Collecting: Lisa Congdon




When I first thought of this series of collecting, Lisa Congdon was one of the first people I thought of from seeing her collections pop up on flickr every once in a while. This girl not only creates beautiful art, she has some amazing collections too and a real talent for displaying them. After seeing these photos, I am craving collecting even more so than before. I think I could spend hours floating about her home, taking it all in. Here are her thoughts:

You have so many collections. Why do you collect? I have been a collector since I was a kid. I have different collections now than I did 30 years ago, but the part of me that yearns innately to gather “like items” and display them has always been pretty active. I didn’t ever become consciously aware of myself as a “collector” until I read Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover in 1992 when I was 24. The novel centers on a character called the Cavaliere who is a collector. I remember that when I read this book I realized for the first time that there was such a person as a “collector” and that I might be one of “them.” Once I self-identified, my habit definitely solidified because being a “collector” became a conscious part of my identity, as opposed to a quirky habit.





How do your collections usually start?
I have had about 30-40 different collections since the time I was 8 years old. I have sold many of them as my interests have changed over the years. Portions of my early childhood collections live at my mother’s house in the guest room. For the past 25 years, I’ve typically collected things that are somewhat challenging to acquire but common enough that they are not terribly expensive or completely impossible to find at thrift stores, flea markets or antique malls. The challenge associated with collecting is part of what keeps many of us collectors going. I collect things that appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities and passions. Many have a sense of history or mystery to them. I usually have about 15-20 collections at any one time. I cannot even begin to name all of them. Right now, my main “active” collections are:
-tiny vintage photographic portraits
-vintage ephemera including postage stamps
-three-dimensional typographical E’s previously used for signage
-orange pottery
-vintage mid-century Scandinavian/Japanese/French kitchenware
-vintage (mostly plastic) religious icons
There are many more than this, but sometimes I stop collecting things when I feel that I have enough. So while I have many “collections” in my home, there are several I do not actively add to anymore. My owls and tiny globes are a good example of that.




How do you display them?
I think collections are the most beautiful when they are displayed together. So most of my collections are displayed amongst each other. Some of my collections, like my E’s, are sort of dispersed throughout my house. My stamps, which I also use in my collage work, are organized by color, as is all of my vintage ephemera which is housed at my studio and not in my house.





Where do you find most of what you collect?
Like most avid collectors, I go regularly to thrift stores and flea markets. Occasionally I peruse Ebay, but I find it more enjoyable to find what I collect by physically looking for it. It’s more work, but it really satisfies the “archeologist” in me. When I was a kid, I went through a period of wanting to be an archeologist. The whole notion of digging through the riff raff to find special items has always appealed to me.




What is most satisfying about collecting?
Finding and displaying, of course!


Jan Halvarson

18 comments:

IMEDAGOZE said...

how envious. Lisa's collectibles are amazing, and the way she displayed them is simply superb!

Sidsel_._ said...

great collections & a great theme .) Please consider to change your use of font/type - its so hard to read capital letters - and when they are centred it´s even harder, please, please - ´cause I love your blog and wish to read every word...
all the best

Vanda said...

What a wonderful, wonderful post! Ms. Congdon's eye for composition really is outstanding!

So, thanks for this :)

cartolina said...

Beautiful displays - and lovely photography too. A fantastic collection!

Joanna Goddard said...

ooh, i love those art walls. beautiful.

degan said...

wow, what a beautiful post! i love the idea of collecting and lisa certainly is a master. i think my favorite are the E's....

shelly said...

I love the array of organized art. For some, it is very difficult to hang one piece of art let along put together something as creative as all this.
My past I've been an art rep for both commercial art and fine art --- so I've seen a lot of things. I'm open minded to just about all art unless it's really offensive. To each is own they say and these statements truly ignite the individual personalities with such great taste. It takes a special eye and hand.
To make it easier for some, a simple hint would be to boil it down to scale and whether you want symmetry or not.

If you want symmetry,you can purchase frames all the same size. The scale is harder to do but just try to puzzle it all together with possibly three different sizes and then fit it together if you are doing a wall piece. Placing objects, small, tall, taller always works for me - the same for the width should not be too far out of line.
That may confuse you more possibly.
If so, just keep working on it until you stand back and go, "Yah!"

f. pea said...

wow, i admire beautifully displayed collections. now i am itching to go to the thrift shop!!

AlicePleasance said...

Really impressive, great collection.
I love your blog and the collecting series is a wonderful idea :-)

poppy said...

sidsel, what browser are you using?

Katrina said...

absolutely gorgeous. i love how lisa's design aesthetics are consistent from art to craft to collecting and home furnishings. so inspiring!

Annika Sandin said...

Lovely collections Lisa. You must have the biggest house ever! :)

jen said...

beautiful! lisa's displays are museum quality for sure.

does anyone know where the green and black "it is okay for me to have everything i want" print/poster is from?

Anonymous said...

jen, it's a print by Anthony Burrill. Google him and you will find his shop.
lisa c

Maj said...

Ah - yes, collections! You are so right, they deserve to be seen! What beautiful collections you have chosen here!

lisa s said...

a girl after my own heart!!

MindBites.com said...

What an amazing post! I really enjoyed reading about your collections and I loved the pictures. I think that a lot of people really would love to know where to start a collection, how to think about it.. more ways to display collections, the psychology of it. I liked how you said that you go after things that are a somewhat of a challenge to find. Very cool.

jen said...

amazing. amazing. amazing!!!

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