from his brother. He named him Fluff. Sometimes he’d carefully examine him for several minutes, then turn to me and say, “Fluff is SO cute.” Fluff had several surgeries over the years to keep him together. When Andy was old enough to sleep over friends’ houses, he’d pack Fluff in his overnight bag. I recently discarded Fluff when I found his raggedy body hidden in a forgotten bag in the garage.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love Mark Nixon’s work. It resonates with me. As torn, worn, and delapidated the stuffed animals are, it is because of love, affection, and companionship. We almost left my son’s Dogfeet in a Burger King in Austin, Texas while on a short trip. My son was 3. Thankfully, we retrieved him and my son still asks after him 29 years later. I keep Dogfeet with my old things. He is a gentle tie to the past.

    Liked by 1 person

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