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24 September 2014

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Memories of my Dad
Marilyn's collection of her dads's thing

Memories of my Dad

By Marilyn Mann
Marilyn Mann is an artist at Norwich's Sainsbury Centre For Visual Arts, so it's hardly surprising she is keen on collections and has many of her own, including a box of objects representing the life of her father.

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Marilyn Mann has a box in her house which contains many special memories of her father, Thomas Lowe, but it doesn't hold many photographs.

Quote from Marilyn Mann

Instead, she prefers to keep artefacts that were part of her Dad's everyday life. Many of these items also tell a fascinating history.

Marilyn's father was a coal miner who went into the pits at the age of 14 in Staffordshire. She says he loved his job. Among the many objects she has kept is her father's shaving brush.

"This shaving brush is one he's had all his life and when he wasn't working in the coal mine he went into the army in the Second World War," said Marilyn.

"He took this shaving brush through the desert, up through Italy with (General) Montgomery in the 8th Army and I think that makes it quite a significant object, it's very worn out."

One of the strangest objects that Marilyn has kept is her father's false teeth.

"You might think I'm very macabre for keeping them, but I remember my father and mother telling me that it was a common present on your 21st birthday to have a complete set of false teeth," she said.

"It was a big deal. You'd probably had toothache for many years because people didn't really clean their teeth.

"They didn't understand how to look after their teeth and so by the time you were 21 you had this present of a very expensive set of false teeth and the end of toothache," she added.

Her father was frugal and didn't like to spend a lot of money so he would often mend his own socks.

"He liked to make do and mend. When I look at these stitches, I think that it was his hand that made those stitches - his great, big, coal-mining hands - and I find that very moving," she adds.

"I've kept lots of things, and these objects still have a life, whereas a photograph, well they become faded."

"For me, having a box like this keeps the person in the memory and prevents that person from completely dying. Because it is only our memory that keeps anyone alive," said Marilyn. 

last updated: 04/06/08
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