LESEPROBE "This is a collector's edition"

Page 1

This is a collector’s edition beauty

written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson



This is a collector’s edition

written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson

beauty


We often overlook simple familiar things because we think we know what they are, what they do and how they work. Trust me. We do not know anything. I know as little about how my mug is made as my toddler knows about space travel. How exciting it is to know we know nothing. I used to consider myself an uneducated person because I left school young, but I have rediscovered my curiosity. It took me years to realise, that my schooling does not equal my education and that it is up to me to decide what I want to learn.




A few years ago, I took a drawing course together with my eldest daughter. It was organised by a young man who, I believe, was student himself. He set up a still life for us to draw, with fruit and a few household objects. I did not know it then, but when I was drawing, I was not drawing what was in front of me. Because at that time, I was unable to recognise what was in front of me. During the weeks of the course, we were taught how to see. How to see the shadow that falls onto the floor and the way the colour changes, see the reflections on different surfaces, see folds and textures, rough and soft and fuzzy. Slowly and surely, as I learned how blind I had been, I also learned how to understand how to draw. That experience made me want to see real artwork, something by a real artist. It was the gateway drug to something I do not think anyone in my family saw coming.


I decided to go to an art museum. The building that I had walked past on my way to work probably two thousand times if not more.A temple celebrating human creations. A church for knowledge and thought and art (whatever that is). A holy building. A place that I was not privileged to enter until now. Because until now, I had never had a reason to.



My steps echoed when I entered the entrance hall. I saw the two women sitting at the reception desk patiently trying not to acknowledge my presence but waiting for me to come up to them, I had a creeping sensation that I did not belong in that place.


I stood frozen, feeling trapped like I had made a dreadful decision which would be mortifying to go back on. Who did I think I was to go in here? I do not know how to pronounce the names of half the people I saw up on those exhibition boards. In a moment of panic, fearing I would be recognised as the uneducated person I considered myself to be, I turned and fled back towards the entrance. Then I saw the shop.



These shops are strange places. I went in and could have bought all these different things that could prove that I was an intellectual, from a pencil with the name of the museum on it to huge bound books in a tiny font containing black and white reproductions of paintings. Almost as if trying to make up for the fact I had not been inside, I spent a moderate sum of money in there. When the person behind the counter asked whether I had enjoyed the exhibition, I silently nodded my head in shame, gathered my bounty and left that place with this feeling that I had accepted a prize that I had not earned.


This was the beginning of the collection. And now, as back then, I make my decisions based on my gut. I choose the ones I think are most appealing to me. Is that superficial? I choose by beauty. Is it undermining the point of art? I do not have to understand it to appreciate it. But I feel like it is a slippery slope, you start liking something, you learn more, you understand more, you appreciate it more, you like other things, and so it continues until you have a huge collection, and your family thinks you are insane.




I appreciate the deliberate placement of objects within a frame. With the light just right, sometimes things are hidden in the reflections. The composition shows you what things are important and what are not. Things are painted not the way they are, but in the way the painter wanted you to see them. Often, when I am going about my day, I notice things that look so deliberate that they could have been created just to be viewed and admired. But they are ordinary. If you investigate a painting, many of the things depicted can be ordinary too. We see them differently because we are being led to see them as something more.




An original artwork can only be seen in the place where it is hanging at this very moment. Stared at by strangers in the hollow silences of the museum’s corridors, while security personnel watch with suspicious eyes to make sure all is how it should be. Light reflecting off oil paint in the most crucial area that you really want to see, no chair to sit down on. Just a name, a date, and a title decorating the wall next to it.




We live in a time, when we can take a part of this beauty home with us, and I do, again and again. A gift to myself. Sometimes I must explain what I see to help my family understand what they are looking at. I do not think they understand most of the time, but this is a journey that I cannot take for them. Over the years my collection has grown, and I add to it as time passes. Life reflects art or is it the other way around?


I am still not able to draw in the way I had hoped I would learn to in that course. But my collection has given me another gift. The ability to see the world as an artwork. I feel like it has become more beautiful.



“This is a collector’s edition” written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson Münster School of Design Fachhochschule Münster Summer Semester 2021 Supervisors Prof. Dipl. - Des. Cordula Hesselbarth Dipl. - Des. Elisabeth Schwarz Typeface Bookmania Paper Munken Print Cream



“We often overlook simple familiar things because we think we know what they are, what they do and how they work. Trust me. We do not know anything.” From a box of holiday souvenirs to huge national archives and museums, collections can be found in all areas of life. Why are our collections so important to us? “This is a collector’s edition” explores the reasons and emotions behind our collections in a series of short illustrated stories.




