Bob Cantor - The Comedians Painting

Obsessionistas – Collecting At It’s Wackiest

I haven’t posted one of these for a while, don’t worry I am still as enchanted and interested in collecting as I ever was. In fact, I’ve discovered a wonderful website filled with quirky, unusual and fascinating collections. The creators of Obsessionistas showcase individual collections from the curious to the significant. I am always wondering what makes people collect what they collect, a collection often gives us an insight into the the persons tastes, values and says a lot about who they are.

I wonder then what this collection says about Graham. He collects Deely Boppers – those joke head bands with wobbily antenna (no, I didn’t know they had a name either). A collector of over 100 Deely Boppers Graham says…

The ‘official’ justification for the collection is that Deely Boppers represent one of the most ridiculous products to conceive, design, manufacture, retail, purchase and then finally wear, and so as someone who studies and teaches product design they were perfect for questioning the old doctrine of ‘form follows function’.

Deely Bopper Collection via Obsessionistas

Very kitsch you may think but the collection from Bob Cantor is even more, how should I put it, bizarre! I remember being so chuffed when it was back to school time and I got to fill my new pencil case with sparkly new stationary and Bob Cantor has around 200+ novelty pencil sharpeners. His obsession began when looking for a cheap and fun but functional holiday gift and he now paints them in surreal scenes (see below). His colourful pencil sharpener paintings take on their very own bold personalities as they stare back at you in all their realistic glory!

Musician Pencil Sharpener Collection - Bob Cantor

Bob Cantor Pencil Sharpener Collection via Obsessionistas

If you like Bob Cantor’s kitsch artwork you can buy 8″ x 8″ prints from $15.00 – that’s a fantastic price to brighten up your walls! My favourite has to be this adorable musical scene…

Bob Cantor - The Comedians Painting

 For more inspirational art and features on Brogues In A Coffee Bar click here and don’t forget you can see updates and follow me on Twitter!

Jennifer Steen Booher 'Beachcoming'

Beachcombing With Jennifer Steen Booher

Being a Norfolk girl I have a love for windy beaches, rainy walks along the sand and picking up the flotsam and jetsam found on the seashore (if you’re new see more about me here) so the photographs of miniature collections artist Jennifer Steen Booher speak to my heart. It seems that even from the other side of the world in a different climate the coast has the same pull for people and their wild imaginations. Jennifer lives off the coast of Maine and using photography and her curating skills she documents finds from her daily beachcombs.

Her images (seen below) are nostalgic, they speak of memorable coastal walks and my childhood picnics – we used to have a cold new years day beach breakfast when I was younger that I have fond memories of. The discarded man made objects such as: tin cans, rope and the occasional plastic children’s toy included amongst the natural forms of shells and sea glass illustrates our human relationship with the coast and tell their own story. Who lost the found skateboard wheel? Who ate from the smoothed shard of china that began life as a plate? And what journey ave they been on since?

You can buy prints of Jennifer’s beachcombing adventures as well as other objects directly from Jennifer’s website and via her Etsy shop. Sizes range from 5″ x 5″ up to 40″ x 40″ and starting at $50 how could you not! Here are some of my favourites…


Worldwide #AskACurator Day

A staggering 701 museums and 42 countries are taking part in one of the largest museum Twitter events I’ve ever seen… #AskACurator day! From The British Museum, Tate and even the Historical Royal Palaces museum curators across the UK and the world have logged in today to answer peoples questions. A great idea I thought and once I realised that one of my most loved cabinet of curiosity museum’s, The Pitt Rivers Museum is involved I just *had* to stick my oar in.

Follow the conversation at #AskACurator and ask your own questions now. You can see a full list of which institutions are involved here and see my questions below. I will be updating this as the day goes on so keep checking back or follow Brogues In A Coffee Bar on Twitter.

1) Why do people collect? The Smithsonian Postal museum answered…

History museum perspective: People collect out of a need to save our history/better understand our ancestors.

Others say that it is for an escape, to document the time for future generations and simply for pleasure. A few people have answered saying that collections are shaped by peoples need to remember.

UPDATE: The Heinz History Centre has put it perfectly, as a curator whether professional or at home you have to…

 …love and understand objects – how to read them, what they tell us about the past.  You need to be an object whisperer!! Curators are really the people who collect & interpret objects.

2) You’re all curating public collections but do you have a collection of your own? It seems that even though their lives are filled with artefact’s curators still collect at home. From stamps, postcards and miniatures to teapots – Lucy Moore from The Leeds Museum says:

I used to practice curating on my shell collection, but some had been alive, died, smelt and my Mum threw them away.

