…is another man’s treasure, as they say. I know Sam Chatterton Dickson would agree.
As curator of the exhibition “says the junk in the yard”, currently at the Flowers East gallery in London E2.

Although many artists use reclaimed materials or “found objects” in their work, it is often to express something unrelated. Chatterton Dickson wanted the exhibition to reflect the things we discard as both the medium amd the message. There are contributions from around 30 contemporary artists, the individual pieces are thought provoking and sometimes surprising.

Although the gallery’s site has an excellent slideshow of the pieces on display, I’m really sorry not to be able to see them together before the end of the exhibition, on September 8th. I would love to see the work of Jason Oddy, who takes photographs of people’s apartments just after they die, as their possessions are suddenly made rubbish. There is a wonderful picture of a flat where the cooker top is stacked high with empty “Mr Kipling” cake cartons. It is kind of funny and moving as my mind struggles to fill the narrative that has been cut short by death.


Another photograph, by Sophie Gerrard, shows workers in India dismantling old electronic equipment by hand and melting down the components, such workers often becoming ill from the pollutants they are constantly exposed to. Chatterton Dickson is eloquent in expressing the way that rubbish sometimes acquires unexpected value, “Knowing what damage even recycling can do would make me think twice about throwing out a computer. It made me look at junk in a different way, seeing value in things that are dismissed as rubbish.”

Sometimes what was junk is reborn, though, and can be treasured in a different form – like Tim Lewis’s lemonade can butterfly that flaps its wings.


Some of the images have a haunting strangeness, like the mountain of old telephone dials for recycling in China’s Zhejiang province photographed by Edward Burtynsky, or David Hughes’ print of conveyor belts set against a Welsh hillside.


Even the name of the exhibition was once discarded – it is from the song “Junk”, originally intended for the Beatles’ White album, but dropped from the final selection.
“says the junk in the yard” is open from 10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday until September 8th, and I think it’ll be anything but rubbish.




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