Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust and Interiors

September 21, 2015

Vintage Kitchen collectionImage: Villa Hemma

This month I saw a fabulous exhibition, which ends on the 27th September, at the Royal Academy of Joseph Cornell’s work. Wanderlust is a wonderful and surprising exhibition based around the life’s work of an artist whose obsession with collecting and curating stories led to meticulous research around and amassing of objects. Amongst his cabinets of curiosity were stories of European ballerinas, a Medici slot machine, a huge fairytale castle and one of the best television montages I have ever seen. I loved his Thimble Theater (which you can watch a tiny excerpt of here) which included footage of  Victorian children playing peculiar parlour games, lions jumping through rings of fire, puppets, silent slapstick and flowers opening their petals through the slow motion of a black and white camera lens. Which got me thinking about my favourite examples of collecting and collections within the home. I have come to this topic before when visiting museums and am fascinated by the concept of collecting and curating.

Fishing Reel collectionImage: Homes & Gardens

I can think of few things more joyful in a home than a celebrated collection of objects with meaning the owner has lavished in a display cabinet or upon walls. In celebration of this I have collected together some of my favourite images that blend interior style and collections. This collection of fishing reels (above) is a long term fave of mine, I love the patina and simplicity, the grouping of what are pretty commonplace objects together encourages you to see their design within a new light.

Shell collectionImage: Via Ethnic Cottage Decor

We all have many mini collections of things in our homes (ours contains quite a few framed butterflies, succulents, corals, vintage trinkets, the odd bit of colourful packaging in the kitchen etc) these objects inspire us but few go all out to amass one great collection. What is great about the collections I have chosen is their magnitude, the way they have taken the spirit of discovery from the grand tours and contextualised them sympathetically within a modern décor. This works particularly well with natural history (above & below), I love both of these exquisite coral collections.  I think natural history may be one of the most accessible types of collecting, its not necessarily cheap but you could almost create something on this scale through clicks with your mouse.

Natural History Collection of CoralImage: Home Adore

Slightly more labour intensive is the amassing of vintage kitchenalia. I have the utmost awe of people who stick to one interest, kitchenalia for example, and spend years, maybe decades, scouring flea markets for finds to complete their collections. I love these kinds of collection, they work so well scattered among a rustic kitchen interior as in the cover picture to this post.

Kitchenalia collectionImage: Brown Dress with White Dots Tumblr

This is a much copied look, I saw one a few years ago in a design book and in my minds eye the originator of this idea is still the best, but in the absence of this image, how swell is this collection of vintage vanity mirrors on a bathroom wall?

Bathroom vanity mirrors collectionImage:Red Online

I love these re-purposed vintage cans, have seen a few on Pinterest used as plant pots and the like but when collected all together like this they are perfect. Because of the vogue for typography these look very fresh, there is something very pleasing about vintage advertising from an era when artists were employed to draw images and text which caught your interest.

Repurposed vintage packaingImage: Country Living

Second to last, two images which feel very modern but in very different ways. The collection of cameras speaks to the zeitgeist of modern bloggers & Instagramers (myself included) who I think experience and articulate the world in ways they would not have ordinarily in pre-Pinterest times. Since blogging I pause to look at things in a new way, sometimes this is annoying as the Instagramer in my head wants to get a shot of something instead of enjoying it but often it is also a chance to take a languorous moment out of hectic life to contemplate something striking or beautiful. I love this collection of cameras because it make me think of just that phenomenon, it almost self-consciously screams it allegiance to the tide of people capturing the world around them in ways both new and old. The image of the butterfly collection is beautiful, within its slightly chaotic styling and rustic furniture there is something very simple and charming about it.

Butterfly Camera Collection Styling

                       Image: Altfordamerne                                                  Image: Homelife

And finally, another flourish of natural history, the use of specimen jars is inspired. What are your favourite collections?

Natural History display

Image:Silent Musings Tumblr

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