The Hoarder Next Door

The Channel 4 series The Hoarder Next Door (May 2012) documents the struggles of “extreme hoarders” living with their accumulated rubbish and trying to make life changing alterations to their behaviour.

Psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses is the expert on hand to help the subjects understand their hoarding and make amends. Complex emotional attachments and displacements along with OCD behaviours are prescribed a range of techniques to reduce the dependencies on the piles of stuff taking over their homes. The subjects invariably want to change and reduce the clutter but struggle to part with the even some of the most likeliest nominations for the bin.

Tina Vaughan is the subject of the episode I watched. “An aspiring artist with no room to work, 44-year-old Tina Vaughan is a compulsive hoarder of all things 1960s. An avid collector since she was a child, Tina lives in a cramped flat with two cats for company.”

The distinction between collecting and hoarding can be a fine line and the programme defined hoarding as, “When collections loose any sense of focus and turn to clutter.”


Hoarding is a relatively newly recognised psychological disorder amongst professionals and is also thought to be on the rise (perhaps also a rise in recognised cases) with up to 3 million sufferers in the UK.*

* http://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk/

Further links:




Currently reading: Richard Girling – Rubbish! Dirt on Our Hands and the Crisis Ahead. Published by Eden Projects Books in 2005,

Rubbish!is an examination of the problem of wastedomestic and industrialin the UK and elsewhere. Challenging and controversial, this is a rigorous examination of the problem of waste worldwide and the efficacy of the public and private initiatives designed to forestall a crisis fast ballooning into catastrophe. This is an investigation of the looming problem of waste in the 21st centuryour fridge mountain; our crumbling sewers; trading waste; packaging waste; the enormity of our industrial waste; spam emails and new forms of waste; and the horrors of incineration. It is an attempt to find a blueprint for our survival, and to examine the way our lives may have to change.

I think I picked this book up from the Wellcome Collection in London when I visited the exhibiton Dirt: The filthy reality of everyday life in 2011 http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/exhibit…

I thought after reading two US authors books on rubbish I’d see what a UK author had to say on the subject.

Having read the first chapter History I’m wondering whether to bother continuing. With a distinct lack of deductive rationale, Girling’s style is provocative opinion interspersed with historical quotes and statistics. I checked his biography to try to understand where he’s coming from and it transpires he’s senior feature writer for The Sunday Times. Which figures.

Disappointing so far. It did cross my mind that maybe he’s ironically adding the incredible mass of rubbish and laughing all the way to the bank each time somebody forks out £7.99 for Rubbish!

Any further recommendations of UK (or other) authors on rubbish welcome.


Currently reading: Heather Rogers – Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage (selected quotes continued)

Chapter 5: The Golden Age of Waste

Rogers outlines the three distinct ways the “Fordist” super-efficient postwar manufacturing system massively increased trash in 1950s America (p.104):

1. Less recycled inputs from household wastes handled by independent junk traders

2. Built new forms of waste into both commodities and production process

3. Demand of unprecedented levels by consumption. The main by product of which was garbage.

p.110: As the Cold War gained momentum, government and US industry alike began equating democracy with freedom to purchase.

The means of expanding consumption were two fold (p.111-112):

1. Encouraging over-consumption of more than one of everything from refrigerators to cars to homes

2. Designing products with prefigured “death dates” becoming obsolete due to fashion and design changes (built in obsolescence)

p.113: Technological obsolescence was employed as early as 1939 when General Electric manufactured light bulbs to burn out faster so they would need to be replaced more often.

p.115: The apex of built in obsolescence was the disposable commodity. Marketed under the alluring dual banner of cleanliness and convenience […] widespread production and consumption of disposables kicked off a whole new level of wasting (chiefly packaging).

