"Collecting, arranging and cataloguing objects is a worldwide human need, as though by listing and imposing order on everything in a seemingly chaotic world we can somehow control it. But even as we categorise an object we change it - the act of seperating it from its original place and purpose creates an altered state; the innate sense and meaning of an object is restructured by this very act of seperation and classification.
The objects in a museum colection, be they prehistoric arrow heads, greek sculptures or shaker chairs, can never again be what they once were. The process of selection has transformed them into artefacts and they forever after form part of the recorded history and heritage of humankind.
But there doesn't have to be a deliberate attempt to mould the world into a shape we can more easily cope with. Simply storing items so that they can be quickly found again can create a sequence, a visual pattern, which itself becomes something complete and whole for no other reason than we like the look of it. The objects themselves may or may not be functional.
Steven Follen's early work included wooden boxes of compartmented trays each containing an individual found object such as a tiny seed, bone, shell or pebble. Looking at a collection of his recent coiled vessels one is reminded of this blurring of the distinction between object and artefact, function and abstraction. They have an air about them of being long lost functional items which were cast aside at the end of their perceived life only to be discovered centuries later, presented and venerated by a society very different from that which produced them, and for very different reasons.
It is due to the deep understanding Steven Follen has for his materials and their origins that he is able to create this effect of timelessness and imbue his work with such a sense of elemental history. Having worked with ceramics as well as metal...he can apply techniques typical of one medium to the other...
The pieces are constructed by wrapping and cladding wooden forms with a range of steel stock, including wire and closely fitting strips. Intricate and complex textures result directly from the process of fusing together the metal using welding and braising. Surface treatments, oxides, pigments and patinas accentuate these qualities.
Placed singly or grouped together, they have a presense evoking past and present. They are full of personal meaning for the maker and trigger questioning exploration for the observer - artefacts of the best kind."
Catalogue Introduction. 'Minute by Minute'
The Pearoom, Lincolnshire.
Collecting / Sample boxes
"I have always collected things; souvenir shells from a holiday, a pebble from a walk on the beach or a twig from a walk on the Sussex Downs, they are all different types of treasure.
I found a box for storing microcroscope slides at a junk market back in 1989, the small compartments gave me a platform for containing and ordering the things I collect on my journeys."
The boxes and trays serve a number of purposes:
Souvenirs of a journey, a place or a time."
Maps (not like the cartographers) of a place; capturing colours, materials and the seasons;
Three dimensional sketchbooks containing textures, shapes and forms which feed and inspire other work in metal.
The collecting and arranging of found materials has often been used as a starting point for projects, like the Berwick Woods Project. Berwick Woods
South Downs Series
Hove Museum purchased one of the 'collections' or 'sample' boxes for the South East Arts Applied Arts Collection.
During the 'lock-downs' as part of the Covid 19 pandemic the Collections Box was used to inspire creative thinking as part of a series of lockdown craft projects.
Learn more about this here: Lockdown Craft Challenge