deer antler

Creative Challenge | Make a Collection


Making a collection can be a great way to be creative and to inspire future projects. The trick is to be selective and collect, not  hoard. Sometimes, easier said than done!

Spiral of stones in Kettles Yard, Cambridge
Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Collections like vignettes composed on tables, aesthetically arranged shelves or a cabinet of curiosities, can become works of art in themselves and working with collections in this way can also explore the notion of real and constructed art. If you give an object a new name or put it in a new setting, does it make it art?

Other collections might be used a reference point for study. They might be stored in a jumbled box, neatly catalogued in trays or stuck into scrapbooks. Of course, a collection made into a work of art might also be used as a reference source.

Collecting resources for creative inspiration text below old handwritten cookery book

Collections can also be a narrative e.g. of a holiday, a favourite place or family life. They can act as memory aids, to record and to chart the familiar and the unfamiliar.


to make a collection

collection of different coloured plums arranged in a circle
Train your eye to look for interesting objects and save them. If you can’t carry them away, take a photo or make a sketch.

Play with your objects, look, feel and manipulate them. Think about why you’re attracted to them. Are they beautiful? Strange? Grotesque? Comforting? Reflect on their symbolic function and their historical, social or political significance.

Consider the best way to keep your collection. Some things need to be touched while others are best displayed safely behind glass. Natural items (like flowers, food, insects) can be preserved or left to decay. You might want to regularly deconstruct and reconstruct your collection or parts of it to form a narrative of your journey (physically or psychologically).

Look at everyday things in your house with a different eye. Move things around and form small groups or rearrange your books or cereal packets to form a pleasing display. As well as objects, you might want to collect poems, quotes, patterns, paintings, photos, magazine and newspaper cuttings to use for reference or for your projects.

Your collection might be transient: flowers and fruit arranged and allowed to blow away in the wind or decompose with time. Or be eaten. You might build your collection over a long time: choosing a stone each time you walk a path and adding it to a line or heap. You could make a collage or a scrapbook with collected papers, tickets and notes from a visit to an exhibition.

Collect things you love. Collect don’t hoard. Use your collection to give pleasure and inspire.

Have fun!

Do let us know what you’re creating in this year’s Challenge. Leave a comment below (with a link if you’re sharing online) or tag @Slamseys in Instagram.

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