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 Visit to The Cartoon Museum

Today I woke up late, had a quick shower, slipped on my bone leggings and a fluffy jumper, and caught the train into central London. My boyfriend and I were heading off to the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street to meet some friends and amble around the city, drinking a coffee or two. It was all going to be very cultured!

20140111-224723.jpgWhen I was younger I’d spend a fair amount of time looking up cool stuff to do around London, as would my best friend, and whenever either of us spotted anything kind of novel or strange we’d make it a plan for the weekend.

Sometimes we’d find a variety of things and have an entire day dedicated to a schedule of seeing random sites. It was often exhausting, with all the wandering and getting lost just to find a shop warehouse or try something like bubble tea (I have no sense of direction and there was no iphone GPS around to save the day at this point!)

Whenever we got home though it felt like we’d achieved something through finding unique little things that might have slipped under the radar for others. It was a bit like being explorers of quirky places, or something.

I haven’t done as many of these outings over the last few years. mainly because of University, and also because of stressing over other things in life and not finding the time to look up, or even notice the interesting events happening around me. This year I plan on changing that because going for days out to educational or unusual places makes me so happy.

The Cartoon Museum

So, onto the day itself. We arrived at the museum for about 2 o clock. It was a tiny little place surrounded by the delicious aromas of nearby Japanese and Korean eateries. I was craving ramen bad.

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It was £7 to get in, which may seem a bit steep for such a small museum, but it’s worth it. Especially if you’re interested in animation or the history of cartoons. It was also really quiet inside, which made wandering around and taking in everything a lot more relaxed.

20140111-232102.jpgThe art takes up two floors, and this works well as I can sometimes find exhibitions and museums a little overwhelming. Here it felt more manageable, giving you more time to concentrate on the detail of each piece, reading the dialogue of graphic novels and admiring the weirdness of certain comics.

There was also a nice interactive element to the museum, with the chance for kids to make their own comic, which I was pretty jealous of!

My favourite of the things I saw was probably the following:cheeky

Image courtesy of Yersinia pestis on Flickr (as I wasn’t sure if you could take pictures within the main bit of the museum). Seriously though, how incredible is this bum bench thing? I want one.

hugo_tateThis was another one I really liked. It’s Hugo Tate by Nick Abadzis. It made me want to read graphic novels again as I haven’t for a long time.  I especially love the cover of this.

Chai tea and halloumi burgers

20140111-231619.jpgAfter we’d had our fill of cartoons and a healthy browse of the shop, it was off for coffee (or a chai tea and pastry in my case!) We chatted and chilled and then – more food! I’m a big fan of diners and frequent Ed’s Diner quite a lot, but today we went to ‘The Diner’ instead, which is a branch spread around various parts of London (and possibly around other parts of the UK too!)

20140111-232209.jpgEveryone inside was dressed super trendy and there was the smell of good food all around. I ordered the halloumi burger and sweet potato fries, and woah mama was it tasty. There was even avocado and pesto with the halloumi! Basically my dream meal.

Astrology Shop and Adventure Time

20140111-223423.jpgLastly, we went for a wander as the shops were shutting. This astrology shop was nearby and still open. The ambience was totally mellow inside, with healing stones, buddha ornaments, unicorns and even more to my delight – holographic planets! I ended up buying a Saturn magnet and moon postcard, along with the  lunar calendar to the left, which now lets me know handy stuff, like that i’ll have a crescent moon on my birthday. Pretty nifty. 

Of course no day out would be complete without at least one silly purchase, and today that was a surprise Adventure Time figure. I was really hoping to get the glittery Lumpy Space Princess one, but there were only three bags left and the shop was shutting so I had to just grab one. I got Ice King, which ain’t too bad I guess. At least he looks great chilling with my harp seal beanie. I think collecting these might be a thing for me now.

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So that was a brief summary of my Saturday. If you get a chance then I’d definitely recommend a visit to the Cartoon Museum, followed by some diner grub!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend 🙂