Stuff & things.

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Last month I went to see an exhibition at the Barbican Centre called, “Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector”. Each room was filled with bits and pieces, all so strange looking within the blank spaces. I felt as though I’d walked into a locked away part of each artist’s brain, the odd details of their worlds floating aimlessly in front of me.

As I let my eye’s dart from the dusty old witch puppet to vintage pinball machine to large horse statue in Hanne Darboven’s collection, it made my heart sore. I felt like if I could just stare at each object for long enough, I might understand all the mysteries behind it: Where had it come from? What era? What was it about that old Turkish shoe that Peter Blake loved? Would Andy Warhol and I have been friends because of our similar taste in cookie jars?

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…Then you’re brought back to reality. It’s just a thing. There’s no answers or connections to be found within the ceramic structures of a mouse figurine, or the fragile wooden frame of an old chair. It’s breakable. Disposable. Nothing, right?

But I can’t follow that argument through, because I too collect things. When I was younger it was car models and limited edition chocolate bars, while nowadays it’s patterned jumpers, Babycham merchandise and vintage figurines. These are more than just things to me. They’re the narratives people have given them, and will continue to give them. They’re the still portals to different minds and different times. They’re something to focus on in the midst of worry, stress and sadness, enabling you to curate and organise your own little microcosmic worlds.

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When I think about collecting, I also think of one of my favourite films, Ghost World, in which there is a character called Seymour. Struggling to make connections with other people, he’s turned to collecting objects from the past as a way to connect with life instead. In his case, he’s not happy. It’s something that’s completely taken over his life, creating even more of a barrier between him and others.

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One of the most interesting things I read at the Barbican's exhibition was that Andy Warhol's cookie jars had been mostly found in the bags he'd bought them in, sitting in the corners of his apartment untouched. This made me think about the negative side to it too; about the ways we all try to fill our lives with meaning through stuff, and how when that stuff becomes destructive to your life it's a trait that has to go.

And so maybe I'm romanticising collections when they're just clutter, or a distraction from facing life, but I can't give up the argument completely. Because whenever someone laughs at the ridiculous amount of ornaments I have or looks despondent and weirded out by it all, I do get a little concerned, but then snap myself out of it. Because you have to be confident in your choices and trust yourself. And because everyone needs to find the things that make them happy and different, and for me that's holding still these fragments of life that intrigue me.

I like to think the things I own aren't all just things, but will rather one day be a way for others to understand a little part of me, as distant and abstract as they may seem in the larger scheme of things.

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A little spring in autumn

It’s been a while since I’ve done a charity shop post on here and seeing as I’m having a very lazy Sunday (with a Chinese takeaway on the way and pj bottoms already on) it seems like the perfect time for an update.

Over the last few months I’ve found a lot of treasures here and there, though mostly at car boot sales throughout the summer. Now that the colder weather’s set in and car boot season is over, I’m back to popping into the charity shops when I can for a quick browse. I’ll be moving from my dad’s house further into London next month too, so am making the most of my local haunts and on the lookout for any cute home wares while I’m at it!

Yesterday was a cold, rainy, errand running day (not the most exciting of Saturdays!) The positive was that I found two cute hand knitted blankets, a pastel pink cardigan, vintage floral dress and little rabbit figurine. I feel like the below pictured purchases are especially spring themed, but work also as cosy items to brighten up these darker months.

IMG_0315-1.PNGI collect kitschy ceramics so was ecstatic when I found this little one at the bottom of a bargain box for 50p!IMG_0310-1.JPGI’m in love with pastel colours and the fact this cardigan is cropped too should make it perfect for wearing with high waisted trousers or over long dresses.

IMG_0317-0.PNGI think this dress will be great for wearing to work with thick black tights, boots and a chunky cardi. That’s what I love about this sort of style of floral vintage dress, they can be dressed up or down really easily and work perfectly to brighten up winter outfits. I also love how comfortable they are! The one above is a medium but fits fine, with just enough slouch without looking swampy.

So there it is, a quick little charity shop haul. Until the next post, ciao!

Characters

Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. …If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy. – Nikki Giovanni

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Edward Hopper

As a writer the main thing that has always inspired me most is characters. I feel like they can come from anywhere and everywhere, whether that be a stranger you notice in the street, a lyric in a song, a manifestation of an emotion or a random strand of thought that passes through you and makes you see things from a completely different perspective.

Once you have a character, the rest can come together. Their world forms from their loves and hates, from all your wonders about the hundreds of souls that surround you every day but have no meaning, no real connection. And as their stories unravel there’s the chance to feel closer to the world, and to live out a life that is a momentary escape from your own.

I think it’s this love of characters that explains why I love documentaries about people so much. That would probably be my dream job: to interview and document the lives of strangers. Because as boring as it may seem, everyone, whether outwardly strange or not is full of secrets and fascinations. You just have to look closely enough to catch the details.

Last night I watched a TV show about obsessive collectors, which aired on Channel five. This guy was one of them:

This is Barry Kirk, and if you couldn’t guess, he’s obsessed with baked beans. He has a baked bean museum in his house, two baked bean tattoos, an alarm clock that farts when it goes off and most spectacularly, a baked bean super hero costume that allows him to transform into ‘Captain Beany’. Oh! He also has his own website.

Barry Kirk appeared on the show alongside several other collectors, including a gnome fanatic and re-born baby dolls lover. While the extremities of their collections had led to all of them experiencing a certain amount of attention, some preferred this to others. For the Gnome collector and Captain Beany it had become a positive in their lives, turning them into local celebrities. This was a position that allowed them to not only openly share their obsessions with others, but also gave them  some much needed company.

While watching this I felt as though I could make better sense of the eccentrics that live locally to me, like the Wizard man:

SU20505-01I suppose the natural assumption for most is to see someone like the above and think they’re mad, because, I guess, it’s difficult to understand why he might choose to do that everyday of his life. This is a huge generalisation though. I think instead it comes down to something else: loneliness.

There is something inherently lonely in all of us, and how we deal with it depends on who we are as people. While some may choose to be around friends all the time, others might turn to collecting, or dressing up as a wizard and walking around the shops, chatting to strangers.

I also think that it’s this loneliness which makes us so fascinated with other people. Even doing things like watching movies, listening to music, writing stories and generally losing ourselves in the narratives of the world all feel like ways to better connect with distant spirits. Art especially conjures this comforting presence amid the terrifying “what does it all mean?!” questions of being alive.

While we might not relate to everyone, I think there’s something so vital in trying to understand who others are or might be because our characters are what make us so special, whether fictional or real.

As a final note, here is an Interview Project by David Lynch, which I watched a couple of years ago and fell in love with. It seemed appropriate for this post.

I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas and have an even better New Year 🙂

Bric A Brac

One of my favourite past times is going to charity shops and hunting through the bric a brac. I like finding what might seem like pointless junk to others and putting it to use as decoration in my bedroom. Over the past few months especially, I’ve found some great little things such as a 1972 model of Batman, a seal chilling on a block of ice and a glass weight filled with floating clock pieces. I love stuff like this as it’s unusual, makes you wonder where it came from, and is something out of the blue that happens to be just what you’re looking for.

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Iceberg chillin’ seal

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Clock pieces swimming in glass

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Pika Pika money box

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Marble wheel candle holder

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Tree trunk mirror

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1972 Batman doll (bat signal light from Amazon!)