Collecting ideas

A quieter Saturday than some of the previous ones, in part due – apparently – to the Airbourne show at Eastbourne, and in part due to the sun coming out as the afternoon went on – by late afternoon the view outside was irresistible, and most people headed outside to enjoy the return of our summer. Prior to that though it was another great session, with a wide range of people exploring the value of objects, in relation to the art on display, to their own lives, and in relation to ideas. Today’s focus was on collecting words, descriptions and ideas, and highlighted a range of reactions to the work. One lady spoke of her “painful” response to Clockwork, as it spoke very directly to her of her personal circumstances, of the chaos that her disability often caused in her life and the way it ate so much time out of her life. I was struck by how moving she found the work, and the levels of interpretation this exhibtion can sustain. Another group – this time young archeologists – referred to the obvious archeological aspect of the pieces – the ways Takahashi shapes a story out of what is discarded or considered “throwaway”, but that those stories are to be excavated, they are found within the layers of debris. Using play to identify what “stuff’ is of value in people’s lives has been illuminating, as has been the ways in which people decide where the value of the exhibits lies. One gent came striding through mid-way through the afternoon in search of the crisp packet collection, which is actually showing tomorrow (Sunday) but due to an error in the paper had been advertised for today also. He was full of purpose as he strode in and I was struck by the lovely idea of a collection of crisp packets generating such a physical response. Objects do indeed have great power, symbolic and otherwise, and the value and meaning in them is endlessly open to interpretation and utterly subjective. In our activities today some people’s most valuable object was their Bible, for others it was an inexpensive brooch, or a little china bluebird, or Granny’s biscuit barrel – what other people would dimiss as junk. The most potent art it would seem in this exhibition has been the power to make people examine their own relationships to the objects that make up the literal and metaphorical “stuff’ of their lives.

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