This is a blog post originally published on my website

I publish it here and now to create a forum for artists working with objects to join me. Send me posts, links to articles anything of relevance to the furtherance of our understanding of how and why objects form the core of our practices. In my view – a museum can also constitute a repository of ideas and information. We can build the museum as we go.

I look forward to hosting your ideas and all submissions will be welcome.


Until recently I hadn’t thought that there could be museums wandering the earth seeking shelter from the elements, their collections endangered, uncatalogued, and at risk of imminent dispersal. Don’t all museums have a building, curators, attendants and plenty of visitors for company? Well no. Some museums live in our cupboards and imaginations, awaiting their moment of arrival. So it was with my idea for a Museum for Object Research.

I have major plans for Barcelona in a Bag to create an online museum dedicated to the experience of exile and the objects that remain from the homeland and those that are remembered. This takes up a great deal of my time and my thoughts. I am in an intensive phase of research and development, which I hope will one day yield results.

This work, forms part of a greater scheme, the desire to truly understand our relationship with objects through a cross disciplinary approach, consulting with the public, artists and academics alike. I have a department reserved for autistic perspectives, which I believe are important in developing ideas about the significance of objects. So my museum has come home. No more wandering or wondering. A museum, I am finding can begin with an idea, which once published becomes concrete.

Join me in building it!

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Help me lord! I shouldn’t really be blogging mid-install, but I’m up at crack of dawn and keen to share my excitement at finally bringing my Neither Use Nor Ornament (NUNO) project to the public.

I’ve never done anything like this before, and there is one aspect to this experience which has pleased me like no other. Surprisingly, I’m chuffed to bits with the exhibition install design. By which I mean the configuration of available partition walls at the OVADA gallery.

The gallery is essentially a raw warehouse environment with myriad quirks built in to the fabric of the building. I’ve spent approximately five months with my mentee, artist Hugh Pryor, modelling the space this way and that. We’ve also needed to accommodate an ambitious installation by duo Neil Armstrong and Dave Edwards, which has meant a lot of building – new panels in awkward spaces, mainly.

One colossal job has been to decorate huge expanses of these clean looking wooden inserts to contrast with the raw space. And this is the bit I’m proud of, it looks terrific already! What on earth will it look like with all the works, that currently rest in boxes and sundry packaging, installed.

Despite the exhaustion of being decorator in chief, I can admire the beautiful harmony of the install, and be proud that we’ve given so much thought to allow a space for everyone which is not only sympathetic to their work, but which will work also as a whole. Somehow we’ve Feng Shui’d it. And it was one essential last minute tweak that swung it. Phew!

I have a million things to think about and a huge long checklist to be printed, which reminds me how difficult it’s been to be both manager and a creative on the project – how little time at the end I felt I had to finesse my work. But somehow I just know and trust that it will come together in this wonderful space. I spend last Sunday considering my piece and arriving at a new way of presenting some of my process, which I’m keen to capture and distill if I can.

My work is very process oriented. It sometimes almost feels like a violence to the process to present a finished piece – though I do love a sense of completion too. The picture of it at the top of this blog post is one I’m especially pleased with and will try to find a space for in my final hang.

Details of NUNO can be found here




It’s been long time since we blogged here! So much has happened since we opened back in 2014, including two rounds of Arts Council England awards, to bring the Museum to life.

Since beginning this project I’ve been on a bit of a journey and discovered my identity as an invisibly disabled person, and this has influenced the process of transferring the contents of this virtual space to ‘realtime’.

You can catch up with all these goings on at a shiny new online space 

For today I want to share what’s happening in my cabinet!

Museum for Object Research work these days includes a signifiant proportion of project management, mentoring and consultancy. I sit at my desk a lot. In order to keep the creative side of my work for the #NUNO project going I installed a cabinet next to my desk. A happy accident (prompted by finding a cabinet I couldn’t leave behind at my local charity shop!) which turns out to have been a masterplan.

The idea is that I can swap easily between desk and cabinet. The reality is that I can. I couldn’t have conceived of this arrangement in a million years, and yet it is perfect in resolving what could have become a real schism in my practice.

Layers upon layers of allusions are piling into my cabinet, and I document in my own manner. It’s pushing me toward a new interest in photography and I’m moving away from my iPhone for this element of the work.

I’m also busy gathering objects to include in this piece – I appreciate each one, and the slow build as they find their place on the glass shelves.  I have built access into my work for this project I now realise – there are no barriers to progressing with it – I have self-designed my own access unconsciously, but wonder if this is how we should view all practice. We are all designing our lives around our neurological profiles (those of us who have the agency to do so at least).

Have also returned to the roots of my idea for the museum as personal construct. My cabinet of curiosities is precisely that.


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This is a painting by my father, José García Lora, painted eleven years into his life-long exile from Spain, due to the Spanish Civil War. My father died in 1989, and it is one of the most precious objects I own. My mother gave it to me for the Barcelona in a Bag project back in 2013. It formed part of my residency – from which the entire project evolved – in our studios project space, Filament 14.

And then it vanished.

Distraught that I had somehow thrown it out in one of my studio clear-outs, I failed to find it. No matter how many boxes I looked in or how deeply I poked about in the corners of the studio rafters, I just couldn’t locate it.

