What did you collect as a child? A quick quiz around S4K HQ revealed that we had treasured collections of fossils, coins, shells and… My Little Ponies. It’s an age-old hobby, still loved today, and you only have to look at the long-term popularity of traditional trading cards to the hot item for summer ’17 – Hatchimals Colleggtibles – to realise that children adore their collections!
Bestselling author Nina Chakrabarti explores the wonderful world of collections, from celebrated to crazy, in her new beautifully illustrated activity book for children out this summer. We caught up with her to find out what’s so fascinating about collecting…
Nina believes; “It’s us trying to make sense of the world we find ourselves in. It can come from obsession, for the love of beautiful objects or curiosity about the world. Human beings have created an amazing amount of stuff over the millennia and all of it is fascinating to someone! There’s just something captivating about seeing lots of the same type of thing gathered in the same place, whether it’s ancient pots in a museum, or a collection of soap bars from the 1950’s.”
Nina grew up in India and started collecting stamps when she was about six or seven. She recalls; “I would receive letters from my grandparents who lived in England and cousins who lived in Africa. I started steaming the stamps off the envelopes and sticking them into a stamp album. When I look at that album now, it’s a real time capsule of my childhood in the 1970s, and a reminder of all the brilliant artwork on stamps, especially by people like David Gentleman whose work I came to admire greatly.”
Stamps are renowned for being a desired collectable item but what about the more unusual collections she has come across? Nina laughs, “When I was doing my research for the book, I did come across some really weird collections. There was the man who liked collecting nails and had over 3,000 from all over the world. I also came across a man called Graham Barker who collected his own belly fluff in jars. I wonder who’s inheriting that collection?”
But if you could have a dream collection of anything at all – imaginary or real – what would it be? “Yves Saint Laurent’s entire collection from the 1970s, in my dress size! Oh, and the shoes of course!”
Nina’s advice for future magnificent collectors
Collect something you love. Love the colour blue? You could start a fantastic collection of bottles, boxes, pots and buttons all in that one colour. Start small. A collection has to start somewhere. One pair of shoes could turn into 300 pairs over time (I’m thinking of my own overcrowded wardrobe here!).
My Collection of Collections by Nina Chakrabarti is available from laurenceking.com from August 21, RRP £12.99