As human beings, one of our more interesting traits is that of collecting, from the gradual process of gathering and selecting, through to our individual approaches of cataloguing, organising and eventually displaying. These can of course, be on a large scale, and done on behalf of communities and peoples, such as in museums, galleries, and shop fronts of many different kinds – and now the online purveyors of exactly-what-you-might-want-to-purchase-for-your-home, but the more interesting collections are those of the everyday, the individual collections of pebbles from the beach, mementos from previous holidays,fridge magnets, wine corks, postcards, pogs.
We live in an interesting time, so overwhelmed by materialism and disposable culture, that I see the objects we chose to keep, collect, and save as imbued with an innate special-ness. These collections can come to represent us, to our friends and families, and to those who may find the collections after us, as representations of our place in this time. Even the smallest, and most insignificant of collections has a story to tell. Collections don’t need to be fashionable, they just have to be curious and loved. I’m slightly fascinated by the now highly unfashionable thimble collections, cases for which can be found in most charity shops, along with a large collection of mostly uninteresting thimbles from obscure British towns and faded seaside resorts.
I’ve also held a long term curiosity about Cabinets of Curiosity, or Wunderkammer, (thank you University of Cumbria..), and collections that are neither ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’, that have been gathered, grouped and collected in a manner inspiring and pleasing to the gatherer, creating an individual narrative rather than an accurate depiction of natural history etc.
But where is all this going? As part of an ongoing project I have started to assemble a collection of objects, made, found, gathered and bought, that will hopefully encourage a little closer examination, a little conversation, and a little curiosity as to their reasons for gathering and placing. I’ve also been working with artists from blueprint100, and students from the Dumfries and Galloway Art and Design courses to create some of the works for these collections which has been a really exciting sharing process. All the participating artists and students were invited to make objects that related to the region, and that were suitable, caring and mindful for a healthcare environment.
Pewter cast object, by artist Agnė Zdanavičiūtė
Pewter cast key by artist Liam Templeton
It hasn’t stopped there. I’ve since been drawn back to eBay, madly collecting old, used postcards with curious snippets of tales on the back, cream pots and milk bottles, scrounging charity shops for old tourist tatt (whilst trying to avoid excessive mass produced plastics), my medal celebrating the last dip at the old Dumfries pool has gone in, as have other curios, pin badges, beach pebbles and seed heads.
The collections will be housed in bespoke designed cabinet-topped coffee tables, by Glasgow based design company, Dress for the Weather, and will hopefully be under production shortly.
If anyone has an old curiosities from the D&G area you’d like to see repurposed into a permanent artwork locally, from items of local history to tourist tat, please get in touch. I’d especially like to find some milk bottle tops – the kind that had the name of the area on them – or some pogs. Just because.