I love collections and people that collect. I like to talk about either my own collections or other people’s. I collect funny quotes and I collect sketches of people. I have collected images of other people’s mantlepieces and bedside tables. I also collect books, clothes and boots and things found in books.
The Barbarian in London has decided to look at artists who collect. Artists have always made great and eccentric collectors. They collect for inspiration. Collecting is part of human nature. But some might argue that the desire to collect sits on the edge of madness. Many artists are on the edge of madness (me included).
The exhibition, which is going to run from February to May next year, is called Magnificent Obsessions. It includes collections of Andy Warhol’s biscuit jars, Sir Peter Blake’s masks, Dr Larka’s album covers, and Sir Peter Blake’s elephants.
Collecting, it has been argued, is an emotional process. Through collecting we connect with our childhoods and our pasts. Just as infants longed to keep hold of the breast, as adults we long to keep hold of our things. It is a security blanket. Collecting could also be viewed as a way to control an aspect of life whereas elsewhere we lack control. We might not have much control overall but we can control our collections. Freud connected collecting with toilet issues. The collector is trying to regain control of his or her bowels, something lost in childhood. An alternative theory is that we collect because it is innate to human nature to collect (berries as cavemen, stamps as modern man).
Whatever the reason is, we get pleasure in looking at, arranging, admiring and showing off our collections. Artists, as well as non-artists, love to collect and for me as an artist it would be interesting to peek at the collections of those that like to create.
I might have to schedule in a trip to London in the Spring.
‘Barbican puts artists’ personal collections on show, 17 September 2014, BBC News website. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-29243927 [last accessed 18 September 2014]
Psychology of collecting on wikipedia. Available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_collecting [last accessed 18 September 2014]