He collects broken objects, partly because it means he can own a Ming vase, without paying a fortune for it. He loves mending objects and plays a part in the salvation of an object. He collects birds and taxidermy, sometimes because of its aesthetic value, sometimes because of the stories around it. He bought a large collection of tropical birds, only because the label stated the creator was a barber. He bought a small taxidermy gold finch against a cornfield with a bright blue sky, slowly being eaten away by insects, from the inside. (Part of two separate collections; birds and broken things.) This collection includes a wooden carved bird, a child’s toy from a flea market in Morocco. The toy has two large holes in the bottom to insert sticks to hang the toy on a branch. The sticks act as weights, which make the bird rock gently in the tree. He also purchased a small British copper coin, from the same stall, which the locals used as a talisman to purify the blood. They hung it on their horses, and teenage boys.
He designs and organizes the collections of others. While working on an office, he purchased Danish, German and French modular shelving units. Amusingly, in organizing the original book collection, a second collection emerged, that of turn of the century European shelving units.
He talks fondly about sharing is collections with other, recounting donating a collection of radios to a museum in Hull. Sharing, trading and swapping, are ingrained in the ethos of collectors: having ‘borrowed’ an interesting pub sign whilst teaching in Southampton, he swapped this with a builder in York for a 16th century annotated Bible, which the laborer had purchased at a car boot sale. Saving it from the scrapheap, he realized it was part of a rare 3-volume set, which he then donated to York library.
‘There is a Karma associated with collecting.’
Owning it, however briefly, was reward enough. It seems, playing a part in the history and salvation of an object, becomes part of another collection, one of memories and experiences.
He also enjoys gardening and collects roses, which he always buys in multiples. When asked why roses specifically, he recounts an early memory of being taken for walks in his pram, and taking shade beneath a rose bush. Remembering wistfully, looking up through the dappled shade and the sweet aroma.