Large Star Wars Storm Trooper figures wearing masks
Lens-Artists,  Themed galleries

Gallery: finding interest in the everyday

Everyday objects shriek aloud

René Magritte

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say. Of course we all love to photograph a stunning landscape, an attractive old building, a beautiful flower or tree. But look carefully and you will find beauty in the most unexpected places. Or if not beauty, at the very least interest.

And that’s the Lens Artists challenge for us this week. In setting the challenge Patti talks about the ‘experience of walking through a city, the country, a museum, or a beach, for example, and something catches your eye’. That immediately spoke to me, as it’s exactly what I love to do! So I had no shortage of such ‘interesting objects’ in my archives; the question was, which to choose. I settled on a selection that has a bit of quirkiness, a bit of history and some cheerful colours to brighten the dull (in London at least) January days.

Objects, objects everywhere

Market stalls are a productive source of ‘objects’ images, especially flea markets. Museums too of course, if a bit obvious! But keep your eyes open and you’ll find them everywhere: a fence, a windowsill, even the local rubbish dump! My featured image was taken last year in Broadstairs, Kent – just an ordinary-looking house but clearly home to a Star Wars fan.

Others were taken on my travels. Wherever I go I try to find things to photograph beyond the obvious. Yes, in Rome I take photos of the Colosseum, but also of the nearby souvenir stalls*. And in Montmartre I do the same, photographing tourist knickknacks as well as the Sacré Coeur. The harbour in Monopoli was beautiful, but there’s beauty too in the vibrant colours of a broom casually propped against a wall.

My problem in the end wasn’t finding enough images for the challenge but in deciding which to leave out, to avoid overload. Maybe I failed in that latter task but with luck by including a lot of shots I’ve ensured that everyone will find something they like. Yes, hopefully some of these everyday objects will indeed ‘shriek aloud’!

*Please look away at that point if easily offended!

Three plastic ducks dressed as a soldier, a pirate and a diver

Spotted in the window of a river boat on the Seine in Paris; the first duck I have been told is Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, and we also have a pirate and a diver. Bath-time must be fun here, although judging by the cobwebs they haven’t seen water for some time!

Tiny figure of a Pope with a waving hand

In an Ealing window, taken today especially for this challenge. The same house also has two waving figures of the Queen, one in a pink dress and one in blue. Home to a Catholic Monarchist or a lover of the quirky and kitsch?

Small flower planter shaped like a VW camper van

On a windowsill in Brentford, west London – a VW campervan planter

Red mitten on railings with frosty grass and trees

On the railings around Lammas Park, Ealing, west London. Someone will be missing this mitten on such a frosty morning.

Small dolls head impaled on a fence

Spotted outside the Ealing Film Studios, west London – a prop, perhaps?

Small stone toadstool with a smiling face

Bringing a smile to passers-by during the pandemic, in an Ealing front garden, west London.

Two framed pictures and tin with artificial flowers propped against a wall

The workers at our local rubbish dump like to find decorative items among those discarded by residents, which they use to brighten the surroundings.

Red and white ribbons and tiny skull bead
Small heart shaped ornament

At Cross Bones Graveyard, London. This was an unconsecrated burial ground for the prostitutes, paupers and criminals who lived, worked and died in this once lawless corner of London. It was abandoned in the 1850s but locals have regularly fought off any redevelopment plans. Its gate is festooned with ribbons and tiny offerings as a shrine to the ‘outcast dead’. You can read all about it here:

Small wooden ornament with shells

On a tree at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, left no doubt as an offering to the spirits of the place.

Spinning toy made with green and gold foil paper

Spinning paper windmill on sale in Tynemouth, north east England. My parents would sometimes buy us these on seaside holidays, to stick into the sandcastles we built, but in those days they were made of less shiny paper. More often though we would have a packet of paper flags to fly from the battlements of our castles; can you still buy those, I wonder?

Wooden carved head and china Confucius-like figure
Small figure advertising Esso fuel

On stalls at the popular Tynemouth Sunday Market, held in the Metro station. Goods are a mix of bric-a-brac, crafts (often excellent), old football programmes and vinyl, and street food. The Esso man appears to be German; his name means Mr Drip!

Oil lamps and pulleys hanging on a wall

On display in the Watch House, Tynemouth. The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade was the first of its kind to be formed in 1864, and today still uses the Watch House as an operational base for its coastal search and rescue service. The building also serves as museum telling the story of the brigade and of the dangerous waters off this coast.

Old fashioned scales hanging in front of a white wall

Scales in the Pharmacology Museum in Riga, Latvia. I liked the way the shadows cast on the plain wall echoed the scales themselves, and they looked almost as if they were dancing. The museum features an alchemist’s laboratory of the 18th/19th century, and the hut of a folk medicine practitioner.

Broom with bright blue and red bristles
Artificial rose and leaves tied to a window grille

That colourful broom in Monopoli, southern Italy, and a window in Bologna.

Window display of felt owl key rings
Three paintings and an umbrella hanging on a wall with climbing plants

Felt owl keyrings for sale in a Tallinn craft shop, and paintings for sale in the old town. I don’t think the umbrella is for sale; the artist just hung it there out of the way I guess!

Eiffel Tower key rings

More keyrings: souvenirs for sale in Montmartre, Paris

Large decorative padlocks

Some interesting padlocks on a stall in Muttrah Souk in Muscat, Oman. I rather liked the tortoise!

Boxer shorts in the colours of the Italian flag with an impression of a sculpted male figure

Finally, on a souvenir stall near the Colosseum in Rome. And don’t say you weren’t warned that this wasn’t for those of delicate sensibilities!


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