IN DEFENCE OF STUFF

EMMA O’CONNELL | GRAPHIC DESIGNER
emma.j.oconnell@hotmail.com

I’ve been obsessed with stuff ever since I can remember. My toy collection was where it all began; I had hundreds of Barbies and accessories, millions of soft toys collected from trips to the zoo, and my Beanie Babies collection was out of this world.

However, throughout the years my obsession with stuff has expanded and evolved. I no longer collect toys; I now collect memories. Which leads me to the ultimate question: why does an object hold significance for one person and none for others? I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of seemingly pointless and unnecessary items strewn across my bedroom, however they all mean something of importance to me. Take my light-up Corona necklace for example. What does that mean to you? Probably nothing. What does it mean to me? The best Cinco de Mayo I’ve ever experienced.

Many of the articles in this journal resonate with me as I believe in the significance of stuff. How strange is it to walk into somebody’s room only to find out that they own next to nothing? Where is all their stuff? Where are their fond memories and quirky objects collected from trips and adventures? I adore going into a friend’s room, complimenting an object, and subsequently hearing a fascinating story of how they acquired it. I think that’s the beauty of stuff right there.

Maybe I get this incessant obsession from my Nan. For years she would come to our house with all these strange and wonderful gifts, mostly bought from the Innovations catalogue (to this day I’m still unsure of what that actually is). I think that’s why I love Sarah Koik’s ‘The Grandma Museum’ so much. It reminds me of how in a world that’s developing so quickly, people can still find these small, supposedly insignificant, items
so valuable.

I read once that, “objects become meaningful after we’ve lived our lives around them,” and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve kept rocks and gems that I’ve found from places I’ve found fascinating, trinkets and jewellery from past boyfriends, and strange souvenirs that serve absolutely no function whatsoever. However, to me they are important memories and bring me back to a time that I enjoyed dearly.

I am in no way slamming the simple living movement, or saying people
should be borderline hoarders just like me. I just truly believe that the world would be a lot less interesting if nobody kept all of their stuff.

This article first appeared in Ligature Journal issue zero.
Find out more about this issue here and buy a copy here.

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