Marged Pendrell and I had a fantastic (big word, carefully selected!) time running "Digging Down II: A Curiously Collaborative Museum of Lost and Found" as part of (and supported by) National Theatre Wales' residency at Pontio, Bangor last week.
Building on my Digging Down I project, we wanted to see what would happen if we abandoned the traditional model of collection and display, and replaced it with a more interactive exhibition of things found by the public, allowing for exchange and handling, rather than the traditional ‘behind glass’ displays. Alongside a 3-suitcase 'starter' collection, of objects Marged and I had found, visitors were invited to:
- bring along fragments or objects that they had found, to add them to the museum (temporarily, or permanently)
- try their hand at curating and making collections and displays in any way they want (including re-working - or trashing - other people's previous attempts)
- respond to the fragments and objects on display in any medium or way they chose – writing, song, dance, sculpture, soundscapes, wax rubbings, drawings…
Sit about chatting in the café, with free panad and cake (thanks especially to Gert Vos for the marmalade cake, and Odette Baber Straw for the hidden treasure cornflake crispy cakes).
Diolch o galon, thanks ever so much to everyone who came and made this research and development so... curiously, collaboratively creative. With all sorts of people, aged from 3 - 85, coming along and staying for hours, we have concluded that there is something in it! So we hope to develop the project further, perhaps as a travelling museum, perhaps linked to 'digs', perhaps linked to creative activities, performance and dinners. And as we even had contributions from people who didn't come but saw pictures on facebook, we are thinking it could perhaps have an online presence too.
There is very little attribution to the creators of the museum, as (as it happened) most contributions gave their contributions anonymously, often building on (or changing) something the previous person had written or built, so the results have become traces of people once present, just like the objects themselves!
Here are some of the results
[Note: If this blog ends up all fragmented, try playing with the width of the screen so the words get pieced back together with the images)
Gun, leather sole
This is a real gun rusted beyond use –
(into ploughshares). Heavy in my
hand, I’m taken back to childhood –
the toy guns with snapping, smoking
caps. And all those cowboy hats,
plastic swords & forts (I knew then
who & what I was – in one way) All
those toys – shared or played
with alone (all was well either
way). Taken aback to holding my
parents’ hands down miles of
urban streets. Stopping to look -
all those toys in shops, and what
they (and when they) chose to
buy me what I asked for. Those
leather soles, worn out (as we
all will be, and all too soon) My
father cobbling on the iron last -
the leather cut like fingernails
(and discarded) mending my mother’s
shoes (so much he could not
mend for her) all that is broken naw
(regardless). Our triad is broken
now (inevitably) but here we
are threaded together again
through a gun and a leather sole.
SOMEONE TOOK MY OBJECT
TO MAKE A RUBBING –
IMPORTANT FOR THEM – SO
I DID NOT SPEAK UP AND NOW
I AM JUST DRAWING THE BACK –
GROUND AND REMEMBERING
THE OBJECT – SKETCHING GIVES INSIGHT
four French hens + a partridge in a pear tree.
4 four for a family tickets 2 adults + 2
children or perhaps 1 adult + 3 children, but
that might be a bit overwhelming for the adult. For four or perhaps foor fuor fowr faw
for or to the relative I made the table
for the customer.
fish and chips and vinegar vinogwor vienigre. “I used to eat vinegar off of a table
spoon to the extent that I got terrible stomach pains, but I still ate it” – H. Webb. You know when its ready when you sniff it and your eyes water, but the trouble is it makes the chips soggy + they stick to the paper at the bottom. The red and white bottle is round like a conical flask, a round bottomed flask, they aren’t very creative with their names. School waters it down and then waters the ketchup down with the watered down vinegar.
Californian fig syrup
California is famous for its syrup, but usually maple syrup + they put it in sweets or candies and sell it for a fortune because it has the lable ‘Canadian Maple Syrup’ and a
picture of a tree which probably isn’t Canadian, but from Japan or somewhere with beautiful multicoloured forest. But fig syrup is a strange one. Used for sticky toffeeeeeeee pudding or maybe dates. or are they the same. It sounds like an old health food supplement like agave syrup instead of real sugar. Or quinwa quonwa qionar quinoa or the
dreaded kale. MMMhhhhhh MRRRFLLRRRYYHH
are you feeling hungry? Fancy some tomato sauce on the pasta? I didn’t have lunch and my tummy is rumbling. Sauce coch, yuk don’t like that red vinegary stuff, YUKK
Another moment in the sun
We will get there in the end
Why do people leave objects in walls? Private places the equivalent of the shoebox under the bed in which I kept my found objects. The only space that was truly mine.
Should we put found objects back. They may not
have been lost: quite the opposite – they may
have been deliberately placed there – part of
a ritual, a belief system a Hope. Who are we
to break that spell?
Paid a poeni a malu cachu,
Dan wy mewn hances poced,
Na na batman – draw draw
yn Cheina – Iesu cofio’r plant
I see you all the time in airports
reading books by millionaires
How Jesus Christ had guided them
To tripling their sales.
Toy pink panther car with pink
panther driver. Lost thirty-five
years ago in a stream near Llanllechid.
