- Friday, February 8, 2019
- Thursday, February 28, 2019
- Public Places around London. Including Walthamstow, Twickenham and London Bridge.
During this Valentine month the artists and writers from CollectConnect explore this flip-sided theme with an exhibition of 34 miniature sculptures. These objects are placed in public places (#unsettledgallery), helping us to remember those who we hold dear – or cast off those who we would rather forget. Every day throughout February we feature one of these tokens/pennies on the CollectConnect website. A writer will also use the art as inspiration to create something new and fresh.
Both the Love Token and the Bad Penny are part of the currency of life, two sides of the same coin. These everyday objects are defaced or distinguished to help us remember those who we hold dear and those who we would rather forget.
Love Tokens are part of our heritage but live on today as symbols of courtship and love. The most common tokens are coins smoothed flat on one or both sides. They can then be engraved, either with initials, messages of love or even drawings; or embellished with stones, jewels or punched-out designs. In the past such tokens were exchanged between lovers, but this exhibition reaches beyond these traditional boundaries. In an age of virtual friendships, tokens are a tangible memento of time spent together which equally capture the poignancy of loss. In the UK the history of tokens includes ones for prisoners or convicts (engraved by those being deported to the penal colonies in Australia) and pilgrims. Tokens were often kept close to a loved one’s heart and body. So as not to be mistaken for other coins and objects they were bent and manipulated: you can still find “benders” (a coin bent twice, one side up and the other side down) in the muddy banks of the River Thames.
The phrase ‘A Bad Penny always turns up’ may come from the fact that historically coins could be ‘bad’, that is, forged or debased in some way. In the Middle Ages, people might ‘clip’ coins to remove some of the precious metal they were made from. As early as the 14th Century the term ‘bad penny’ was being used to describe a person or thing which is unpleasant, disreputable, or otherwise unwanted, especially one which repeatedly appears at inopportune times. What made people link bad pennies with the notion of something unwelcome returning is not known. Perhaps it was the sense that, if you clip or pass on a bad penny, it won’t be long before it comes back to you in your change.
Artists and writers
Listen to Alban Low being interviewed about the Love Tokens and Bad Pennies exhibition at https://www.talkingwalking.net/alban-low-talking-walking/