Unit 3 Interdisciplinary Practice- Objects, Collection and Miniature (notes)


Within 21st century, mass productive items are being see as a usual thing and happening in our daily lives, which makes me think that how does this have impact on humans’ action. In relation to the material culture nowadays, how do we see our personal belongings and what do we think by those stuff that we surrounded by.


With this starting point, I start to look into “antiques”. I focus on questioning about why people collect things related to their different personalities, growing backgrounds and personal experience. I want to know more stories behind an object which might leads me to a broader thinking of how we project ourselves onto objects.



I start by reflecting on who I knew in Taiwan. His name is KEA Tsai, he is an art collector, curator and artist. I used to work for him as an assistant for his sculpture and installation. His art practice is focusing on the deconstruction of toys.

We have a meeting in his studio and we discussed about how toys can be interpreted into different meanings and how much he inspired by his own collection of toys. So basically, I found his work a bit quirky. Lots of his sculptures are inspired by Disney characters, such as Mickey Mouse, which most of the time be seen as harmony, peaceful and happy story. But he try to make a conversation between that and the trending craft of making toys. As you can see, the right one is one of his famous sculpture. This are more examples about his work.


I also contact Kristy Chu who have a huge amount of antique collection of toys. But after waiting for a week, she didn’t reply me. Instead, I read articles and interviews about her own collection which are lots of her inspiration from.  She is an artist, lecturer and professor teaching art. Here is what I read from one of her interview about her own collection. She said that these toys are not just toys but a memory about to be forget, a person that you want to remember, a love story or a never returning youth life. For her, these collection of toys represent her life experience and memory. She also wrote a book about her story and how she want to use these toys to remind people that do not forget your past life. These are some of her work.


During the time, I read a book called The Object Reader by Fiona Candlin and Raiford Guins. The book discusses about different perspectives to read the object. This unique collection frames the classic debates on objects and aims to generate new ones by reshaping the ways in which the object can be taught and studied, from a wide variety of disciplines and fields. So, with more knowledge and understanding of reading objects, I want to see more collection and archive.


Therefore, I decided to start to look at stories behind “Toys”, as I believe that toys do play a big part in our memory and experience. Therefore, I went to Pollock’s Toy Museum in London.


When the time I stepped into the museum, it literally somehow threw me back to the 19th century, the reception is made up by a collection of miniature theater set and I think they try to keep the reception desk since 1960’s.

It is a collection of mainly Victorian toys. On display in six small rooms and two winding staircases. There are dolls, teddy bears, folk toys, toys from around the world, dolls houses, toy theatre's, optical toys, toy soldiers and more besides. I found my interests in looking at these theater set collection. Here are some of the examples.

They are really delicate and beautiful and also shows the layer of a theater setting.



After visiting this museum of collection, I draw my attention to the stunning miniature world related to theater set and dollhouses. Then, I visit to the QUEEN Mary’s doll house in Windsor castle, which is the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls' house in the world. Built between 1921 and 1924 for Queen Mary, consort of George V, by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it includes contributions from over 1,500 of the finest artists, craftsmen and manufacturers of the early twentieth century.

I also went to the V&A Toy museum. There are a huge collection of toys from all over the world which are for different ages kids. Again, I focused on the section of doll houses and miniature stuff. Here’s an interesting pints written in the section of miniature world. “Many toys represent things that are familiar to children, from houses and shops to miniature furniture. Children’s imaginations allow them to populate entire worlds with complex characters, stories and relationships. Do you think we ever grow out of imaginary play? I think maybe we are all still framing our characters by those belongings we have and the space we lived in.


This gave me more insight into how a collection of objects within a space can form an identity and how does the objects take us back into a certain period of time.

But then, the question is how to use these ideas to my creative practice? Whilst researching and learning about theater set and all these toy collection.


I found a series of prints for theater set, which most of them are combined with several sections of frame works. These prints are mostly replicate the image and kind of make you wondering what’s happing in the scene. Here are two examples below.


Through the process of interviewing different people that I am interested in living in my country, I can extend my feelings to stuff and then express them within my paintings. Also, through several archives and collection in London, I should have enough images to work on. In addition, the prints really inspired me a lot. I think I will put these elements in my painting as they look so theatrical and narrative. I have also thought about involving three dimensional practice which might create a more dynamic work.