Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Well, it was interesting to read your responses to the £795 handbag. Of the eighteen responses, sixteen boggled along with me, one had expensive-bag leanings and one, Linda, saw beautiful bags as craft items which are well worth the money. And I do see her point of view. It’s just that bags do nothing for me personally. Nor shoes. Nor clothes. Though I do like cloth, its colours and patterns and textures, and artefacts made from cloth.

It’s made me think about what I’m happy to spend money on and of course I do have my extravagances. Holidays, for example. We don’t go on terribly expensive ones, but they do cost more than that handbag and yet we manage to justify them to ourselves. The garden… I don’t spend hundreds at a time, but over the years it’s not been a cheap hobby. Maybe handbags feed some people’s souls as my garden does mine. And I do like pretty objects – as I said in a recent post, our house is not without stuff. If someone made me spend £795 or more on an object (and if I had anywhere to put it) I might buy a craftsman-made chair or table, a piece of antique furniture or porcelain or glass or a picture.

Last year when we were in Devon – it’s confession time - we bought a very expensive painting. Above you see a really rubbish photo of it. I must get Mr Life to take a better one Anyway, I absolutely love it. As you would be able to see if I had a better camera or possibly knew better how to use it, you feel you can reach out and touch the bowl, eat the cherries. I know some people would see this as too photographic, but I much prefer this to the sloshy-slosh school of art.

This painting cost – well, not twice the handbag, but not far off. I justified its purchase by thinking of all the birthday money my parents have given me for years that I haven’t spent. But while this is true, no one could say that we needed this picture. I wanted it. Not the same thing. And there are people starving in the world as I am only too aware.

So there we are. I suspect that a lot of the people who were of my mind about bags may have their own extravagances. Material stashes, anyone? Cats or dogs with the food/injections/insurance/beds that go along with them? Cars? Flowers?

Just as I was about to publish this last night, Daughter 2 phoned to say that she and her actor chap have got engaged. We're glad she's happy but we wish he had a steady job.


  1. Must admit that I'd put paintings into a totally different catagory to designer handbags. Our spending is generally small scale (of necessity), though I know husband would buy musical instruments costing thousands if he had the means - they would all be handmade in traditional forms and quite works of art in their own right. I just can't imagine wanting to spend that sort of cash on clothes or handbags or shoes either.

  2. Sharon10:46 pm

    My major extravagance is and always has been books! They may not be as much as an expensive handbag one at a time, but they add up quickly.

  3. Well, first of all -- congratulations to DD2! I know it comes with mixed feelings, but at least the on-the-fence feeling is gone? And you know what a Scottish wedding means to me -- Kilts! (Ok, sorry, I'm trying to be funny and cheer you up.)

    As for extravagances -- I too LOVE your beautiful painting. That is something I would buy -- it's gorgeous Isabelle. I'm not the sloshy slosh type either. My extravagances are always related to sewing or making stuff and I need to slow things down -- but then I'll see a pretty (to me) fabric. I'm starting to worry about who's going to clean this mess up. Oh and our kitties have proven to be a bit expensive. When Scruff ate that ribbon, the surgery was $1500. I know lots of people would have just put him to sleep, but I just couldn't. And he's paid us back many times over in entertainment value! XOXO.

  4. Oh yes, kilts! OMG kilts! Excellent.

    Congratulations to the happy young people, and for what it's worth I like your painting too.

  5. I doubt I'd even spend $100 on a handbag, frankly. I don't even really consider a handbag to be an "accessory" or part of my outfit in any way. It's the thing I use to carry life's necessities with me. I certainly never change handbags to go with my outfit (which is probably why I have so much rubbish festering away at the bottom of it) but then I only really wear shades of purple so by default I'm always colour coordinated!

    Personally I am waiting until Mister Fixit is on a decent wage before I develop a line in extravagances.

    Congratulations to your daughter! Have they set a date?

  6. It is a beautiful painting and I would have bought it too.

    Buying art is not about need, but it contributes to the world by emabling artists to continue practising their craft. It makes the hard work worthwhile, it makes you part of a continuum of artistic production that has existed for centuries.

    There isnt another one of hese paintings. thats the thing bout paintings. And it will be loved for ever and ever and never gotten sick of.

