"This is my nana’s hat that she used to wear all the time, especially in the garden. She lived next door to me when I was growing up, so she was like a third parent to me. I feel lucky to have had her for such a big part of my life. I think lots of people don’t get that kind of relationship with their grandparents. Her name is Gladys Edith Agnes Drinkrow. She just turned 89 in January this year.
Nana's always been this super strong-willed, independent woman who looks after everyone in the family and never needed any looking after herself. She had a really beautiful garden as well. It was a super special place to play as a kid. I used to run around her garden, smell all of the flowers and come back with a yellow nose.
For quite a long time, she has been developing dementia. The last time I went home was the first time that she didn’t recognise me. She has recently moved into a home, away from the house that she’s lived in for the whole time I’ve known her.
I was helping clean up her house and my mum encouraged me to have a look for something special to take, that reminded me of Nana. She’s got all of this beautiful china, and lovely little trinkets, but I didn’t want to take anything from its place. It felt like everything really belonged in the house. Then I saw this hat in the back room. It’s falling apart, and a bit faded, but I love it."
What does sentimentality mean to you?
"I think it’s an object that oozes memories. When I look at this hat, I can see Nana wearing it out in the garden, bending down on a knee pad with a trowel, wheeling her squeaky wheelbarrow, walking down the lawn with her tiny dog following her, and sitting in her chair on the deck.
I think all of my sentimental objects are centred around my family. The objects I’ve kept that I wouldn’t go and purchase for myself. The little reminders of how I’ve grown up, what’s important to me, and the people who aren’t around me, but are a part of me. I need to be willing to let go of some of these objects. If everything is sentimental, and I’m allowing new things to come in as well, that have whatever meaning they have, then I have to be willing to part with the older things." - Rosie, Te Whanganui-a-tara/Wellington (Interview: Chloe Mason)