JUNK |2014|
Windsor chair, pinecone, wallpaper, info board
80 x 41 x 41cm

Dining room chair rescued from a municipal skip and appraised for its worth. Installation.


This chair was in the possession of the Smith family who occupied Falcon Lodge House (built 1820 in the late-Georgian style) throughout the 20th century, until sold by landowner Mr B. Cattell in 1937, along with 20 hectares of farmland to Sutton Coldfield Corporation and razed to the ground to make way for a municipal housing estate, which takes its name from the house, and forms part of the Sutton Coldfield conurbation.

The widowed Annie Smith relocated with her only child Lucia, taking as much furniture as possible to a smallholding in Norfolk where they lived throughout the Second World War. Due to problems with diabetes, Annie’s eyesight deteriorated into blindness, leaving Lucia with full responsibility of the farm and sole carer of Annie, until, early one morning, Lucia found her mother drowned in the shallow lake on the outskirts of the farm in an apparent suicide.

The orphaned Lucia Smith agreed to marry local mechanic Leonard Orr on condition they settle in the newly formed Falcon Lodge Estate, selling all the furniture from the original house apart from a dining table and four chairs to help fund both the marriage and the move. Of the five children Leonard and Lucia Orr went on to have, the first died during infancy, the only son was killed in a car accident at 18, and the eldest daughter was murdered aged 19 in Birmingham city centre.

Cut flowers were not permitted in the local authority house on Chadwick Road as Lucia considered them synonymous with death.

The rule remained unbroken when, after 56 years of marriage, Leonard suffered a fatal heart attack out walking alone in Pype Hayes Park. As her mental health began to decline, Lucia could often be found walking her black dog along Wyatt Road from Lindridge Road; which marks the line of the drive to the long-disappeared Falcon Lodge House, or sat in silence at the dining table positioned to see visitors arrive through the open back door, where, between fits of rage, she came to describe herself as a burden. Haunted by the “physical memories” that surrounded her, Lucia took any possession she couldn’t give away out to the garden to heap on a fire that burned for days until satisfied at the near emptiness inside. Before waking early to open every window beyond each net curtain in the house and leaving for the usual route. Her body was discovered drowned in the stream that splits the estate along Churchill Road.

There were no flowers at the funeral of Lucia Orr (1922 – 2009).


© 2014 PM BROWNE