The Gallery interaction session got off to a good start with a talk: Everyone’s a Collector, by
Dr Louise Purbrick – Researcher in material and visual culture and Principal Lecturer in the History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton. A lively and engaged group squeezed in to the interactive area for the exhibition and joined in a discussion around objects and the relationships people form with them, looking at a range of anthropological theories as to the reasons behind the attachments we form with things, and what those attachments signify. A clear distinction was made by most of the participants between objects people actively choose to collect, and objects – as perhaps represented by Takahashi? – that simply accumulate around and within our lives.
This talk was followed up by me with a series of small group interactive activities, using random elements such as rolling of dice to determine the (imagined) fate of the objects participants possess. This opened up some very interesting discussions as people had to decide on – or reveal – a value system where only they could decide what objects have the most value and how that value is determined.
Of particular interest was the area of objects that we simply can’t bring ourselves to throw away, with many people identifying something of their own lives in the seemingly random chaos of some of the exhibits; the sheer volume of stuff that becomes intertwined with a life. My favourite answers in the dice game where from Poppy (aged 3?) whose most valued object was a toy fish called Olivia (pink with purple spots) – and from Heloise, who although able by the rules of the game to choose three things of most value concluded the session by saying that she would choose to let everything go. Very Zen, and apposite with regards the exhibition, I felt.