Let it all hang out: observations on washing & identity

I take a lot of pictures of building facades and over the years some of these have been because of the juxtaposition of the architecture with the personal  artefacts displayed. On a recent trip to Venice my eye was drawn to what seemed a quite surreal combination of an old weather-beaten apartment and professional, ultra-modern cycling gear. You cannot actually cycle in Venice so this cyclist would have to make quite an effort and cycle somewhere else!  My husband is a serious cyclist and I’ve become increasingly aware of cycling clothing and accessories.

Here’s another picture of a Venetian building facade with laundry hanging from one apartment.  I took this quite a few years ago and I still like the contrast in scale and the multitude of socks hanging high above and concentrated to one side.


The next picture was also taken in Italy but in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. I like the mix of the old Italianate building with its cupola and the arches of the apartment contrasted with the repeated motif of the blue jeans and shorts. Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s in post-war Italy denim would have had connotations of Americanisation and modernity, and maybe some of this symbolism still resonates when seen against the background of the architecture:


The next photo was taken in Kyoto in Japan last autumn. I’m not a naturally meticulously tidy person so I was impressed by the way the pyjama top and shirt were perfectly hung, pulled taut and symmetrical in harmony with the linear, modernist facade. in Japan folding has been elevated into an art form, most famously with paper folding in origami and most recently with Marie Kondo’s KonMarie method of decluttering, where even the socks one hasn’t thrown away are lovingly coiled. So the attention and care given this seemingly mundane domestic chore seemed connected to a cultural tradition of aesthetic precision.

The following pictures were taken in Ibiza Town; I liked the colourful semi-transparent gauze rags hanging from the balcony like an abstract still-life. I don’t know if these are cleaning rags or just decoration. I’d seen and photographed similar pieces of gauze decorating tree trunks around the city centre.



This display of washing brought a smile to my face as I like the mix of homely, colourful bed linen spiced-up with a bit of leopard print and black ostrich feather!


The next two images were taken in Israel. The first was taken in the Florentin area of southern Tel-Aviv, and in addition to the laundry features an oversized banner depicting a spiritual, religious leader as well as a row of Star of David hats used as decoration during the period leading up to the yearly celebration of Yom Haazmaut which is Israel’s Independence Day.


The next three photographs do not feature laundry as such but are connected by the theme of a hanging oriental rug. The first was taken by Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in the same period of Yom Haatzmaut – very obviously at the home of a Likud voter.

This airing rug was spotted in Venice:

And the final image was taken in the Parisian Banlieue:


The motif of the hanging oriental rug is one that resonates with me and will mean different things to different people according to their experience; it may suggest a timeless cleaning ritual,  it may suggest prayer, it may even evoke their roots or it may simply be overlooked …

6 thoughts on “Let it all hang out: observations on washing & identity”

  1. delightful piece Mish. A patient told me about this Maria Kondo stuff and how it has changed her life!!
    Interesting metaphor, hanging up clean washing


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