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Fascinating Hobbies

July 26, 2010 Have a rummage 3 Comments

Fascinating Hobbies, Razor Blade Packets

Fascinating Hobbies

This collecting lark is hard to shake off once you have the bug. We tried to clear out the coal hole and get rid of some of our collection the other day…it wasn’t easy and we just packed it all back in neatly. Then Michael bought a huge carrier bag of these old cigarrette cards from the boot sale on Sunday and this card was amongst them.

“Collectors try to get as many different makes as possible and as many different variations of prices per blade printed in the design.”

I don’t think I come into that catergory, I never get obscessed with getting all the set of anything, but I can see why people do. I do have a large selection of different razor blade packets though, as the designs are beautiful.


“An Infinity of Things” by Frances Larson

June 13, 2010 Artist Responses Comments Off on “An Infinity of Things” by Frances Larson

Simple tablet dispenser from the A1 Scrap Metal collection

As I said in an earlier posting, this project has taken us down new lanes I didn’t expect to go down. One being an interest in the people who collected objects in the past who have created our museums. We are gradually finding out more about how many places Mary Greg donated her collections and that is one area I would really like to know more about. Amanda Ravetz suggested a wonderful book to me called “An Infinity of Things” (How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World) by Frances Larson, which is about another prolific collector (some of Sir Henry’s collections were catalogued by weight because there was so much of it). I spent many happy hours in the Wellcome Collection ,which was above the Science Museum in London, when I was a student. Much of my early work was influenced by the strange medical equipment in there.

One chapter is called “HEREWITH PLEASE FIND THREE ROLLS OF CHOCOLATE FOIL” the foil was from sweet wrappers which he used them to demonstrate possible tablet shapes. His collecting often informed the designs he used in his pharmaceutical business. I use collections in the same way except on a much much smaller scale.

Ghosts in the attic: Platt Hall

Ghosts in the attic: Platt Hall
Shoes including two pairs from Mary's collection

Box of shoes at Platt Hall

Today I saw some of Mary’s collection of costume, textiles and shoes for the first time.  It felt so ghostly: up in the attic at Platt Hall surrounded with boxes and boxes of clothes which were once full of life, real people, playing children, sleeping babies.  But now they are laid to rest in boxes, no more life, just memories that we can only guess at.  Dead.  But it was one of the most evocative days I’ve spent rummaging about.  Was the bonnet one that Mary herself had worn?  Did she really wear the beautiful dresses, the ivy leaf embroidered wedding dress?  Perhaps not, but it really felt like she was in that collection.  A fabulous collection of shoes, both highly decorative (not Mary Greg 1922) but also the humble plain leather children’s shoes (very definitely Mary), with cracks and crevices where someone’s tiny feet moved as they walked, danced, played.
Wedding dress with embroidered ivy leaves

Wedding dress with embroidered ivy leaves

And so many ideas about how we might exhibit some of these things in this amazing space (especially following our visit to Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace, and the Concise Dictionary of Dress at Blythe House).  A giant dolls’ house in itself…  Where will these thoughts take us?  We shared some interesting comments with Miles too about whether Mary’s collection only came into the gallery because of a desire to have the ‘grander, more important’ ceramics collection of her husband.  Miles always refers to Mary as ‘Mrs Greg’.  I like that.  I wonder if there is a difference in the generalised contrast between the ‘scientific’ collecting of men (e.g. the costumes of Mr Cunnington who apparently could have been a ceramics collector had ceramics been more affordable – instead he looked to something affordable and other – e.g. costume – that he could catalogue, collect specimens and almost finalise) and that of women – Mary who collected what she loved because it was beautifully crafted, domestic, just a lovely thing that she wanted to share with others, particularly children.

So many ideas.  So much that we still haven’t seen.

In the meantime, look here on Flickr for further pictures I took today…