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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The Fantasy of Escape

Enid: You know what my number one fantasy used to be?

Seymour: What?

Enid: I used to think about one day, just not telling anyone, and going off to some random place. And I’d just… disappear. And they’d never see me again. Did you ever think about stuff like that?

Seymour: I guess I probably did when I was your age.

Enid: You know what we should do? We should just get in your car right now, and just drive off. Just find some totally new place and start a whole new life. Fuck everybody.

19.34 AMEscaping may not be the answer to feeling better, but it’ll always be the ultimate dream. It’s the exciting imagining of running away to the unknown. To a place that you may not even know the name of, just a vague conjuring of space that you could sink away into, leaving strained thoughts and problems crumbling into fragments of air that you can breath once again.

I think for the most part people always want to runaway from things. From routine. From themselves. Even if the running away is just in small ways. That’s what change is all about, right?

I’ve spent the most part of the past few years of my life feeling scared shitless about what I’m doing and who I am. Throughout that entire time the thought of disappearing to other countries, where I could become a stranger and stumble into new opportunities in the process has kept me going. I try not to rely too much on these fantasies, though whenever I feel myself slipping away I catch a hold of them once again and clutch them as tight as I can. The knowledge that they’re a possibility can be comfort enough. 

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 🙂

Bedrooms

Ok, so this post might be a bit of a rushed one, as I’m feeling guilty about not posting anything lately and at the same time am feeling ill and have just gotten back from seeing Gravity at the cinema (which was totally awesome!)

So! This post is about bedrooms. Well, sort of. It’s mainly about my bedroom if I’m honest. My bedroom is my cave. I spend far more time hiding in here than I should, and for that reason I’ve filled it with things that make me happy. I especially love tacky decorations or random bric a brac from charity shops. Sometimes I look around my room and feel like it looks as though it belongs to a ten year old. And I’m ok with that.

Bedrooms are important too, if you think about it. When you’re growing up it’s your own space that you can shut yourself away in and use to express yourself. I’ve always been kind of fascinated by fictional characters bedrooms for this reason too, as I feel like it’s usually very much a part of them, and sometimes memorable for that reason.

My favourite character room has to be Enid’s from Ghost World. I just want everything she has.

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Next up is a famous one: Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and The City. It’s a classic.  carrie_bedroom_thumb

Alex’s bedroom from a Clockwork Orange. The design in this movie is so unique, colourful, disconcerting and iconic. I’m not sure I’d want to sleep there, but it is very cool looking.

cwo-nightHey Arnold’s room! I grew up wishing I had a glass roof the same so that I could stare up at the night sky when in bed. I still wish I had that roof.

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While my room is in no way as cool as the above, I am pretty proud of it. Since moving back from university I’ve managed to sort through a lot of the old junk I had in here and fill it instead with new, awesome junk! Here some of it is.

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Raven lights that were bought at Halloween. I love anything associated with being spooky, Edgar Allan Poe and just fairy lights in general. I hung these above my Vincent Price themed Abertoir festival poster too, which I thought was quite fitting.

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A lucky waving cat, yo! I got this the other day, just cause. I love it, but the only frustrating thing is how noisy it is! I’d never noticed before until I tried to sleep and couldn’t escape its loud ticking as its arm swings back and fourth. Hopefully it’ll just bring me a load of luck. I think I can get over this issue then.

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Sorry about the lighting on this picture. I was being lazy and just took it quickly with my phone. This is a little holographic old school map I got in a charity shop, and then put in a charity shop frame, which I also decided to customise. Kinda regret doing that. I have no idea what possessed me to add those random swirls.

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A little green balloon made from Venetian glass. I got this when I was in Venice last February, and man was it stressful trying to get it home without breaking it! Managed though, and thank god. It’s awesome.

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I bought this quite recently actually. There’s this shop on Etsy that sells really cute banners that are inspired by vintage images. This one has images of old valentines cards and they’re just adorable.

Lastly: this magnificent seal lamp.

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So that’s it for tonight folks. I have a lot more shizzle up in here, trust me, but like I said, I’m not feeling so great today and haven’t had a chance to take many good pictures of it all. Hopefully this gives you an idea of the kind of silly things I like to collect. What are your bedrooms/apartments/homes like? Do you have any especially unusual things that have interesting stories behind them?

Night all!