Wonderful Collections

6 Jan

I am really grateful to those who have contacted me via this blog or by facebook to let me know about their own research or to give me ideas. It’s made me think more about the other research projects already out there or in progress that deal with the stories of collections.

Today I’ve read through a few past PhDs. Christopher Jordan’s work about Ernest Marsh has a fabulous literature review chapter, if I can mine to sound half as intelligent as that then I will be very happy! He writes that we shouldn’t overthink what factors make a collector, and that it can come down to the simple fact that it brings pleasure. It’s quite a refreshing thought when I’ve been getting myself bogged down in the implications of social background and the psychology of what makes objects appealing. I also think that I can make progress where he says that we can never really know a collector and what he was thinking at the time of acquisition, and that any study is doomed to capture just one moment in the history of a collection. I’m lucky that I have so much source material documenting the collecting process and giving me that elusive insight into what the collector was thinking. Also, the whole point of the object biography is that it accepts objects are never static and it documents changes in status over time.

I also had a look at Lucie Carreau’s PhD about the Beasley collection; similar sorts of material collected at a similar time to the Egerton collection. It looks as though we have similar aims in mind, to bring a marginal figure to academic attention and to look at the peculiarities of private collections.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go over a thesis I read during my MA by Emma Poulter, who I know used the biography structure more specifically in her reading of the African Collection at Manchester Museum. I did a work placement with this collection, and working with the objects and reading her work really made me think I would like to do something similar.

It’s great that all these collections have their advocates out there, and I’m hopeful that my PhD will join these interesting accounts in the future.

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One Response to “Wonderful Collections”

  1. Liz Mitchell January 7, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Your reading sounds really interesting, wouldn’t mind a peek myself if that’s not being cheeky. Something I have been thinking about in relation to Mary Greg is the idea of her collection being neither entirely private nor public, but a kind of hybrid. She was so involved in the life of the Gallery for over 20 years that this informed her conception of the collection and what it was for. Don’t suppose you know of any work that brings private and public collecting together?

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