My dad. Around 1974. Posing in the livingroom for a newspaper article.
The photograph reminds me of how my childhood home always transformed.
He took a great interest in decorating it. But everything was temporary.
If he got his hands on some paint he’d paint until it was finished. Starting with the ceilings.
One time he ended up painting the bin room door, our vacuum cleaner as well his shoes with the same red colour.
Paintings, sculptures, textiles and odd bits would be exchanged and replaced.
At one point we had a massive figurehead from a sunken ship hanging from the living room wall. Her bare breasts gracing the view above our dinner table.
A model of the ship Charlotte Rhodes in the TV series Onedin line is one of few things that has stayed put in the house through the years. My sister was named after that boat.
My dad was a great collector but at the same time terribly unsentimental about materialistic stuff. He would sell to the first person he liked, without profit. Only to replace the object with something new. A wedding kimono from Japan, artifacts from Bali a front piece from a Sicilian donkey carriage, an aeroplane glider or perhaps a steam loco.
He made many trips to the UK returning with coal fired locomotives scale 1:8 or smaller.
One hot summer he fired up the steam lorry, kept by the TV, together with my next door friends Indian uncle, and drove up and down the street the rest of his stay.
Mum got wiser through the years and made him sign her name on paintings he had made and given her to make sure he didn’t sell them.
Our home was never much of show room of his own work.
Things did not have to be flat or framed to be displayed on the walls. In the kitchen rusty tools from his childhood summers up North by the river in “Ångermanland” hung next to objects from my mothers childhood farm and copper bowls from the Middle East and North Africa.
Dad didn’t hesitate to get me involved in creating stuff around the house.
He would complain about me ruining his good pens and beg me never to choose the hardship of an artistic profession. Totally in vain.
I have a memory of being around three years old, drawing figures, and dad cutting out the shapes in red and blue vinyl to stick to our yellow kitchen cabinets. Mine and his design together.
A great butterfly was stuck to fly above the wc chair and both bathrooms in the house got their ceilings decorated with dramatic sky’s in later years.
Rather than using wall paper he would hang large pieces of fabrics to get an instant change of the room and colour theme. Blue curtains from the ceiling to the floor with a busy pattern of leaves and stylised flowers together with blue corduroy pillows on the floor created a den in the corner of my room when I was little. At age seven I took charge of my room and picked out a red and white striped wall paper at ikea aiming to have what I believed to be a normal looking kids room. It didn’t last very long. When I moved out at age seventeen I filled a great amount of boxes with artifacts, and stuff.
The chimney of the detached house in Hjärup still has a rooster painted on it. The garage has always been crowned with more or less conventional wind direction objects. And in the garage a smiling sun has been shining since my parents invited the whole street for a midsummer party in 1972 and it would not stop raining outside.
Plants was another big thing. A lot of plants. And birds. My friends and I were payed to catch flies for his nightingales. A small waterfall naturally matched the jungle he installed ones a veranda was built. The stereo would play cassettes with thunderstorm recordings, and when my dad was in the mood he’d turn the lights down and use a camera flash for an extra effect to accompany the music of nature.
Our living room sofa was designed for a TV show and named “Stora famnen / the big embrace”. He bought it from a friend at the ad agency where he worked. It is still there today hugging me each time I visit my mother. You can not sit, only lie down in it. And the whole family, cats and dogs included could fit all at the same time.
To write these words makes me happy. To know that my dad has inspired me in a job that I love.
I lost the experience of unconditional love and security from my father early in life.
He started drinking when my brother got leukemia. And with the drink I lost a major part of
For this reason it makes a difference to share these memories with you.
I had a very unique dad and am rich of memories to tell. Despite the darkness.
For that I am grateful.
So on this Father’s Day Pappa, I feel proud and choose to salute you!
The New Yorker commissioned Peter Granser to photograph the amazing architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre in El Alto, Bolivia, http://www.newyorker.com/project/portfolio/high-aspirations Also availble as a book, http://granser.de/news.html