IF found, please return, or provide
with an honourable burial, presided
over by a priest or the joys and dreams
that are dead.
“A toy is the first thing you lose”
Is there something in this stuff?
Time machines. I’d buried this little bottle of coloured water, Mum dug it up and thought I’d buried something (drugs?) to hide it from her. I was really shocked she didn’t understand. I was about 14.
My world in a match box
a shell from when
I first met you
left in my pocket
carried with me
a symbol of you
and me, of us
of another time
when our skin
was supple and
bones were softer
one of a million
on that beach
on that one day
anyone but me.
Group poem: How to be remembered
It’s the things we leave behind
buried truths telling part of our story
passed from hand to hand
dropped, lost and broken they
encircled me when I wasn’t looking.
Digging for answers
fragments of life
slate, metal, bones
layers of moments
we are what
has come before
us and what
dal dy tir
what is the question?
Knowing what it is has changed everything
The history of our world in 100 years
One golden hour
Set with sixty diamond minutes.
NO reward is offered
For it is GONE FOREVER!
Embroidered in a grand mother’s
house in a story by Katherine
Gwerful Mecham 15th century poem. Same time as Dafydd ap Gwilum, but hers were “Ode to Public Hair” and “Ode to the Vagina”!
And the buried stuff broken in the earth
lay sleeping under the earth wormed
out by woken wearings of delightful
discovery. The green that was broken
came under and over the spade shoveled.
Breath restored. I am discovered again
unfolded and folded crushed and undone,
Slowly Broken life upon the soil.
Taken again in wander. Boxed
up put out on tables slowly recollected
and driven back into existence and then
lying in boxed graves again under
the ground blocking worms.
Thrilling to do it in 30 seconds
I came from nowhere, live nowhere +
will go nowhere. I have value as an item
exchange if shared, but prefer at this moment
to remain private.
I may or may not be unique.
In the small white box fled from itself
I break up in constant breaking beating out
the boundaries. Ha ha full of life growing
both inside and out under a tulip mountain.
What was your first loss?
We understand something through a name – names of land, and forestry we’ve lost … words taken out of a dictionary
Is there a reason to shake up and down
in watered wasteland or is it just
a past presented in the present. Fit for
purpose at all times shaking. Green
circles written in the sand I hope
there isn’t the smokey piece of
Thingy on the tingy, tick with the
tin rough with the smooth
before twice, down the black hole
Wandering on the mountain at Moel y Ci, Came across a mound of gorse wood,
burnt years ago and now
weathered and bent into circular forms –
Fascinating form and ‘strangeness’
of circles of wood.
Shaped by history of farming the land
I’m looking at found forms and what they
‘hold’ to have a meaning.
So I’m making ‘Shadows’ of these found forms to see if they as objects ‘hold’ any of the feeling of the original found objects – like a ghost object.
I sleep tangled in my family’s
hair, rats so close together the
blood is mixing, skin fusing to
each other’s other other harmiles
and monsteralls, we communicate
only in screams and lazee bites
13 rats, 1 king.
We are all going to be floating around – bits of us, bits of this, all together. We are made out of the stars and will go back. Levi Strauss Periodic Table life of a calcium atom. Planet in a pebble.
Shoes have a ghost of the person who lost them
This is an Adventure Stick. We live very close to a wood, like loads of sticks, so I always collect them and do tour-guiding for Mum and Dad and friends. I know places they don’t know. We have a summer and a winter den. I’ve still got the first stick I ever collected, on my first walk – it’s tiny! This display is called "going for a walk" (Alena, 7 nearly 8)
Papers. A book. A bound book, hard of cover with pages print and texture. I see its potential in many ways, pick it up the weight the texture and strength of the pages. An Encyclopaedia Deconstructed.
I rip these pages into strips. Some of the pages are now strips of text and half diagrams and pictures made into straws of construction each coil followed by another. First constructed into a pot and then a flower followed by a mythical creature 3 ft. tall
Strips and straws and coils and ideas. How much? How many things can be made out of this ripped up book? Is this process called sacrilege or is it recycling?
Are there questions to be answered like is this book more important than the tree it was once and is the pollution the ink or its words?
Here stands before me many items many things made of text, of history, inventions geography, science and subjects alike coiled and hidden. Set into the structure. Set into form
The process is in present time but these are both brand new and hundreds of years old. Items captured in present day and history. Some useful, some completely useless rather like the original format.
So everything is as it should be nothing has changed only the format. No guilt of change. No remorse of content. Not back on the shelf. Not a book any more but items of creativity. Maybe I will make a tree.
I could stay here for days.
Its like I came here a bit fragmented and then saw all these things, these objects, all these bits and pieces and slowly I began to piece things together.
I don’t have a favourite anything.
I struggle with ‘things’- objects.
We have such a rich material culture,
we generate so much stuff,
much of which immediately becomes waste,
but which might still be of value.
I am torn between valuing everything equally,
wishing to rescue and reuse all kinds of rubbish,
and an urge to rid myself of all material chattels.
Fly tipping – plastic, fridge freezers, hair straighteners
Archaeology of the future Contemporary archaeology