Sunday, 2 June 2013


I justify buying and collecting some of the many things I do through vague ideas that they will be part of some art project or other, maybe painting their picture, or setting up little scenes to photograph or using them as props for my stall (if or when I ever have another one). These are stories I tell myself, and sometimes I do them, but the rate of the things being accumulated far outweighs the times I actually use them in these ways. That is not to say I don't get pleasure out of them-just thinking of the ways to use them is enjoyable, and of course there is just looking at them, admiring their quirky characteristics, and amazing details. Having just read 'Stuff. Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things' by Randy O Frost and Gail Steketee, which is a fascinating book, I am considering these things a little more closely. I know I have not got the big problems the people in the book have got, as we can still use most parts of our flat comfortably. But if you look at it objectively, I have too many things for the space they are in, and although it is livable, there are difficulties such as certain things are either lost, not easily accessible or totally forgotten. Also, I do clear the piles of books and some of the bags of wool that are in the sitting room and stick them on the bed for the day if we are expecting visitors.Partly this is to make the space more usable for more than two people, but partly it is because I know it looks very cluttered. Some of the theories in the book about why people hoard really struck me. One was the fact that they are going through life avoiding any form of distress. They feel distress when trying to make decisions about the importance of things, which will lead to them deciding whether to keep something or not. So they simply don't make these decisions, then they lose the ability to do so without causing ever increasing amounts of distress. Another idea I found interesting and which struck a chord is how all these things contain dreams and possibilities. But because of the chaos that rules their lives due to the hoard, many or most of these possibilities and dreams are never realised. So, I decided to start painting pictures of some of the many things I have. I have been using my big sketchbook and have done a few pictures. This one was the most enjoyable as I liked using the gouache paint and I love how these two look together! The cheeky monkey is from Rye and the slightly worried doll is from one of Linda Sue's local goodwill shops, and I was the lucky recipient! 


Shell said...

This is the great way to help keep all your stuff down and document them too.
I had an Aunt and cousin who were serious hoarders. Things ended sadly for them from a direct result of their hoarding.

Linda Sue said...

Excellent painting! and a very good idea! I am trying to declutter with very little success and now we have a huge bird cage in the room - birdsitting for the summer- the space is getting narrow...must clear out some more stuff!

Linda Sue said...

Oh, and that monkey is way too adorable to not keep! Just sayin'

Tracy said...

While we don't have a hoarding problem as such, TJ & I have been paring things down the last two years, and especially last year as we began some home improvements & reno (which is carrying over into this year too!). I'd like to adopt a more minimalist approach to "things". I sometimes feel we have too much stuff in our small house, depsite trying to be organized about it all. Creative supplies is our biggest challenge, as we both dip into may things! So a continuing"battle" of to trying to use things up before purchasing more, etc. I find I work/create optimally in a clutter-free environment, and become distracted if there's too much stuff around me, stack of stuff, etc. Very interesting topic! Happy Days, Sara ((HUGS))

Rachel Gallagher said...

I do seem to be getting to the point where I have too much stuff for the space we live in, especially when it comes to crafting stuff, fabric etc. I've told myself that I'm not able to buy anything new until I've used up some of the things I already have. We'll see how that goes! ;-)

Sarah said...

Hi Shell,
It is sad to hear that your relatives suffered from this problem. In the book people were often cleaned out of all their stuff, only to re-hoard really quickly. The most successful cases had therapy alongside their de-cluttering, forced or not.
Hi Linda-Sue. I am not getting rid of the monkey or the doll, just using them so they are not pointless!
Hi Tracy,
Yes, creative supplies are one of my problems I suppose, though out of all my possessions they are probably the best organised!
Hi Rachel,
I have tried that too, in fact it is one of the ideas I am trying at the moment, so I don't go to the craft shop very much any more. I often have a lapse though if I see something good in a charity shop!

Carole said...

Well done, Sarah! I've been doing the same with magazines, photos, string, yarn, etc. by putting them in journals and collage work.
On Wednesday I'm posting about the installation show I have using found objects and sentimental pieces. I'm going to include my artist statement in the post which explains the art and talks about being thrifty.
Have a great week!