Thursday, January 28, 2010

Secret histories

Since I was 14 I've harboured a secret desire to be an Archaeologist. Indiana Jones was a childhood hero, my brother and I used to 'borrow' some tools from Dad's woodworking table and jog off down to the outskirts of town where cows grazes placidly over a strangely wobbly field- the town's settlement dump. Though nothing came up that was worth anything or older that the 1860s, my brother and I were giddy with glee over the tiniest cup handle or rusty bit of wire.

When I was watching Antiques Roadshow tonight I learned about something I never knew existed. Something that combines my love of London, old stuff, free stuff, scavenging, history, rusted crap and generally mucking about. It's called Mudlarking, and I want to do it for the rest of my life.

Like field walking (where you literally walk a field, head down, looking for artefacts) mudlarkers comb the shores of the Thames looking for everything that's ever been claimed and rejected by the great muddy serpent herself. You must be licensed to do this of course, as well as report everything you find- as every tiny thing reveals a piece of the puzzle of life gone before and to simply find it and go home would be depriving the archaeological world of tiny keys.

The pictures in this post are from the exhibition Thames and Field had at the museum of London. I strongly suggest only going to the site if you have a spare week, because there's just so much stuff there and you really do want to see it all. The museum of London exhibition is linked to on their second website.

I'm going to England at the end of May, and I'm having serious thoughts about staying there until the end of the year- 6 months of wonderful England. I've been there once, 10 years ago, and never have I felt more at home.

And this only fuels the fire! The idea that you an find these things just literally BOGGLES my mind, it's so incredible to me that this stuff is just washed ashore. I get excited when I find beach glass! My brother lives over there at the moment- the basement of his house is 18th century...that boggles my mind! BOGGLES!

I've always been interested in history in this way. I find 'grand' history to be quite boring- who had what war and who was king of so-and-so...but this- the intimate, everyday, ordinary history of the people, that's what I want to know. This is what my work is based on, this is what my life revolves around. The secret history of ordinary things.

Imagine finding that! I think I'd faint- seriously. I really can't think of anything else I'm more passionate about.

No comments: