I have a confession to make, I have a really unappealing habit, I’m trying to control it, but a lot of the time it gets the better of me.
This is my problem- I see things on the ground & have an uncontrollable urge to pick them up…
Sometimes they’re beautiful natural objects, leaf skeletons, a soft shaped piece of turquoise glass smoothed by the ocean or a newly escaped polished conker. Occasionally, the ‘treasures’ are not what they first appear & are hastily dropped to the ground again. My pockets are full of these impulse acquisitions, which often crumble to nothing before reaching my studio. For those that do survive the hazardous journey, superior accommodation awaits.
After a visit to the Natural History Museum in Oxford, I had this idea that I wanted to have a museum of my very own. My other favourite museum in Oxford is the Pitt Rivers Museum. One of the reasons that I love it so much is the eccentric classification system; exhibits are grouped by type, rather than the usual way, by geographical or cultural area
However, my museum is much smaller, being housed in a couple of glass lidded tea boxes that I purchased specially for this purpose. I have, however, contrived my own classification system.
The Pitt Rivers Museum has heavy drawers that can be pulled open by their brass handles to reveal hidden treasures. Some of these items are not that pleasant; I am thinking here of the ‘sympathic magic’ section. One item is a bull’s heart, pierced with iron nails & found in a chimney in the New Forest, Dorset. None of my treasures are, thankfully, quite as nasty as that.
What links these objects, that they are similar shapes, natural objects or similar colours? I think it’s nearly all of these things and yet, not quite any of them.
I have lined the compartments with scrunched up tissue paper & plan to make a label for each, written in scratchy handwriting, detailing the contents.
List of contents left to right.
Top row: Bees extracted from the dining room chimney which contained a nest, coral gifted by an elderly relative, an unindentified fruit (collected from a path in a French forest)
Middle row: Ammonite bought from Natural History museum, Oxford, devil’s toenail I dug up in my garden, black beetle, honey bee & section of exquisitely coloured butterfly wing
Bottom row: Owl feather (down) found on a walk by the river Severn, piece of broken pink pressed glass dessert bowl (echoing the shape of the ammonite), foil wrapper that once held a chocolate ammonite, which my daughter gave me as a present from Lyme Regis.
N.B. No creatures were harmed in the assemblage of this museum