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July 22, 2010 Hidden Stories 2 Comments

Chad Valley Savings Tin, 1960s

Maybe there’s something in the air, maybe it’s just serendipity. This morning, enjoying the freedom of the first day of a holiday break, I finally found time to follow a link to the blog 0101. Written by Principal Manager of Collection Management at Manchester Art Gallery, Vincent Kelly, the blog documents aspects of his practice as an artist. Vince’s most recent post, A Cabinet Of Curiosities, includes a beautifully photographed assortment of objects that he has collected over his lifetime.

We spend time with people and get to know them through their actions and behaviours, their dress, their voice, the stories they tell, and we carry this loosely forged sense of them with us as an incomplete but passable cipher for their identity. And then, often without warning, we catch sight of a new, previously unknown to us, aspect of their character that enriches our loosely sketched portraits. So it is with Vince’s collection. What connection is there between the 1950s Swedish carpet needle and the 1960s Sindy & Paul go to the Discotheque knitting pattern? I wonder did Vince go to the Electric Chair to hear Maurice Fulton in 1997, and if he did, what memories does he have of it now? I wonder too if the 1953/54 Northumbria District Junior League Winners Medal belonged to a relative or did Vince find it whilst puddling about in his garden as a child.

This collection of wonderful but disparate objects, like Mary’s, forms a gateway into story making, the stories we make in response to them and the stories the collector, openly, or in ignorance, weaves about themselves. Who of us, as Chris notes in his wonderful post The Wicker Basket, knows why we collect what we collect. But one thing is clear, it is the very materiality of stuff, stuff which accrues the marks and dirt of time, the grease and snuff of human touch, that connects us with our existence and the existence of others in a palpable and grounded way. Will we be able to feel the same way about our mp3s and digital videos and photographs when, in some distant future we revisit what we have collected around us, as we do about the Super Eight cine film or the Pinky and Perky 7″ Record? We’ll surely find value in the technological carriers of the information, the PCs, the iPhones, the external hard drives and digital cameras, but what of the immaterial zeros and ones, the bits, the bytes, what will feel about them, what stories will they weave?

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Hazel Jones says:

    you should put your name at the bottom Martin..I had to find out who wrote this…
    Great posting though.

  2. Alex says:

    Another side to Vince!

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