Collecting as an Art Form

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as CollectorI’ll admit it … I collect:

  • cane trays (the sort made in occupational therapy classes),
  • stones (but they have to be white and smooth),
  • fabric of every colour and texture,
  • aprons,
  • cow designed themed china,
  • retro plates,
  • lace,
  • children’s books,
  • and Hanmer-Ware Pottery.

I have had to make a room in my house for my “stuff” and it gives me endless amounts of satisfaction to go and look at it all, marvel at the variety and plan how one day I will actually put it into some semblance of order.

For some this may sound like I am in need of help or at least a guest spot on a reality TV programme, but hoarding is not my problem.  No. I am a ‘Collector’, and according to a new book Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector, I am in very good company.

Peter Blake is an artist renowned for his Pop Art of the 1960s.  His studio is apparently filled with his collections, one photo featuring every imaginable form of ornamental elephant known to human kind.  All are arranged beautifully, so cute, so useless … but undeniably a feast for a collector’s eyes.  Interestingly, Blake collected miniature elephants as a way of stopping himself from bigger acquisitions.

I was becoming a bit like my grandmother.  I wasn’t quite collecting 30 mincing machines, but I was heading in that direction, over collecting and collecting madly.  I thought I would put a safety valve on myself: if I go to Portobello Road and buy a miniature elephant instead of coming home with an old bicycle or a complete kitchen or something crazy, I’ll have achieved my ambition for that day

Damien Hirst (famous for his formaldehyde Shark)  has always been fascinated with collecting.  He believes that collections say as much about the person who collects them as it does about the material that is collected.  His collections reflect his interests and passions, they include the macabre, the beautiful and reflect the relationship he feels between art and science.

This title has a collecting obsession to suit every occasion from books, taxidermy, medical instruments, posters, album covers, fabric, postcards etc.  The list is endless, the photography captivating and the interviews enlightening.

Magnificent Obsessions is like a self-help book for Collectors Anonymous.  No longer will you feel alone, ridiculed by family and friends, unable to control your addiction, you are after all in the company of the artistic and creative!

A portion of my Hanmer Ware pottery collection
A portion of my Hanmer Ware pottery collection

5 thoughts on “Collecting as an Art Form

  1. raewynwyn 3 September 2015 / 9:01 am

    I was going to list my collections but I have suddenly discovered I cannot name anything more than heart shaped rocks – everything else I have stashed away doesn’t have a nice collective noun. They are random objects I needed at the time – a lot like Peter Blake’s grandmother. I think your article has helped me realise I am more of a hoarder and after watching a few of those shows I am probably one tragic life altering event away from being a guest speaker! I can’t even blame living through the depression in my defense.

    • raewynwyn 3 September 2015 / 9:01 am

      Oh… and now I ‘need’ Magnificent Obsessions!

  2. Robyn 3 September 2015 / 2:37 pm

    Of course you do Raewyn. Remember – three or more and it’s a collection. Get Magnificent Obsessions and you only need two more books on collecting. Then they will be a collection all on their own. Enabling. That’s what I do.

  3. I Richards 3 May 2016 / 7:42 pm

    HI there. I collect Hanmer Pottery also. I was wondering, do you still collect?

  4. Ivan 4 May 2019 / 5:49 pm

    Hi there. Do you still collect Hanmer Pottery? I also collect and have started a Facebook page purely dedicated to Hanmer pottery. Please feel free to have a look and join the group.

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