In the lead up to the 2012 Games, Art on the Underground delivered a series of contemporary art commissions in Stratford that had individuals and communities at their heart.
Alan Kane created The Stratford Hoard – it is estimated that one in four adults in the developed world could be considered to be collectors or to have a collection. 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. 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 revealed infinite relationships between individual objects. A fascinating cache of collections from people who live nearby or have an association with the station were shown at Stratford station.
The project consisted of 3 exhibitions:
Postcards, sugar sachets
Football Boots, masking tape, wind-up toys
Electric guitars and Beatles Memorabilia
Exhibition 1 took place between July and October 2008 and contained 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
Martin Kingdom – Picture Postcards
Phillip Mernick – The Shadwell Forgeries
Rhys Evans – Religious Leaflets
Susan Langford, Manorware
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.
Tyler Harrington, 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.
Elizabeth Parker, 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.
Kacey Young, Souvenir Teaspoons
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.
Martin Kingdom, Picture Postcards
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.
Phillip Mernick, 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 Evans, Religious leaflets
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.
Exhibition 2 took place between October 2008 and January 2009 and contains collections from the following people:
- Nathan and Debbi Lewis-Gordon: Wind-up toys
- Lyn Hilaire – Black Dolls
- Errol Lawrence (aka Mansfield Hotspur): Vintage football boots
- Heather McDonough: Look what the cat dragged in
- Jack Harrison: Michael Jackson Bad Albums
- Jack Harrison: Tape
- Jack Harrison: 52 card pick up
- Paolo (IDNo. 37676) – Pokémon
Nathan and Debbi Lewis-Gordon, Wind-up toys
‘‘Our collection was born some 20 years ago and has since grown to incorporate wind-up toys made from plastic, metal, wood and fabric. ’’We love the diversity and quirkiness of these objects. The idea that somebody could invent and manufacture some of the more bizarre wind-ups is interesting in itself. ‘We like to arrange and re-arrange our collection for pleasure, and sometimes to illustrate a thought we may be having at the time. Above all, we think they are amusing and harmless and we enjoy collecting and the art of arrangement.’’
Lyn Hilaire, Black Dolls
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.
Lyn’s full collection will be featured in Exhibition 2 due to be opened on Saturday 23 August.
Errol Lawrence (aka Mansfield Hotspur): Vintage football boots
‘Sportswear is constantly evolving in terms of design, look and feel. These samples from an eclectic collection of vintage football boots illustrate the way in which the most important tool of the footballer’s trade developed over the course of the last century, reflecting social and industrial trends and the expansion of the world’s most popular sport. ‘The display maps the journey from the heavy, monolithic, ankle-length boots of the early twentieth century, to the sleek, low-cut, avowedly modish pairs of the modern era. The different styles are an indication of the progressive modernisation of sportswear manufacturing and marketing – and evidence of the shift from local industry to dominant global brands.’
Heather McDonough: Look what the cat dragged in, Wind-up toys
Heather McDonough is a photographer with two collections here, both of which were collected for her.
The collection on the left is a collection of objects that her son Dexter (then 6) collected for his mummy because he thought they would be interesting for her to photograph. The other was collected for Heather by her two cats – Lottie and Dot – who, during her pregnancy with Dexter, mysteriously started bringing objects into the house and leaving them as gifts for her, and then just as mysteriously stopped this activity when he was born. The collection is not complete as some of the things were extremely perishable, some were returned to their rightful owners, and many of the balls have since been played with and lost.
Jack Harrison, Michael Jackson Bad Album
Jack says that Michael Jackson’s Bad album is his favourite album cover of all time. His first one was given to him by his father and prompted him to start looking for others in charity shops; before he knew it he had 12. For a while Jack displayed them stacked on book shelves at home – on top of one another in a neat pile – but recently he hasn’t shown them at all. The displays of various collections only last a short time as his interest shifts from one to another. Jack has ceased to collect the album covers as he believes the collection has been completed with the addition of a t-shirt.
Jack Harrison, Tap
This collection started when Jack was working on film sets as an assistant cameraman during his 20s. After discovering that gaffer tape was a useful item to have on set, he soon found he had several and began collecting them in earnest. His sister gave him some skeleton tape and his next step was to start stacking them up in an attempt to reach the ceiling. Failing to do so, the tapes found their home on Jack’s book shelves, alongside his collection of Michael Jackson albums.
Jack Harrison, 52 card pick up
The first card Jack picked up was Vietnamese. This unusually shaped card sparked his interest and he began a game of 52 card pick-up during his travels, as well as back at home in the UK. Jack’s friend Tim also contributed to the collection as and when he saw cards on the pavement. According to Jack, Cambodia is a great place to pick up cards because Cambodians play out in the street and when a game is lost the cards are thrown to the ground. One of Jack’s rules in collecting is to only pick one if several are found in one spot, otherwise it’s too easy. ‘If collecting becomes too easy, or too much too soon, then there’s not much fun left.’
Paolo (IDNo. 37676), Pokémon
Through playing, trading and attending special promotional events, this local librarian has managed the incredible feat of collecting all 493 of the fictional monster species available in the Nintendo Pokémon games. It has taken him hundreds of hours to complete his current collection, which involved having to evolve, train and breed the creatures that inhabit this extremely popular digital world.
Electric guitars and Beatles Memorabilia
01 Feb – 31 May 09
Pete Nash: Beatles Memorabilia
For nearly 25 years Pete Nash has been collecting almost anything that has a connection to the Beatles. In that time he has amassed many thousands of objects produced by or concerned with the band.
His collection and subsequent knowledge of the Beatles is so extensive that he has become widely regarded as a leading authority on Beatles memorabilia and an expert on worldwide Beatles releases.
Pete is a ‘second generation’ Beatles Fan (since 1975), former staff writer for The Beatles Book Monthly, he is editor of the British Beatles Fan Club magazine and contributor to magazines such as Record Collector, Mojo, Q, NME and various music journals, as well as contributing to The Beatles Anthology book and film.
For information on the British Beatles Fan Club see www.britishbeatlesfanclub.co.uk
Simon Murphy: Guitars and effects pedals
“People who have more than a few guitars are generally divided up into collectors and players. Collectors usually place great importance on condition and originality, and some even deliberately avoid playing their instruments to minimise wear and tear.
I’m a player – I have a lot of guitars, but play all of them, and swap parts around and tinker. I like to personalise them. My first guitar in 1980 had no pickups or wiring, so right from the start I’ve been chopping and changing.
For about 10 years I had one guitar. It’s heavy. By the early ’90s I was playing in bands more, lugging equipment around, and needed something lighter. I started looking in markets and junk shops for cheap guitars. I found three or four at this time, fixed them up and was happy.
The internet opened things up, and in the last decade I’ve bought several more on e-Bay, plus a couple of donations from friends. I have 15 guitars now, but they come and go. I’ll be selling at least one this year.
I’ve built my own guitars from parts and some basic electronic instruments also. I’m not a very technical person by nature, but I learned how to do it by experimenting. I’m in my 40s now, but my attitudes are still informed by the DIY/Punk ethic of the 1970s.”
“I made all the effects pedals on display myself, starting in 2003. So they are not a collection in the usual sense, they are utilitarian objects for making guitars sound different.
Some are recreations of rare fuzz pedals or hobby magazine projects from the mid 1960s, and others are newer designs. The circuits are drawn up and shared on the internet, alongside discussions of which are the best transistors etc for each circuit.
I also make them up – most of the parts I can buy locally. In some respects I do admit they are mostly quite similar, but if you listen closely the sounds they produce are very varied.”