LONDON.- In the lead up to the 2012 Games, Art on the Underground are delivering a series of contemporary art commissions in Stratford that have individuals and communities at their heart. Alan Kane has been commissioned to produce a new work for 2008. It is estimated that one in four adults in the developed world could be considered to be collectors or to have a collection of some sort. What people collect is entirely influenced by their individual circumstances and tastes.
Collections can be seen as personal histories or self portraits created through the accumulation of objects. A collection of collections from one area could therefore be considered as a unique image of a particular place at a particular time. The Stratford Hoard extends Alan Kane’s fascination with the process of researching, finding, categorising and displaying a wide range of objects from the valuable to the obscure. Not a collector himself – although he could be described as a collector of collectors! – Kane’s practice as an artist generates complex perceptions of specific places or individuals.
Each collection reveals infinite relationships between individual objects; connections that the audience might add to through their own associations and memories. A fascinating cache of collections from people who live nearby or have an association with the station, will be revealed at Stratford station.
Exhibition 1 contains collections from the following people.
Susan Langford – Manorware
Tyler Harrington - Printed Milk Bottles from the late 20th Century
Elizabeth Parker - Sugar sachets and cubes
Kacey Young - Souvenir Teaspoons
Lyn Hilaire - Black Dolls
Martin Kingdom - Picture Postcards
Phillip Mernick - The Shadwell Forgeries
Rhys Evans - Religious Leaflets
Susan’s first teapot, Eastbourne, came from her grandmother who bought it on her holidays. Susan was six at the time and has now been collecting them for more than 40 years. Her grandmother had an identical one on her kitchen shelf, which Susan also inherited, so there are two Eastbournes - the only duplicates in Susan’s collection.
Susan first bought teapots while on holidays or day trips. The oldest ones have an embossed image, whereas the later ones are transfers. In the 1980s they could no longer be bought new, so junk or charity shops became the place to find them.
Susan’s mum, sister, best friend and her best friend’s mum have been keen contributors to Susan’s collection but she still gets a great thrill on Christmas morning or birthdays when unwrapping a new teapot.
Susan wishes to thank those who have helped with her collection - Doreen and Arthur Langford, Liz Langford, Louise Wardle, Mrs Beryl Wardle and Stephen Davies.
Printed Milk Bottles from the late 20th Century
Displayed inside case 1 of the Stratford Hoard is a selection from approximately one hundred bottles Tyler has collected over the last year. The collection started with a job lot of twenty he found in a milk crate in a second hand shop. He generally collects from jumble sales or car boots, some specialist trading internet sites and auction websites.
The highlight of his young collecting career was a trip to see a fellow enthusiast who has amassed sixteen thousand such bottles in Shropshire. Tyler’s interest comes from an awareness these objects are no longer in use and a general decline in the use of glass bottles and the delivery of milk. His enthusiasm extends to taking photos of milk flats and collecting other milk bottle related ephemera.
Sugar sachets and cubes
These vitrines hold approximately 1000 individually wrapped sugar lumps and portions. Elizabeth began her collection by keeping the sugar from her very first aeroplane journey she made as a child. She flew with Lufthansa to Germany in 1964. She was delighted to be given her own plastic utensils including an individual sachet of sugar. Ever since she has been collecting sachets and cubes from cafes, restaurants, bars, and diners from close to home and around the world.
Some have been collected as sub-sets within the larger collection such as clown faces, McDonald’s and other brand categories etc. She picks them up herself and is also now given them by friends who collect on her behalf on their travels. Her interest is mainly in the graphic variations influenced by different design periods and geographic location but also by personal memory of specific trips.
Similar to Elizabeth Parker, Kacey started his collection of over two hundred teaspoons at the age of 7 while on a family holiday abroad. He describes himself as a “hoarder” with the teaspoons forming what he considers his only “proper” collection. Friends and relatives pick up examples of spoons from their travels also but Kacey estimates he personally has bought two thirds of the spoons.
Kacey now feels he must visit a souvenir shop on every trip he makes and is very particular in which version and how many he buys on each trip. If there is a similar version he will chose which in his view is the “better” and will only purchase one from each place visited. He normally doesn’t display them, even at home, rather his enjoyment comes from viewing them occasionally, reliving or remembering experiences.
The cover and reverse of the information sheet accompanying The Stratford Hoard show some of Lyn Hilaire’s collection of dolls modelled on black children and babies. She started collecting in the1960s when she was looking for toys for her children to play with. Lyn now has over 40 dolls from around the world including Monte Carlo, the West Indies, the USA and Canada.
Presented at Stratford in the 70m Graphic wall, is a selection of Martin’s collection of over 8,000 postcards from the colour printing heyday of the 1960s and 1970s, which he has amassed over the last eight years. Martin is fascinated with the hyper-real pictures of idealised subjects, due to an interest in the diversity and repetition of the images and their saturated colours.
The Shadwell Forgeries
Mernick's second collection on show is of fake antiquities known as “Billy and Charleys” made in Victorian London by William Smith (Billy) and Charles Eaton (Charley). They are based on badges, ampullae’s (holy water vessels) and statues of saints, brought back to London by medieval pilgrims as souvenirs of their travels.
The 'notorious scamps', Billy and Charley, made thousands of objects from a workshop in Rosemary Lane (now Royal Mint Street). Produced in lead and brass, they were based on contemporary illustrations of finds unearthed from the many development sites throughout the rapidly expanding metropolis. Because they had never seen the “real thing” they made them much too big and usually included dates in modern (so called Arabic) numerals that would never have been used in their purported time.
Billy and Charley were riverside labourers and were probably illiterate; but they had the skill to produce articles that fooled many of the most experienced antiquarians of the time. Charley died of consumption in 1870 in Welclose Square, Stepney, aged 35, but we have no record of what happened to Billy.
These forgeries were sold to a new bourgeoisie across England via unwitting antiques dealers and travellers at inns and public places. Because of legal wrangles and limited communications at the time, Billy and Charley were able to continue their very creative scam for many years. Many more of these objects, recorded from museums around the country, together with a detailed history first published (1986) by Robert Halliday in 'The London Archaeologist', can be found at Billy and Charleys
Rhys started his collection when he picked up a leaflet on the Tube for “something to read”. This simple act triggered a compulsion to collect the leaflets that he encounters on a daily basis. Rhys has no particular affiliation with any of the groups represented; his enjoyment of these leaflets is in the way they all represent “higher authorities” – religious, professional, civic – but in a range of very human and different ways.