The Museum of Imaginative Knowledge

James Mansfield is an artist. One of his projects is the Museum of Imaginative Knowledge, he is not speaking at the conference but his work ties in with some of our themes. To find out more, read on.

How and why do we give value to objects? The Museum’s collection is very wide, covering the areas of local history, contemporary archaeology and classificatory art, but what unites it is finding a place for those things which do not meet the current cultural norms.

Harvard Jars

Thus there is the world’s largest one pence piece collection, and a series of jars filled with coloured water which date from before the First World War. Both (as does much of the Museum’s collections) come from the area around the English-Scottish border. And one thing which is of particular interest is the idea of memory value – that many objects have narratives which we often have no idea about.

Judley Hall

Much of my research so far has been at Judley Hall, a decaying country house in the Borderlands. In such places, there is often a breakdown of time and space which allows the accumulation of objects which might otherwise be ignored or discarded. With around 45 rooms, Judley Hall has been inhabited by the same family for nearly 300 years. While the tapestries, oil paintings and taxidermy have all been sold off, there remains what is best described as ‘heirloom detritus’. One  area of interest is the contents of drawers. This one pictured contains the remnants of the family’s map collection, as well as other assorted items. I am currently working on a detailed piece of analysis of this drawer and several others, which provide a microcosm of life in a country house in the late 20th century.

Drawer contents

In the Museum, whether it be in person or online, I aim to present to viewers a slightly different view of the world, and the relationships we have with objects, in what I hope is an enlightening and entertaining manner. I am, of course, always interested in discussing the themes mentioned above and would be keen to undertake some kind of sustained collaborative project in the near future.


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