Is a collection something you work at, or something that just happens as a result of your interests, affections, inheritances, or personal quirks? I think it can be any of these things or a combination thereof and I suspect there are other reasons that have simply not occurred to me. What about collections where you have lost all interest in collecting further, but still appreciate what you have accumulated? What about the collection you have inherited from your Mom or great aunt – something you are not remotely interested in but which for you hold a great fondness because of the previous owner?
I started reading a book once about people who collect, I thought I might find some insights about myself. By the end of Chapter One I had rejected the premise that I had had a deprived childhood, that I was wreaking revenge on one of my parents for God-knows-what, or that I needed psychiatric help. While these may all apply to a greater or lesser degree to the type of hoarder which reality TV has recently embraced, I am sure there are a great many collectors who quite simply collect because they are drawn, for whatever reason, to a certain type of object.
Yes, we sometimes overspend on our collections (I gather by now you have figured out I am a collector). Personally I confess to a penchant for things that are numbered – things which have a finite number and a list I can gleefully check off as my collection grows.
When I was a very little girl my mother started a collection for me of little shoes – china, glass, etc. I don’t know why she didn’t just collect them herself, but I expect she had been raised to think there was something wrong in spending money on something so patently useless, so in classic parental self-deceit she started buying me shoes. In the interest of complete disclosure, I confess to starting a collection of small heart boxes for my daughter. I have absolutely no idea what possessed me. My daughter never actually collected heart boxes on her own and I never actually collected shoes. But after disposing of the majority of the collection when I was in my forties, I now have a small collection of shoes which I treasure.
|An undusted collection of citrus juicers|
My house is afflicted with a lot of collections, some of which I began determinedly and with much enthusiasm. Some just seemed to happen…they happen like this: you see (or are given) something which pleases you immensely. You set it out where you can enjoy it. One day you are walking through a shop and you see something similar which pleases you as much as the original, so you buy it. Here is where it gets a little tricky. Everyone knows that two items do not display as artistically as three so it is just a matter of time until you find the third and voila! you have a collection. Pretty soon people notice you seem to have a fondness for Minnie Mouse, or Brown Betty teapots, or glass paperweights and come your next birthday you realize you couldn’t stop this collection if you wanted to.
|Cornishware - named after the blue skies and white cob houses of Cornwall|
I expect to share most of my collections with you at some point – with information, photos, and rationalizations. But it has to be said here and now that if you think collections are just “clutter” you may find it disturbing. I refer you to a blog I have been following for most of this year: A Collection a Day, 2010 by artist Lisa Congdon. I see a lot of items I grew up with, and quite a few that sit in some of my collections.
|This is my studio bathroom wall inspired by Lisa Congdon|
We won’t talk about the numbered, listed thing – that might actually require a few visits with a shrink. But I promise, I have no collections of plastic margerine tubs or old newspapers...and I can still walk anywhere I want to.