I’ve been lazy recently – must update more! I’ve been sitting on this stuff for a while now, and I thought it’d be time to blog about this (especially considering I told them I would!)
If you were watching the local events calendar recently, you might have noticed that theÂ 2007 Birmingham Festival of Xtreme Building (now finished, sadly) had an events space where guest shows could come and exhibit. I was just walking past, walking down to take some photos of the area around the TIC in Millennium Point for a future blog, when I noticed this exhibition going on, so I dropped by -Â admission was free.
I was amazed to find what I did; a cornucopia of little mysteries (and one copy of Great Mysteries), all with their own stories to tell. The exhibition was entitled “Belongings”, an exhibition (and indirect celebration) of all things Lost and Found.
Put on by two UCE graduates, Natalie Wilson and Katharine Kavanagh (under the moniker of Kipipeo Arts), the exhibition’s sole purpose was to bring to the surface all those things people discard or lose, and give you a little food for thought, to take a minute to just wonder the situations and circumstances that resulted in the items being where they were. All of the items were tagged with the date of, and where, they were found (or discovered), plus any backstory if there was any. The majority of items were completely anonymous, which lent them a definite air of curiosity (and I like curious mysteries!) When I asked Katharine about where they’d collected their items, she explained to me how she’s a bit of a hoarder (like me!) and that she and Nat had either found items at random or gone to public places (libraries, railway stations, the main Birmingham bus terminuses, etc) and just used their eyes. They had a trunk with some ‘Restricted Items’ in (things that might be dangerous for little kiddies to get their mitts on -good idea) but they also had some rather curious finds like a woman’s handbag (left in Birmingham Central Library about 3 years ago) which had not just her purse in, but her cards, her passport (!), her various forms of identification, a Visa (which had expired a while back) and some letters from what I guessed were her sponsors. You can see the handbag, and the trunk, in the photo of Kat to the right.
I totally clicked with Kat’s mindset – I’m a serial hoarder too, I love collecting things and never throwing anything away, because you never quite know when that oddly-shaped screw or collection of elastic bands might just come in handy. This festival was as much a celebration of not throwing anything away as it was discovering items which would otherwise remain locked away in windowless back rooms in public buildings (only to see the light of day when they were either discarded into a bin or tossed away into a dump). To recycle all these curios in the way they did meant a lot of legwork and effort on their behalf (they apparently spent many months collecting before the exhibition began), but it was most definitely worth it. For the identifiable items (like the handbag with the passport in), Kat said that they were going to do their best to return those items to their original owner, which was a nice touch.
There were some items I would’ve loved to take away for myself (and she said that if I wanted to take something I was more than welcome). I wanted all the 78s! However Kat professed to have claimed them herself because the 78 player was hers 😉 I can’t take a record from someone so I let them be, even though she offered to let me have one to take away, but that would have ruined the collection… So, as a fellow hoarder and an avid (nay, obsessed) vinyl collector, I let her keep them all. (I know how much it means to someone to have a record which is subsequently taken away from them for one reason or another.) I did snap loads of photos though, so I did get to take something away I suppose 🙂
Here’s the best (imho) photos I took (there’s more available, including shots of the most important pages from their explanatory Portfolio) on my Flickr page):
All in all? A very worthwhile afternoon, even if it was a bit overcast. Can’t blame them for the weather, it didn’t rain though. The event was on all weekend, but I never even knew about it until I walked past on the Sunday (I left just after the exhibition closed). I had a great time, and it was an enjoyable morsel of brain food.
So,Â the moral of all this? Always be prepared to deviate from your original plan when out in a city, and keep your eyes peeled because you never know what you might stumble upon and have a great time exploring.