There is a pleasure in collecting that is linked, I think, to its childlike way of relating to the world – simple categorisation, arranging things into arbitrary configurations, and taking ownership. The process brings a sense of security and control but there is also pleasure in what is created, the “collection” becoming much more than the sum of its parts.
“The most profound enchantment for the collector is the locking of individual items within a magic circle in which they are fixed as the final thrill, the thrill of acquisition passes over them” Walter Benjamin, Unpacking My Library, 1968.
I had collections as a child (the predictable types – badges, marbles, stickers) and I’m enjoying watching the satisfaction my 5 year old gets from collecting and sorting through his. He likes to collect things he finds outside and has a number of clear boxes with his different collections – broken pottery, interesting stones, bits of metal, shells, and “shiny things”. I don’t have my own collections any more but visually I find myself very drawn to collections of arbitrary objects. There is something about the repetition that I find very pleasurable, almost exciting and yet at the same time it can feel a little unnerving. I find it interesting how an individual object looses its utilitarian purpose and takes its significance as a part, a member of something larger and less tangible.