Even on Chairs of Bronze

art chairs charlottetownI was walking from my in-law’s house to work the other day. It is longer than my normal commute by foot, but is no great punishment. Prince Edward Island, when not beset by winter storms that are just starting to get serious as they pummel New England, is an intensely beautiful place. Besides the allure of history and literature, the romance of brine-coated fishermen’s beards and red soil turned to the sky and white beaches that kiss the sea for miles on end, our city is blessed with tall trees, quaint houses, and many green squares.

I looked forward to the walk.

mark butcher chair king's square charlottetownAs I walked through Old King’s Square with some story or another in my ear I looked over to the art installation. It is a series of bronze chairs, patterned after 1880s dining room chairs but at 1.5 the size. The original chair designer was 19th century entrepreneur, Mark Butcher. His furniture factory was where Maritime Christian College spent the first four decades of its life. City Council thought a nod to this history in King’s Square would bring a sense of nostalgia and fun to the area.

As I was walking through the Square, I looked up to see the five bronze chairs. There, sitting on one of the chairs, was a young man. With Dr. Dre earphones on, he sat with his back to me, listening to some song or other. As he lost himself in the music, his legs dangled from the half-giant height of this outdoor dining room chair. And as his legs dangled, he naturally allowed them to swing back and forth, sometimes hooking onto the chair legs and sometimes churning in boyish circles.

danglingfeet-bwIt was a joyous site: an adult sitting on an expensive piece of art, enjoying his music and allowing his feet to dangle. I remembered how often I slid into old country house dining room chairs as a kid. I remember the weight of my freeflung feet on my knees, and the not infrequent reminder from a parent or grandparent or aunt to stop kicking the chair.

But how could I stop it? Legs dangle when they hang from big chairs. Every kid knows that.

All of this went through my mind I as I wandered through the park. I dallied too long in reverie, though. As I walked by the guy looked up and caught me smiling. He blushed, took up a goofy grin, and stilled his wavering feet. I tried to look away, but it was too late.

king's square chairs charlottetownI was struck, though, with how strange our world is. It honours a certain kind of adultness—adulticity, I call it–a strange desire to restrain wandering legs as they dangle from giant chairs. I felt badly that this adulticity would have brought the man into self-consciousness. I wished he could dangle anyway, despite my intrusion.

Because, after all, the child in me wants to swing his legs when he can’t reach the floor. Even when he is stealing some time on a local art exhibit.

And even when sitting on chairs of bronze.

historic king's square charlottetown

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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8 Responses to Even on Chairs of Bronze

  1. thegatheringfire says:

    What a beautiful moment! I’m glad you were there to experience it and to share it with others. Personally, I’m a leg-swinger at heart myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L.A. Smith says:

    I have to admit feeling secretly jealous of the short people who can still do this even when they are an adult. 🙂


  3. jubilare says:

    Right with you, on this. It is strange, isn’t it? Strange and sad.


  4. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful story. I love that it is not only allowable to interact with an art exhibit in such a way, but that it is also expected and almost necessary. I mean, the chairs would be kind of useless if no one sat in them. To fully appreciate art, we have to act like children sometimes. Adults tend to have a far too formal relationship with art– viewing it from a distance with awe and respect, and forgetting to simply lose themselves in utter delight at it and appreciation of it.


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