Give me a museum and I’ll fill it – Pablo Picasso

As a child, I was actively encouraged by my grandmother to collect salt and pepper shakers and keep a scrapbook, mainly with pictures of Princess Diana. Unquestioning, it just became something that I did. Decades later I look at my life and my work and I am literally surrounded by collections. I have become a collector of collections. Ebay is the source of the nile when it comes to laying ones hands on a ready made collection these days, all the hard work was done sometime last century. It makes me sad to think of them being sold in such a way but also happy they can be united with the kindred spirits of their creators from another time.

There is no doubt they provide an important and bottomless source of ideas and inspiration to me and are also a touch stone to the not to distant past I feel I have to have a physical link with. Undoubtedly the days of building a collection as a hobby are all but gone, time is too precious to flounder about along coastlines searching for shells or fossils and stones and the resources are no longer so abundant. Early C20th collectors could be seen to have ruined the party for others, egg collectors went a little of the rails for example. I treasure the rocks and minerals, the shells, the eggs and the corals I have. I know I won’t hold onto them forever but while they are with me they will be loved, and looked at and wondered over again and again.

It’s not only the victorian hobbyist who’s collections I admire, these daffodils displayed (of course collections and displays go hand on hand – two of my favourite things) at the Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago still make my heart sing. The Wedgwood bowls help.


And then there are the collections of the great museums of the world, I long to live in a museum.


Peter Hone, our great friend and master plaster caster has the best collection of anyone I have ever had the good fortune to visit. 

Here is a cabinet collection of busts: 


A casual collection of intaglios:


The most enviable collection of creamware:


And this is how he has inspired me:


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This weekend I’ve been enjoying going through the victorian shell collection I bought a year or so ago, and a small part of my rock collection I never tire of adding to.



Most shells have been identified, slips of paper with their specimen names and location found can be seen inside most of the shells cavities.


This picture of a Christopher Hodsoll interior is an image I have known for years and inspires me every time I see it. 



I have a collection of blown eggs, given to me a while ago by an antique dealer, I will treasure forever..


The box of rocks and minerals I have at my studio have inspired me to start making crystal towers and spar boxes as a nod of appreciation to the miners who started a craze in the C19th.








 I love to see other peoples collections, those that have been passed down the generations or accumulated over a lifetime and to hear the story behind them. Do you have a collection you like to visit from time to time?



6 Comments to “Give me a museum and I’ll fill it – Pablo Picasso”

  1. Beth Scanlon says:

    Me too Bridie,
    One very cold Spring Break, at the New Jersey shore, my then small children collected only bits of purple shell for me. I dubbed it The Purple Collection and mounted them on a board with elaborately painted numbers and no explanation save a Shakespeare quote at the lower edge of the board. “Purple the sails and so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with them.” In one our moves the board was damaged and I discarded it.
    All of this to say, I want to live in a museum also and thank you for this lovely post and morning. I have enjoyed reading your previous work and will look forward to future posts as well.
    Most Sincerely,
    Beth Scanlon

  2. Diane Keane says:

    Hello Bridie,
    I was re-reading your own meet-the-maker post from last year on Ben Pentreath’s blog, and had a yen to visit with you. Luckily (for me) I remembered that you have your own blog, as well! I am glad I stopped in. I too love collections of visually beautiful and/or intriguing things. I make no claim to be a collector, I’m more of an accumulator. I suppose the thing I have more of than anything else, is books, none of them valuable, all of them loved. Speaking of books, your desire (which I share) to live in a museum, made me think of “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L.Konigsburg. It’s an absolute delight, about a pair of children who secretly take up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Have you read it? If not, you are in for a treat!

    I love the look of the red coral against the malachite wall paper, brilliant! Thank you for sharing some of your own collections. I will be back!


    Diane Keane

  3. How funny! I just wrote about The Mixed Up Files! I loved that book as a child.

    As an adult, I have had a number of collections, but realized several years ago that I am more a hunter than a collector. I love the thrill of the hunt, but that’s the excitement for me. When I moved to the UK 10 years ago (this week!), I got rid of everything I owned, and found that it wasn’t hard to do. I did keep my collection of gorgeous copper pots and pans that my parents had bought for me in France and schlepped back to the States. Oh, I guess I collect cashmere sweaters, since I love them so much.

  4. Whit says:

    Dreamy shells! I think those crystal towers on bases are so clever. I have never seen one before.

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