Thursday, 16 September 2010

Farewell to Tomoko Takahashi

We've said goodbye to Tomoko Takahashi and her Introspective Retrospective. The show has generated some hugely interesting conversations about our relationship to objects, how and why we value things (or not) and the perennial question about the nature of 'art'. That so many people found something to relate to in Tomoko's work indicates that these questions have many answers and touch on some fundamental issues within our culture.

Thanks to everyone who got involved, particularly the collectors who shared their passions at our weekly Collectors' Corner sessions.

Our next exhibition, Myth, Manners & Memory: photograhers of the American South, opens on 1 October.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Final thoughts

Saturday 11th of September was my final time in the gallery and though I didn't manage to rid myself of all the wrapped items from my studio, I did have a sense that I will find it easier to discard things in the future. One visitor said today that he felt Tomoko expressed for him the human need for order. He suggested that we define ourselves by even our basic possessions; they anchor us in some way. When talking about de-cluttering, Anna described the journey from the cupboard to the charity shop as "a difficult terrain". Sarah and Hugh each took a package but while Sarah was keen to find out immediately what lay inside, Hugh was more interested in what he imagined the object to be. He told me he will probably never open it. I like that he intends to keep it on his mantelpiece unopened, using his imagination to turn my junk into his treasure.
Many thanks to everyone who took part in playing games and sharing ideas during the exhibition.

Monday, 13 September 2010


 Visitors to the gallery examine one of Hazel's art deco powder compacts with concealed manicure set.

It was a pleasure to welcome two collectors with very interesting collections to the gallery for the final Collectors Corner.

We were pleased to see some of Harry Lyons' collection of Christopher Dresser products and privileged to be able to listen to a short talk from Harry who is an authority on the designer. Although a contemporary of William Morris and a prolific product designer, Dresser is nowhere near as well known as Morris. Harry has been collecting Dresser products for many years, writing books on the designer and organising exhibitions of his work. He was able to give us an insight into the ethos of affordable design for all behind the designs  and it was great to see not only some of the objects, but also Dresser's drawings for textile designs.

Meanwhile, Hazel Rochelle had been organising her display cases full of 1920s and 30s powder compacts. She showed us some of the beautifully made compacts with their crafted cases which opened to reveal shiny mirrors, traces of rouge, powder puffs and cunningly concealed accessories such as lipstick cartridges, manicure sets and, in one, even a jewelled watch-face. Hazel's husband, Jim gave us a short talk about the history of the compacts. Apart from having his own collection of carved model soldiers, Jim also cleans and maintains Hazel's compacts, and keeps a hand-drawn archive of the collection. He carefully records a detailed description of each compact, including details of their history and where they were acquired and and makes a drawing of each one.

Pages from Jim's hand-drawn archive of Hazel's collection

After the presentations and discussions about these intriguing objects, a visitor mourned the end of Collectors Corner which, he thought, had been a great success. He had experienced his first CC when Dave Valentine brought in his collection of 1980s crisp packets and had been to every session since!