This is a collector’s edition spaces

written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson



This is a collector’s edition

written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson

spaces


You can recognise the building I live in as it is the ugliest this city permitted to have built in it. It’s concrete walls have soaked up decades of polluted rain, and it’s top windows have never been cleaned. It is a thousand eyed black speckled monster looming over an otherwise decent looking small town. I get a good amount of light in here and an outstanding view of mostly drab grey skies. This phase of unemployment has been going on for too long, and I am trapped in what feels like a drab version of reality. I hate the view, I hate this city, I love my apartment. It is only thanks to my collection that living here is bearable.




My flat is a space of green blindness, a safe space, an indoor jungle. There are so many ignorant people out there whose only aim is to have pretty living rooms. They might see me as their equal, but a real collector understands that the aesthetics are not everything and that the importance of something grows with its meaning and the meaning of any home is to create an alternative space to the one outside our four walls.


For so many people, collecting begins in childhood. I personally collected pressed flowers. Why are we obsessed with collecting flat things? Stamps, coins, postcards, letters, paintings. If it wasn’t already flat, we try to make it flat.


Eventually the passion waned and I wanted more… I didn’t want to only see my collection dead and dried stuck on pieces of paper. I wanted to be completely surrounded by it. Enveloped by it.



You see, I have an obsession with botanical gardens. I consider them to be the most underrated places in almost every city. They are like small worlds, alternative universes. They are living collections. The warm, wet air of the greenhouses takes you in like an embrace. The sound of thick water droplets slowly dripping from drooping green leaves calms the soul. To see the twitching fingerprints of prior visitors left behind on the eucalyptus leaves and to reach out and touch the sticky oil and stop and smell it secretly. The queues of trees in an arboretum, standing side by side, speaking in their own languages, whispering to each other “is this home? How did I get here?” It is a manmade alternative oasis created by the longing for the Garden of Eden. And when we enter its wrought iron gates, we realise that this is the place we have been missing all along.



Whenever I get invited to a job interview in another city or have a bit of cash saved up, I use the opportunity to visit the next botanical garden. Wandering through the greenhouses, wondering what draws the other people here, I listen to their conversations, which seem to get very personal very fast in these places. They feel safe in the foliage, hidden away, just their voices carrying over the green. And I keep my eyes peeled for the next addition to my collection.



There are many people who would object to the way I have built it, grown the collection, from the ground up, but I promise you I make sure I leave as little trace as possible, and I do not damage anything. There have been a few dangerous situations where I have almost been caught green handed, but so far, I have always got away.


Because it is alive, this collection is more than a selection of items. I must spend time with it every day. And that is the point essentially. Some people collect as a hobby. For others, being a collector is our calling. I take care of them. I was the one who put them here, so it is my responsibility that they thrive. When they need water, I give them water, when they look sad, I try to find out why. When I am caring for them, I no longer worry about my situation, my frustrations, or the city outside. Sometimes we forget ourselves when we are busy with our lives. It reminds me to stop and calm down and sway and take care of myself for a little while too.




They give us life; they can heal us, and they can kill us. Secretly we know, that our entire being is dependent on them, although we like to ignore that fact and charge through the natural world like hurricanes in a fury of destruction.


Collections can be a way to build our own little world, a world in which we are in control of our surroundings. We can add to it, we can sort and categorise it, and we can take away things as we please. We choose who to save and who to leave out in the rain. We plant our own world bit by bit and watch it grow up around us.






If we do not watch out, it grows over our heads, but for some people, that’s exactly the way we want it.


“This is a collector’s edition” written and illustrated by Ælfleda Clackson Münster School of Design Fachhochschule Münster Summer Semester 2021 Supervisors Prof. Dipl. - Des. Cordula Hesselbarth Dipl. - Des. Elisabeth Schwarz Typeface Bookmania Paper Munken Print Cream



“I hate the view, I hate this city, I love my apartment. It is only thanks to my collection that living here is bearable.“ From a box of holiday souvenirs to huge national archives and museums, collections can be found in all areas of life. Why are our collections so important to us? “This is a collector’s edition” explores the reasons and emotions behind our collections in a series of short illustrated stories.


Ende der Leseprobe :) Mehr Infos demnächst auf meiner Webseite www.aelfleda.com und auf Instagram @aelfleda