On plastics as the embodiment of the wastefulness of the postwar period (p.119): A Roland Barthes noted, “The hierarchy of substances is abolished: a single one replaces them all: the whole world can be plasticized.” Roland Barthes – Mythologies (p98-99)

p.125: John Berger: “The passive worker becomes the active consumer. The working self envies the consuming self.” John Berger – Ways of Seeing (p.148-49)

Chapter 5: Spaceship Earth: Waste and Environmentalism

p.131-132: Apollo 8’s voyage to the moon, just months before the inaugural E-Day [Earth Day], produced one of the first photographs of planet earth from outer space. This image unexpectedly showed viewers everywhere an image of the earth as a finite resource and helped trigger an awareness of the limits of nature’s abundance, creating what came to be known as the “overview effect.”

p.143: KAB [Keep America Beautiful]’s Heritage of Splendour (1963) “educational” film narrated by Ronald Reagan: “Trash only becomes trash after it has first served a useful purpose. It becomes litter only after people thoughtlessly discard it.”

p.152: A Karl Marx write, “The worker puts his life into the object, but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object.” If this is true, then in our current system, the worker’s life belongs not only to the commodity he or she makes, but also increasingly to the garbage graveyard. In this regard, garnage is not just nature but human labor throen away.

Chapter 6: Recycling: The Politics of Containment

On industry’s resistance to recycling (p.169): After a three year battle [in which] MacDonald’s described Styrofoam as “basically air” that was benign to landfills because it “aerated the soil,” the fast food giant gave up using the stuff in 1990.

p.230: Garbage is the detritus of a system that unscrupulously exploits not only nature, but also human life and labor.


Rubbish (2011) is going to be screened at Garage Show 2: a fast & dirty exhibition in Edmonton, Canada,
25 & 26 August 2012

For Garage Show 2, fast & dirty will be exhibiting paintings within one residential garage and a screening of video art, short films, and animation in the backyard of a second house across the street.

The exhibition will also be open during the following afternoon with a screening of the video program within the same garage as the painting exhibition.

Painting Exhibition: Curated by Jennifer Rae Forsyth: Tim Rechner, Nomi Stricker, Claire Uhlick, Hope Well.

Performance: Jen Mesch Dance Conspiracy, Raylene Campbell.

Video Screening: Curated by Kristen Hutchinson: Loren Albrecht, Sharlene Bamboat, James Birkbeck,Alice Bradshaw, David Browne, Andrew Buszchak, Goatsilk (Ben Bloch & Caroline Peters), Josh Hite, Ashley Huot, Kevin Jesuino, Gabrielle Pare, Scott Portingale, Jenny Swim.



Last night was also the mid-show private view of Microcosm in Leeds which I’m exhibiting in with Elastic Band.

Departure Foundation (also producing HOARD) have secured a huge office space in Leeds Valley Park where Microcosm is taking place 14 June – 31 August 2012.


Whilst few of the works on display directly or overtly deal with the notion of rubbish, there were a couple of pieces using throw-away/discarded/found materials and drawing attention to the life-span of objects and materials.

Fiona Long’s Microcosm was probably the most obviously rubbish-related work featuring Haribo Starmix packets pinned to a board in a constellation-like composition.

Marcus Orlandi’s wood used in Deserted (HELP) is not labelled as found or reused but my suspicion from the wood’s condition is it’s been salvaged from desertion, possibly from a skip or a house renovation. They look like old floorboards and I’m keen to know more about their history.

Lesley Guy’s Transformations are composed of oil and pencil on newspaper, newspaper and a paper coffee cup, and newspaper and a toilet roll middle. The objects look to have been considerately selected for the images portrayed in the temporal medium and for their specific sculptural form. These materials are from the everyday world of the consumer society and throwaway culture, now elevated to the status of art through precise and attentive transformations.

Steve Hine’s Prosthetic is labelled as a found table with chrome plated tube, caster and fitting. Likely to have been a skip find thrown away due to damage beyond functionality, Steve has rescued and restored this piece of unfashionable furniture. Unlike traditional furniture restoration where repair is designed to be as unnoticeable as possible, Steve has fashioned another contrasting table leg, matching in height, to form an anthropomorphised prosthetic limb for this elderly and neglected piece of furniture.