Cursing my absent-mindedness, I believed the worst of myself. I had thrown dad’s (only?) painting away. But I said nothing. Too ashamed in part, yet ever hopeful that I surely could not have been so very, very foolish, and that some day it would return.

Dreadful pangs of grief and anxiety pierced me each time I saw this photograph in my iPhoto library. But at least I have the photograph I would sigh, trying to console myself.

It must have gone missing in about 2014, and slowly it faded from my daily conscience and remained in the margins of consciousness to rebuke me only on occasion. In those horrible moments I was a careless child again, and should never have been trusted with something so precious.

Periodically I searched for it, but over the two years of it’s absence I imagined that ghastly bin bag it must have slipped into by mistake. You know the scene. The pile for throw away and the pile for keeping must have got muddled in my brain. I played it over and over in my mind.

But today, of all days it came back to me. Today of the flat tyre and the hopeless delays to getting to the studios, became THE day. It became the day the painting came home. And it did so in the most unexpected way.

My studio mate has decided to vacate her space for a few months and I’m taking it on. The timing has been perfect for both of us – she needs to take some time out, and I need to stretch out. The deal was done quite quickly, and during this morning of my endless delay in getting there she had moved out, leaving a table, a chair and two boxes.

The table we had discussed. The chair was a nice bonus – I’ve doubled my studio size and I like the idea of two chairs rather than having to move one chair about all the time.

The boxes, I told myself were hers. Though funny that they looked quite like some I have. Funny to leave just two…

My mind took in the scene and I very quickly decided to put aside my painting session and begin sorting. This I happily did for a while – it’s beautiful space – and there is almost nothing I enjoy more.

But the boxes caught my eye again. I’ll send an email I thought. Perhaps she has forgotten them!

I carried on. For several hours. I can sort for England if the motivation is right.

My sorting brought me closer to the boxes. Hmm…what if I move them out from under the table, I thought? That will make it easier for her to find them when she comes to collect them, and I can start stowing my stuff in their place.

On pulling them towards me, a thought suddenly struck. I better open the lid to check what’s inside. Perhaps she doesn’t have space at home and I can stow them somewhere in the rafters for her, but I didn’t want to go lifting them up a ladder if there were breakables inside!

And that was it. THAT was the moment I saw my father’s painting again, and in a blinding flash discovered that the boxes were mine. Old works from 2012, some collage materials, and dad’s painting safely stowed on the top!

I had not after all been careless with his memory. I hadn’t tossed away a most precious object in a family legacy I’ve pledged myself to these past three years. There was no black bin bag. There was no mistake. I DIDN’T TAKE DAD’S PAINTING TO THE TIP!

Instead it had lain in a cosy cardboard box in my studio mate’s corner space. And now I remember. I was short of storage space and she so very kindly offered to stow these two boxes away for me. Its the kind of gesture we’ve made for each other over the two years we’ve shared this space, and I so appreciate her for it.

But the thought remains. Because my memory is poor, and my boxes are never labelled I DID mislay the painting. I really should have kept tabs…

But honestly, words really can’t describe my joy.

I love this painting so much, and can now again study each brushstroke, marvelling that my dad took so much care. To me it reads as well as any letter. I feel I can read his thought processes, and trace his decisions. I think I understand the tone. It brings him closer to me in the way handwriting also does.

It was made so long before I was born, coming from a part of his life I can only get glimpses of through family photos of the period.

Mum thinks the scene is invented but she doesn’t remember too well.

I like to feel it relates to the joy of holiday reunions with his parents – who had different luck and returned to Spain. The family was forever split in two, but reunited countless times after the long separation of 1939-1947 (which marked them all for life). They used to meet in France, just over the border from Spain, in the years before my father was able to visit Spain.

But this object also brings me sharply into the present. I think about the objects today’s refugees hold dear, and the stories of survival and loss, of their most precious possessions.

I feel more and more the living truth that the intimate objects in our lives come to take on signifanct aspects of human identity, and have the capacity to contain a world of condensed meaning.

I know objects are not life and death, but for me this observation makes the refugee crisis all the sharper.

Sonia Boué


Tread Carefully

We bought a rug in Tunisia

but they kidded us.

“I am your waiter – don’t you remember me?”

Cajoled onto his catacomb tour;

one thousand year eyes stared up at us.

“My friend’s shop is better value -

it is government controlled”
he said.

So we descended cold stone 

to the showroom below.

“This one is perfect
and this one too…

This is the tree of life.”

“Should I take off my shoes?”

A top quality five knot twist

with no grounds to resist purchase.

So the suitcase got rammed with our rug;

heavy as their complicated history.

“Thank you for coming at this time”

the coach driver tannoyed,

“we appreciate your support.”

One year later that beach went global,

for all the wrong reasons.

I imagine their sea still laps;

their camels’ feign indifference

and insurgents still insurge

through Sousse to Syria.

And our real waiter,

who no doubt was a good man,

probably has no job.

But that wasn’t him.

Most days I tread the rug,

and the soles of my feet

wear delicate paths 

those cunning unknown souls

unwittingly began.

neil armstrong 2016