As well as being a passionate collector, Mary was also passionate about making things (including drawings as her nature diaries reveal). This she saw as a way of making a noble contribution to education and learning. There are numerous references throughout the letters of her making activity and a number of objects made by her hand are evidenced in the collection. Many of these came to light through information contained in the letters (further proof of how valuable these letters have been to our understanding of Mary and her bygones). On November 6th, 1934 in her letter to William Batho she mentions a firescreen
….with embroidery which I worked on one side and a sampler on the other…
After reading of this in the letters we searched for the firescreen in the collection. And there it is, sitting on a shelf wrapped in bubble wrap. Peeking beneath the plastic, we could just make out her embroidered initials making claim to her handiwork! For a moment it was as if Mary was there in the room with us! The real value of the hand crafted object is that it stands just one degree separation from it’s maker.
Further proof of her making activity is shown in a letter dated April 27th, 1925 she writes
….then there are three shops! Which I am responsible for and which with help from 2 or 3 have been very much my work during the dark, dull days
She would readily involve others in the making of things too!
Mrs Greg…is getting on with the furniture of the dolls house and the bed in particular. She wanted to know if you could get four tops made for the posts of the bed like the one I am sending.
She was particularly keen that her collection would inspire others to make things. In a letter dated May 3rd, 1934 she writes
I should like to think that some of those who enjoy the models would make things which in the future would be equally interesting, while at the same time would give them happy enjoyment and work! This applies to the women too!
How delighted she would be at the emerging and growing number of artist responses to her collection today. These contemporary responses provide not only new interpretation and meaning for this historic collection but at the same time contribute a new collection of objects for future generations to interpret and respond to. Sharon