Monday, 26 July 2010

A month at a time

This Sunday was busy at the DLWP and it was great to see many people(of all ages) both at the exhibition and outside enjoying the sunshine. There was no time for swapping in the gallery today. The Pocillum was such a hit at Collectors Corner that we decided to keep the eggcups on display for most of the afternoon. Smalls -Murray, of Back Door Gallery had brought a variety of eggcups for viewing. These they had either found in junk shops and car boot sales or received through the post, donated by friends and members of the public throughout July 2008. The performance duo told us they always display the cups a month at a time and will never show the entire Collection as one exhibition. The Collection is ongoing and so far they have acquired around nine hundred items which are also stored in monthly groupings. Information about each cup is kept and discussed - every story becoming an integral part of the archive. Someone at Collector's Corner described a strange book shop in Liverpool where he was only allowed to see the books he requested, never the entire contents of the shop. However, there seems to be more than a need for control when curating The Pocillum; Smalls - Murray compared looking at the cups a month at a time to the pleasure to be had searching through one's loft and discovering forgotten treasures. "After all" they said, "Where's the fun to be had looking at a finished crossword?" And surely that's part of the pleasure everyone experiences when collecting? One of the audience suggested that they might feel too exposed were The Pocillum to be seen in total. They agreed; it is for them a very personal and private collection which they allow others to see (a bit). Gigi loved the show and talked about how she was moving from hoarder to minimalist. I asked what she attributed this to, age or necessity? She felt it was mix of both, but significantly as she grew older the need to define herself through her possessions had waned.

It was lovely talking with Marcia and her friend who wished to be known only as "Mystery Man". He seemed to be a collector of stories and vividly told us of an Irish woman he briefly knew over fifty years ago, described by Marcia as the 'love of his life'. Marcia didn't see the point of Takahashi's show. "I don't get it, it's not art, it's not beautiful, just a pile of rubbish. I've got that kind of stuff in my shed and people say to me 'why do you keep that — all those coat hangers you don't need?' " Mystery Man felt it needed a second look, that the work might be appreciated for its abstract qualities and we talked for a while about the eggcups. Suddenly, Marcia suggested she could make an installation with old 'useless' objects from her grandfather, father, etc and that would have meaning. "There you go!" her anonymous friend said.

Many thanks to Smalls - Murray for sharing The Pocillum, Judith Adler for the photo and everyone who took time to talk.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Another wonderfully engaging afternoon conducting the interactive session on Saturday. Again I worked mostly with smaller groups, 2s and 3s, families, and the ages ranged from 5 to retirees, so a wide range of ideas was canvassed! Using last week’s dice throwing game as a starting point for exploration of the value of objects and how that is decided proved rich territory for discussion at a personal level – and beyond – of some of the exhibition’s themes.

Themes that emerged from the activities included: functional creativity (thank you Keith for sharing the ideas from your thesis) as opposed to straightforward “artistic” creativity; the Lost Gardens of Heligon in Cornwall; the value of the utilitarian versus the aesthetic and the meeting grounds between the two; what things in a person’s life are irreplaceable – this was particularly interesting when related to Takahashi’s art, as people were intrigued as to how the larger installations were stored for future display, and if they exist only in photos and notes to be recreated then what is it that the artist has created, and where does its value lie?

Jude and Ahmed (who works in sculptural collage) were very interested in the difference between the interactive activities and the more formal curatorial notes. Ahmed wanted to know who came up with this interactive approach, “because it’s fantastic, a fantastic way of bridging the work” and said it had made him think differently about the exhibition – so well done, interactive team (and thank you Ahmed)!

Final quotable quotes of the afternoon came from Christopher (7) - “I thought it was weird but imaginative”; Isabel (12) who said “from a distance it just looks like junk but when you get up close you can see how carefully it’s all been placed”; Will (5) who said it was “all great”, Jonathan (10) who said of Clockwork, “It doesn’t look like art but it feels like art.” Which was a brilliant summing up to a thoroughly engaging afternoon. Thanks to all who took time out to talk to me.