top of page
  • Writer's pictureDawn Ford

Exhibition - Object Association and How Hoarding Can Be a Way in Which We Endeavour To 'Cope'.

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

March 2019

This body of work has been inspired by my dear lovely Gran, my memories and the objects that once belonged to her. You see I collect the sentimental. But what surprised me is that I can and do participate in a selective process. And as the project evolved it made me think about those who can't.

'THE BOOK OF VERSES' was a very special book. It was the little cherished book that my Gran allowed me to read and reread on my school holiday stay-overs and our favourite was 'Goodnight dear mother, dear mother goodnight'. This cherished keepsake was the catalyst for my ideas and their development. I have written my memories as a poem, to honour that book and the love we shared for it.

The TEA TOWELS pay homage to my memories of my dear Gran cooking, baking, wearing her apron and washing up, stood in her little kitchen. Memories of the washing line outside, held upright in the middle with a tall stick and her adorable 'curtain cupboard' under the sink inspire the way in which I wanted to display the verses.


These cherished OBJECTS you see here, were either given to me by my dear lovely Gran over the years, or they are objects that I chose to keep on the day we sorted out the 'stuff' in her little flat- only days after she died. And on reflection I realise that for so many people this selective process isn't attainable. For many there is an anxious struggle over what should be kept, or needs to be kept, given away or chucked. A dilemma that is so uncomfortable, so terrifying in some cases that everything is kept. This can be the mindset of a hoarder.

"I realise now that most collectors collect things in order to feel whole." Isabel Ettedgui of the Connolly boutique, 'Cereal' magazine A/W 2018 .

Despite this article referring to collectors, it did make me wonder if a hoarder felt that same sense of completeness, with everything around him or her?

"I open the door to the cupboard under the stairs and peer inside .. It is time......

I shift a drift of tinsel, a collection of used wrapping paper, a stack of folded, faded cushion covers, their colours recalling living rooms past.

"You kept all of them? I call out. She replies "Yes." I fight a spurt of complicated emotion, warm nostalgia, an ache of loss, annoyance, a hot flush of guilt at having taken up so much of her time and space for so long. "Just get rid of it mum. If I've done without it till now, I don't need it." "I couldn't" Her voice is small. "It's Yours." Richard Aslan contributing editor of 'Cereal' magazine.

There is no doubt that certain objects hold memories and evoke feelings but I guess it's distinguishing that association and it's personal value that is pivotal to the 'keep or get rid' dilemma. And for some hoarders that is the crux of the matter; they feel they can't throw away what isn't theirs to throw. But there is another element too - many hoarders feel that if they get rid of something, they're getting rid of the person too.

But of course they are not.

But it 's not that black and white. It's a lot more complex an issue than that. The need or compulsion to hoard is not remedied by people coming in and sorting through and de-cluttering a home. In my work as a Grief Recovery Specialist I have come across clients who struggle to 'let go', who hoard and I believe the compulsion to hoard, to hold onto everything, lies in the emotional attachment to said objects and the loss or traumatic event that triggered that need for the attachment.

So I encourage clients to talk about how they feel, not to hide their emotions - bury them under the carpet (which in our society is frequently how we feel we have to behave) "We say we are OK, when in reality we're anything but." By talking about the loss in a safe quiet space, being heard and not judged, my hope is for the hoarding compulsion to be greatly reduced or diminished entirely as clients learn to keep only what they want to keep and not what they think they should.

"What mattered was that for the first time ever, I controlled the stuff, instead of the stuff controlling me." Corinne Grant 'Lessons in Letting Go'.

4 views0 comments


bottom of page