Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Cabinet of Curiosities

Last week I came across OIOI, an art blog that is currently inviting submissions to an ongoing project called "Cabinet of Curiosities - Portrait Gallery."  I read the brief, really enjoyed the selections that had been presented so far, and had to have a go myself.

The basic idea is to select nine objects that mean something to you and photograph them.  These 'portraits' are shown without captions, presumably to allow the viewer to conjure up their own stories, impressions and connections.  But apparently its ok to offer a bit more detail on your own blog or website.  So I will.

My personal criteria for selection was simply that the objects had to be near to hand, which immediately says something about their position in the hierarchy of my possessions, and could fit onto the coffee table I was using as my neutral background.  I chose quickly, without much thought or deliberation.

Please view the beautifully minimal presentation on OIOI first, and then, if you want to know a little more, there's a few details below.

My curiosities

Watch fob with a photograph of my grandfather as a little boy.  On the reverse is a photograph of his father.

Marks & Spencer card of bells - these look pretty old (1910s possibly?) and quite probably did cost a penny.  Its nice to think that tinkling bells were considered "Household Necessities."

La Brise celluloid folding fan - you pump the handle to make it spin.  A marvellous little gadget that works surprisingly well.

Co-op delivery man's money bag, used by a food delivery man in St Helens, Lancashire during the Second World War.  It has his number disc and a whistle on a chain.  It also still had little paper cash bags inside.

Promotional pencil.  A good, honest, straight-forward slogan.

Polish wooden peg doll - I like that she is rather sturdy, sensibly dressed and credibly a young girl.  She can stand up on her own, with those large flat feet, unlike the attenuated, cartoonish Barbie with tiny high heels.  This doll has been my buddy icon on Flickr for a good few years so I must relate to her at some deep level!  I also remember having a very similar wooden doll made by Galt Toys when I was little, so there you are . . .

Necklace worn by the female impersonator Jimmy Slater.  In his later years he was a well-respected pantomime dame and I can imagine that this necklace, with its exaggerated scale (the cream beads are the size of gobstoppers), would have been worn for his roles as Widow Twankey or one of the Ugly Sisters.

 Carved bone binoculars - a souvenir of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.  One lens has a Stanhope with portraits of her in 1837 and 1897, the other has "The principal royal residences": Osborne, Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Kensington Palace.  The scale of this is impressive too - about 2 cm across at its widest point.  Incredible, miniaturised technology employed to make what is basically a novelty charm.

Set of speckled bakelite clips - possibly for hanging photographic prints to dry?  Their appeal seems quite obvious to me!

Quite what these nine objects say about me I'll leave you to decide.  This was such fun to do and I'm very pleased that Vincent, the author of OIOI, decided this collection was worthy of featuring on his blog.

Why not have a go yourself?  Here's the instructions again, in case you missed them at the top.


Joules said...

You win the prize, hands down! You have the ultimate coolest stuff around.

TinTrunk said...

That's such a lovely compliment, thank you!

It was a really interesting exercise to do although, like I said, I tried not to think too hard about it to avoid the danger of it being overly contrived or show-offy. Those things really did choose themselves. Certainly there's bound to be a strong element of self-presentation there but its probably quite revealing too.

You've got to have a bash at this!

Lizzie said...

I've actually been thinking about this, and it is devilishly hard! I love your list, especially with the added commentary.

TinTrunk said...

Thanks Lizzie!

It really helped that I did it so fast, otherwise I'd probably still be agonising about it now! And I honestly didn't think about how the things might represent me, but just tried to make the selection varied.

I could do it all again and pick nine quite different things that might convey a totally different impression! Or maybe they wouldn't, I'm not sure. That's what's interesting about it - how identity and meaning are bound up in the objects we surround ourselves with.

I'd love to see your selection!