In an exclusive and one of a kind event, the Proud Archivist and IKEA made an impressive crossover, using The Proud Archivist's incredible eye for art and displaying and collecting magnificent artists and galleries, and IKEA's thoughtful and tasteful decorating to properly represent these exhibits in all their glory. Liz West’s Guinness World Record-holding treasury of Spice Girls’ memorabilia; around a third of the 3,000 Pez sweet dispensers that Kelle Blyth keeps in her Norfolk garage; a very few of the countless items of vintage clothing that TV presenter Dawn O’Porter has amassed. The exhibit here held a fraction of the 70,000-plus magazines that former XFM DJ James Hyman keeps in a warehouse and is steadily digitising; and a tiny fraction of the Beatles ephemera gathered by the Fab Four’s official biographer, writer Hunter Davies, over his eight decades collecting everything from Prime Ministers’ signatures to Tottenham Hotspur laundry lists to vehicle tax discs. This treasure-house also contained Lego sets, dolls’ house furniture, cameras and stuffed animals. Hosted at Dalston’s ‘The Proud Archivist’, one of London’s top independent gallery spaces, "The Collection' was officially open to the public from 21-23 January 2016.
The camera collection
Dan is a designer, photographer, and an art director based in London and Miami. He is co-founder of both the Photographic Journal and web graph, a design studio, and hosts the Apple Event “ Meet The iPhone Photographer”. He is one of Instagram’s earliest beta-testers and a speaker at the world’s first mobile photography conference.
Dan's collection not only preserves historic cameras, but it also supports his curiosity and passion for photography. Primarily he works with digital cameras and built his career using the developing digital tech but having his career lived through the development of cameras and what they went through, he sought after analog cameras to deepen his knowledge of the old to bring it or translate it into new, learning and testing to bring them back into the world of photography. Most of the cameras in his collection at the exhibit are cameras that he still keeps working and in an excellent condition to hold their beauty and significance to his work.
Star Wars collection
Darryll Jones is a conceptual artist, with passions for painting, photographing food and story-telling but being most well known for his narrative shots of Star Wars characters, putting them in lively places, positions and giving them another lovable life. It all began when he moved from South Africa to England, and with the weather being so grim and dull in the winter in comparison so his main photography style, landscape photography became very limited. At this point he began to use his day day life and objects around him to push himself to be more creative which drew him to his Stormtrooper toy.
"I took a little Lego Stormtrooper down, and I used my 105mm Macro Sigma lens, and started taking a few shots of him. Instantly I was hooked. His little emotionless face lent itself beautifully to little stories I had in my head." - A part of Jones' conversation with Daily Dot.
The taxidermy exhibit
Elle is a professionally trained and practicing taxidermist who only performs on birds who die of natural causes. She began in the Loughborough University doing Fine Art and Sculpture. The way she skillfully and elegantly preserved and displayed these creatures, landed her work being show across news outlets praising her work, the opportunity to give lectures for educational events and for her PR events. her work was also featured in films, photoshoots and editorials and is in many private collections across the world including the Netherlands, Germany, Dubai and the US.
Her contribution to her field is immense, being an incredible advocate for wanting to bring diversity and wanting more people to get involved, and better yet wanting to preserve wildlife, help people look for ways to take part in that field.
The Beatles collection
Most famously, Davies was most well known for his work with The Beatles and his book Here 'We Go Round the Mulberry Bush' which got made into a film with the same name two years later in 1967. When he started his writing career, after publishing his hit book, he raised the idea of writing a biography of The Beatles with Paul McCartney. After getting all the approval he needed from the team and whoever he needed it from, it was then when he began to accumulate unseen and treasured memorabilia and milestones from the band. His Beatles collection is probably the most valuable of all those represented at Proud: he bequeathed the original handwritten lyrics of Help, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Yesterday to the British Museum in 1985 when he realised “they were worth more than my house”.
The magazine collection
To date, it would be difficult to put an exact number on how many magazines Hyman has collected overall, but we know the numbers go well above 5,000 titles and 150,000 editions. The start of his collection was bought around by his fascination by the colours and the visuals, starting with his childhood classics like The Beano and The Dandy and Whoopee!. Later growing too enjoy the jewel-like bite sized information that you couldn't find anywhere else. With his collection spanning from the 70's to recently released editions, his earlier material works as a time machine, showing us content and insights to a different time you cant just search up online.
For James, this was not only a hobby and a love, but also something he just found incredibly interesting, the fact that instead of having juicy gossip right in front of you, having to go to a market or a specific shop to dig out the hottest gossip. Now it serves as a great tribute and sign of the times, being able to watch the formats and mannerisms grow and change to the changing times and letting an entire generation teleport back in time.
The miniature soldier exhibit
Starting from a young age, the actor found himself fascinated by toy soldiers, from traditional British, to the iconic American, and not limiting himself to Franco-Prussian soldiers. As it stood at the time of the exhibition, he had found himself with around 12,000 and still eager to grow his army further and seek new little soldiers to broaden his collection. For some it could be a nod and throwback to their childhood, and their memories playing with the toys and for more of a historical approach, the insight to the toys and their shifting through ages is magnificent, and to see it in person helps to put into perspective.
He commented “These flat ones from the Franco-Prussian war are German, and are still produced today,” the 68-year-old actor tells me. “Those Danish ones you were supposed to make yourself: you bought the molds and melted down bits of lead pipe. Those French ones were given away in cans of coffee, and you painted them yourself. A lot of these are hand-painted.” just showing us the timeless and committed he is to his wonderful craft.
The Spice Girls collection
Liz' collecting started from 11 years old after being hooked by The Spice girls' released their first single 'Wannabe', with everyone around her buying and receiving memorabilia on birthdays and Christmas and any time they could. Initially, it started with albums, magazines and sticker books but it started turning into their singles and then their official merchandise, keeping it all in a pristine condition, keeping it preserved and displayed. Until she was nineteen, her collection was impressive but nothing was reaching museum level content until she was presented with a golden opportunity, a student loan and Mel C's worn t-shirt on eBay.
It was after she graduated the Glasgow School of Art when Liz pursued her idea of exhibiting her growing collection across museums nationwide. It started local and small as expected, but grew to get to get to London and Leeds in 2011 where it bought in a record 50,000 visitors and press.
The Pez collection
Kelle began her collection as a child without realising. As a child she was bought PEZ sweets as rewards and treats for doing scary things, and treated them as toys and kept them. The thing that sparked her collection and her want to keep and collect more was seeing Roger from Less Than Jake in a picture standing in front of a huge collection of the dispensers, bringing her immense joy that she wasn't the only one! It was then when she went home that day to find her collection in the attic. Her collection has grown over the years, starting with a mere few and continues to grow, as she updates her collection to her like-minded audience who also collect the same product, and in their group on Facebook, they share tips, advice and resources to guide new people.
The LEGO collection
Richard 's expertise range far, from writing books, to webdesign, lecturing, technical reviewing and finally a master builder in LEGO. He expertly crafts huge and wonderful builds with the small blocks, proving that imagination really has no limits. He commented on his mass collection, saying "I'm a huge AFOL (adult fan of LEGO), and own a quantity of LEGO no sane human being would ever contemplate). Within the exhibit, he bought along may of his projects, his past builds and his figures and his proudest moments envisioned in LEGO including trains, buildings, cranes and a ferris wheel, showing the beauty in ageless and limitless simplicity.
Along side enjoying building just as a hobby, he went on to volunteer at the Durham Cathedral to build the cathedral in Lego over the span of three years to help raise funds to restore work and a new world-class museum space for the cathedral.