    Stil Lifes are such a lovely subject, too. And it is crafty and clever, the way it tricks you nto reaching for a cherry, is it not? Its delightful.

    So much more than a handbag, the choice of which is largely dictated by clever marketing and the opportunity to increase ones sense of staus and worth.

    But hey, I consider people who own real art to be particularly cultivated and tasteful. So many expensive Sydney houses shimmer with sparkle and glamour, yet the walls are bare, as if art is beyond the realms of choosing and owning. Shame really.

    Not that I am a painter or anything, no. Not at

  7. I'm about to spend many Mulberry handbags-worth on stone flooring, beautiful creamy limestone that will give me the same sort of daily pleasure that your painting gives you, and will endure for future generations.

    Congratulations to the young couple.

  8. Thank you for thinking about the point I was trying to make.

    Obviously some people do not have any spare cash to spend on any luxuries, and I would never want to see anyone go into debt through buying anything they don't need. There are pensions and future weddingings to be taken into consideration!
    Apart from those issues, though, we all have our individual likes. I think your painting is absolutely beautiful, and Fifi is right, buying a work of art enables an artist to continue. My husband believes that buying anything of quality provides work, and the higher the standard, the more people benefit along the chain. Fancy shops, fancy advertising, fancy goods - they all contibute to more employment along the way - designers, shopfitters, leather producers, sales staff in fancy designer clothes. This money is then passed along. The higher you spend, the further the money works its way down, providing employment at each stage along the way.
    I actually don't approve of this as a way to have built our economy, but it is the way it is now. If we stop spending, whether it is in the shops, in the vet's surgery or in galleries, things will just grind to a halt and redundancies result.
    And I love the idea of creamy limestone flooring, just haven't anywhere to put it!

  9. That is a lovely picture, and will give you untold pleasure. And a garden is a lovesome thing, God wot, and gives such pleasure throughout the seasons and over the years. Tilling the soil, and growing things is an innate need, in my view, whereas the pleasure from a one-off handbag has only fleeting value.

  10. I'm a bit of a handbag collector, would never ever spend that amount though!

    Congratulations to your daughter:-)

  11. Congratulations to the engaged couple. Did I miss the wedding date or did you say?

    Your painting is wonderful. I like the fact that you chose to spend on an original art work. I try to hang only original works in my home.


  12. I love your picture but am totally with you on the handbag. You could buy a small car for that it would take you places. My spending is definitely garden related. I have just sent off a bulb order for native bulbs which would make me blench were I not shameless.

  13. I'm glad someone tried to make a good case for the pricey handbag, but I'm really still not that convinced that the higher you spend the further the money goes down, not with everything anyway, though I can see that there's a case for spending some more sometimes like that. And really buying to last and keeping the things makes good sense.

    But fashion isn't based on that. It's based on manipulating our tastes and creating permanent dissatisfaction and false needs and desires. OK it pays the leather manufacturers etc but it pays the people at the top much more, and anyway filling your life with that kind of clutter isn't how to be happy. I know none of us is immune to these kind of forces, and I'm not advocating some joyless kind of puritanism, but there is no real need for all this over-stimulation.

    Most of these designer handbags are hideous, puffy, gross things with too much pointless detail. I know that's my personal perception, but in a couple of years time it will be how they'll seem to the people who were eagerly spending too much money on them and creating record levels of debt, and they'll be wanting the next thing. I'm sorry but I don't believe it does anyone any good!

    We spent probably about as much as you did on your picture on our alabaster swan sculpture, but it went to a young artist who we know and admire, as well as to the quarriers, shippers and sellers of alabaster. Still totally unnecessary and indulgent and I feel a bit precious and snooty saying how much more worthy and worthwhile it is than a handbag, but at least we'll go owning it and on thinking it's beautiful for the rest of our lives, not wanting something else five minutes later.

    Rant over. Your picture is lovely too.

  14. Oh, and congratulations to and about betrothed daughter. Perhaps future s-i-l's luck will now turn on the job front!

  15. Oh Lucy, you are very articulate - you said it all, and so well! Your alabaster swan sculpture sounds gorgeous, and well worth the money you spent.
    And just for the record, I think Isabelle's painting is beautiful. I do not like abstract art; I can't understand it. But this picture is a beautiful rendition of clearly recognisable still life.
    I would definitely be willing to spend a few hundred pounds buying that!