As far back as I can recall, I have gathered and collected items that held meaning to me. As a very young girl, I would rummage through my father’s rubbish bin and pull out sheets of paper and different colored envelopes, organize them and then stick them in a box that I kept on a shelf in my closet. I imagined that these papers were important and that my job was to keep them safe and well cared for.. which meant me going through them on a regular basis, shuffling them around, folding them, sometimes even drawing on them and then of course sticking them back in the box, back on the shelf. Safe until the next time.
Now, many years later, I’m still gathering and organizing - papers, photographs, artwork, treasures found in second hand shops - pulling them out to touch, reorganize or just to remember why I have them in the first place. walking through my home or sitting in my studio, you’ll notice collections of things: a cluster of three ceramic vases bought in a shop in Seoul, vintage frames with current photographs inside, boxes of pens and pencils collected from my travels, greeting cards from my favorite shop in London,.. all of these artifacts act as a reflection of where life has taken me and also where I want to continue to go.
It is important, with such a strong nature to collect and gather as I have, to ensure that only items that hold meaning are kept. It has only been through time that I have come to learn that it’s less about boxes full of old papers and used envelopes as it is about selecting pieces that speak to the journey that I am on. The question that I continually ask is, does it represent a time in my life that could be shared with friends or family?
I hope one day to find boxes full of used papers, sticks and leaves, old pieces of pottery - or whatever inspires her - in my daughter’s closet.. and then to listen to all the stories that she has to tell around each piece.
The collection of photographs published below were taken in London, England while I was there on assignment. The shop, Labour and Wait as well as the Spitalfields Market both speak to the wonder and beauty of gathering.
texts and photographs by Pauline Boldt