Friday, January 16, 2009

What's on your desk?

Last week when I was working at school a parent came
into the office and started reading the spines of the
books on the bookshelf. "I'm always curious about
what people are reading," she said. When I worked
for a big oil and gas company I was interested in what
people had on their desks. One sign of a higher position
in the hierarchy was a completely empty desk. So an
executive's desk would typically be an expanse of mahogany
with an elegant (never used) pen set, and perhaps a small
wrought iron sculpture of a bull, or a man on horse back.
I'd walk in across the broadloom with my notebook and briefcase,
and that was always more clutter than the V.P. could bare
-- me + notebook (oh and pen) + briefcase. It was standard
practice to ask the secretary (always a woman) to take the
briefcase (no matter how slim and classy) away. She almost
always hid the offensive item in a cupboard until I emerged
from my interview.

In that circumstance status = empty desk. By that
gauge I am lowly indeed. My desk seems to grow its own
new conceptual art piece daily. Here's a random sample from
today's: coffee mug (a must), scissors, soggy cat toy (a fake mouse
taken away because the cat was eating it). Three glass jars of pens,
and one antique glass cream jug of pens, a Mavis Cheek novel,
a butter knife (used to separate pieces of watercolour paper
from the block), a journal, wooden triangles to go into canvas
corners, my course timetable from school, a roll of Scotch tape,
a coloured print of a painting, and The Book of Fruits, The
Complete "Pomona Britannica" by George Brookshaw.
The book is absolutely lovely and was on sale for $2.00
at Indigo.
Of course that's more or less the surface level --
the upper surface of the pile.

But I'm curious. What's on your desk? My desk doesn't have
any drawers, but I know that's not enough of a reason for
its clutter. On TED TV I saw a software invention that would
make your computer desktop look as crowded as my desk, and
I couldn't completely grasp the advantages of extending the
clutter to one of the predictably orderly places in my life.

Winter in Toronto

On a side note, it's bitterly cold here today, and a huge section
of the city was without power for 24 hours. So if you live
in a southern area, enjoy your warmth.


Theresa Rankin said...

Well, I bet the drawings is going great guns (I can't wait to see) and I hope it starts getting warmer soon...but probably not! It has been terribly cold here and a little has finally warmed up to the 30's today!! My desk...which one? Ha! The one I use all the time is my old 1940 mahogany dining room table (48x84 roughly) set atop Max's two flat files with about twenty-five drawers on each side...full of way to much stuff including flat art and cat toys. On top...1950 rotary phone atop a large speaker, computer, printer, coffee mug (Yes a must), Max's college pottery which holds pens and pencils, brushes and scissors, two hand turned cedar wood vases with dried money plant in one, scotch tape, stapler, handmade copper box that holds bills I I have to see them or I will forget about them!!), handmade quilted table pad under the copper box, a glass paperweight with embedded pennies, a stack of empty cd's, a few art mags and a fair amount of dust and animal hair. That's the arrangement for today!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Theresa,

Thanks for your faith in me. Your setup sounds just amazing and would be just about big enough for me. I forgot to say that my 20 inch screen Imac is on my desk and I don't think my desk is a full 36 x 48 inches. I also have taken over the dining room table, and I should measure that. On the lower layers I see that my desk holds bills (thanks for the reminder) and an exacto knife, a marks book, a stack of 81/2 x 11 card stock, a library card for Pugwash, Nova Scotia, a shell, and a metal alley (marble).

I'm pretending there's no dust or animal hair, but who am I kidding!

Take care,
Love Barbara

Portrait Artist

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!