Over lock down, I – like many others – have been attempting to declutter and rid ourselves of the abundance of ‘things’ in our lives.
It never fails to amaze me how we collect so much stuff. My husband is by his own admittance quite the hoarder and I have to work hard to keep my hoarding tendencies in check. I long for the organised homely feel of the images we see gracing interior design magazines, or maybe slightly more realistically, the ikea catalogue, and for the most part our home echos such Scandinavian style cues – but our stuff takes over and it feels like an eternal battle between dreams and reality.
I debated the idea therefore of exploring the contrast between minimalism and clutter, tidy and messy, or clean and dirty. The difference between there being many things, and not so many things. The importance in the image, and therefore our lives, the various things take on when there is more or less in the photograph/room.
Before and afters seemed like a clear route for this to take; as I myself work through the spaces in our home, documenting the process and the results in matching images and presenting them in a way almost like spot the (very obvious) differences.
As I mulled this over I realised that actually the process of tidying was as much about the organisational process as it was the objects themselves. So we might not need that particular knife any more, but that is because the area of our home we have decided to store our sharp implements used for cutting – a drawer in the kitchen – is already full of similar objects that serve the purpose, and we now have excess.
I have long been aware that the more storage media we acquire the more objects we seem to fill it with. If we had a second draw for kitchen implements we would be able to keep that knife, for example. And during my ongoing decluttering I have tried to apply the rule of if it doesn’t have a specified home or a specific and often-used purpose, do we really need it?
There are many de-cluttering methods touted as life changing and the solution to all of my problems, and I’ve tried them all. Little bits of different methods work and become routine and others don’t.
But my next question is, why do we store things where they are? Convenience and practicality are the most obvious answers to that question, and I certainly am guilty of rearranging everything frequently searching for the ever elusive perfectly efficient solution. But what if we didn’t store things where they ‘should’ be stored? What if things are put away, but in the most obscure places? (An idea reinforced when I found a pair of my sons dirty socks, neatly ‘put away’ by him in his desk drawers.)
This brought me back full circle to my idea of photographing things in unexpected places.
My next step is to now draw up a shot list of ideas to explore. And I will start this by thinking about where we store items usually, and what items are stored there.
I can then think about what the opposite of these objects might be, or something completely different but similar in shape or size etc that could also be stored in the same place, but isn’t.