Sunday, 4 October 2009

Around the kitchen table/Within these walls #1

Often an innate object becomes a key centre point, not only for a photographer in setting their visual frame, but for us as a society, for us to conduct our daily life, our interactions and our ways of being human.

Traditionally the table, be it dinning room or kitchen became the centre-point for the day to day interactions and way of life for the family. While this still is considered to remain within the contemporary British farming kitchen, the kitchen table became the meeting point for family members, for important discussions, day to day catch ups and celebrations. Life, its up and its down, became heavily centred around the homes kitchen.

With so many meals today, or so the media depicts, and from what I know through my friends and my own student days, meals and life seems now to be developed and lived around another object - that of the TV. Rather then speaking to each other, we let the TV speak to us.

So through revisiting Life Magazine's website I stumbled across a selection entitled "Home Life 1930s" with a table being one of the key situations people are centred around. Here is just a selection allowing us into the homes, cafes and appearances of the 1930s;

A suited young gentleman, cigarette in hand is seated enjoying the company of three lovely ladies. Their hair so neatly curled, their cups and saucers in hand. Overtly feminine in her smile, the standard lamp casts a halo-like glow over her hair piece, while the empty plates and spoons lie used upon the table edging out of the visual frame.

Is the same discussion from above now being continued in another home around another delightful decorated circular table? Covered in a somewhat creased table cloth, an ornate glass vase still with blooming flowers stand proud along the cups, saucers and cakes. We can only assume the third ladies partner is taking the photograph, or does she sit along two dating couples? Or friends?

This could pass as one of the most emotive and descriptive pictures I've seen in a long while. Seated in a cafe, who are these people? Friends? Lovers secretly meeting in a cafe away from prying eyes? They are captured mid sentence, perhaps a somewhat frustrated, troubled look upon the females face as behind in the hazy distance a maid dressed in Victorian attire serves the cafe's customers.

"More sandwiches?" afternoon tea between two cheerful ladies, her hand fluttering above the tray of delights her cup resting on the table before them.

Is the young girl presenting her favourite book, her school record perhaps to the family friend, her aunt cheerily encouraged by the adult behind? The coffee table an object for drinking delights and the societal magazines underneath.

The German dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann sits along side his wife in 1931. Upon the table between their seated chairs sits the bust of a nude. While the eyes of man points in the direction of his wife, her eyes and gaze fail to catch either his or the audience, she appears glaring far into the distance, somewhat unamused.


  1. Thank you for the gorgeous images.

    It is indeed a pity that the TV does tend to play such a focal point in the house nowadays. It's one of the main reasons that I don't actually have a TV, it's mind-numbing.
    It's always good to have a separate dining room where one can sit down for a meal with friends or family!


  2. An excellent point, highlighted by such an engaging array of marvelous vintage photos. I think that the tradition of gathering round a table for family meals greatly needs to make a comeback.

    For all the technology that bombards our world each day, promising to help us stay in touch or contact one another faster, I feel like we're slipping away from having the quantity (and often quality) of personal conversations society had always taken part in until the past couple of decades (especially the last ten years).

    I work from home and often my husband's job allows him to as well, which means some days we're able to share all our meals around together, but even on days when our schedules don't allow for all three, I still try for supper or perhaps a late night snack. (I find) There's something vital about connecting with those you love around the family table every day.

    Wishing you a beautiful day, sweet dear!
    ♥ Jessica

  3. I love old photographs of people just doing day to day sorts of things...these are all very homely!

  4. I LOVE this post!

    AKA MissMatildaDreams