This weekend I saw a retrospective of the work of artist Charles Ledray. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Ledray creates perfect, lovingly crafted miniature versions of seemingly banal objects from life, such as clothing or pottery. Some of the objects are oddly surreal, but many are simply scaled down, with an appearance of being worn, lived in, ordinary items their owner has possessed forever and no longer even notices. These are not the possessions of the rich and powerful, but rather of the kind of people that are just trying to get through each day:

At first the feeling is merely uncanny, as though you have stumbled upon the personal effects of an eerily miniaturized stranger. But after a while something else happens. You begin to realize that the miniaturization is a deliberate perspective effect — a representation of distance. Although in this case the distance is not so much of space as of time. The impression that gradually emerges is one of rueful nostalgia, of seeing into the telling details of a life now gone.

After half an hour with these works, I found myself thinking about the impermanence of life, of the fleeting nature of the comfort that we find in life as it is lived. The cumulative effect was immensely powerful, even startling, like unexpectedly discovering a set of photos of joyful young people at a wedding from sixty years ago.

And I was reminded that the simple comforts of the everyday, those very aspects of life that we most take for granted, are in fact life’s most precious possessions.

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