However, by far the most collected thing in the answers I have received (thus far) is Books.

3) What percentage of your collections are on display compared to that in storage? Astonishingly the V&A display just 24% of their collection and have a further 2 million artefacts in storage!

4) What’s your opinion on using technology (namely, Google Glass) instead of traditional blurb wall information in exhibitions? After previously writing about and having strong opinions against using Google Glass (see article here) in museums/galleries I thought I’d see what the professionals think. It seems it is thought to be an interesting idea but many say they would have to see it in action first.

A Collection From Around The World

I have just come across the collection owned by Jamie Diersing… There is something about this collection that appeals to my tidy (perhaps slightly OCD side) as well as my adventurous yearning to discover beautiful things. Over the years Jamie has found warmth no matter what time of the year in her collection of glass bottles filled with sand from around the globe. Collected by herself and friends/family she began the hoarding sand over 15 years ago and now has a beautiful display of over 93 glass bottles. All meticulously labelled by place and displayed in different new and vintage bottles I dream of a collection like this!

 For more collections featured on Brogues In A Coffee Bar see here and don’t forget you can see updates and follow me on Twitter!

The Victoria & Albert Museum Shop

Victoria & Albert Museum: Rapid Collecting

As you know, from my previous post ‘The Art of Collecting’ I’m always fascinated with collecting and collections – not having one of my own (no, I still haven’t started one) I often wonder why people collect what they do. In light of recent news from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London I find myself again, wondering that exact question.

The V&A’s vast and spectacular collections are due to be expended with a new display and initiative dubbed “rapid response collecting”. Responding to debate, politics, design or pop culture the new space at V&A is to house and display a collection of artefacts from the cheap and cheerful to the technically advanced and expensive. All sounding like a pretty good idea. However, after more reading I am now dubious.

Alongside a pair of Primark jeans, purchased after the collapse of Rana Plaza buildings, Bangladesh which claimed the lives of more than 1000 workers, is a pair of Katy Perry endorsed false eyelashes (above) – why, oh why? And an Ikea cuddly toy named ‘Lufsig’ which when translated into Cantonese insults mothers and is more than unpublishable. I can’t help but wonder how a single pair of jeans can effectively represent the lives lost in the tragic Rana Plaza accident. I am yet to be convinced of this new strategy but I guess we shall see. In it’s press release the V&A says:

The objects have been recently acquired as part of the Museum’s new approach to collecting contemporary design and architecture, known as ‘Rapid Response Collecting’. This new strategy will help the V&A engage in a timely way with important events that shape, or are shaped by design, architecture and technology…

The long- term result will be a permanent legacy of objects in the collection that will help future visitors and researchers to access material culture in the 21st century.

For more inspirational art and features on Brogues In A Coffee Bar click here and don’t forget you can see updates and follow me on Twitter!

Lisa Congdon

The Art Of Collecting: Lisa Congdon

I recently read an article by AnOther Magazine which has relit an old flame of mine… The Art Of Collecting, featuring a series of photographs taken over the span of a year by American artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon. In 2010, after a lifetime of collecting she decided to share her collections with the world in a truly enchanting blog titled ‘A Collection A Day’


Collecting is certainly not a new phenomenon, from the prolific Victorian collectors and the things your nan has kept in the loft to the popular Tumblr blog Things Organised Neatly, it has been a part of who we are as humans for centuries. A group of collected objects such as Lisa’s dice (above) serves as a testament to experiences and memories. Collecting has allowed us to contain the physical world and create beauty out of the mundane – who ever knew the humble golf tee could look so pretty?

Images of collections such as these have the marvellous ability to excite a plethora of feelings. From fear and confusion to delight. For me, they hold the magic of curiosity. Why have they been kept? What do they mean to the person? I remember one of my favourite texts during my student days, titled The Cartographies of Collecting (by Rebecca Duclos) said:

“A Collector may scan their store of precious items and visit or return to places existing outside of their everyday experience. Perhaps this is he most impressive cartographic quality of collections: that geographical and psychological topographies can be seen in the mind’s eye and marvelled at whenever the mood strikes.”

I have to confess, I actually do not have a collection of my own (maybe it’s time to start one) but I adore how other peoples collections reveal a window into their world and personality. My day job as an Art Consultant is all about providing work for and expanding peoples collections. I guess if people didn’t collect I would be out of a job!

If you want to start your own collection of art you can buy Lisa’s prints via her Etsy store. For more inspirational art and features on Brogues In A Coffee Bar click here and don’t forget you can see updates and follow me on Twitter!