Toys are freighted with meaning. They are created by people intent simply on capturing the attention of children and the money of the adults who buy for them. But in doing so they unwittingly create a snapshot of the hopes, dreams and preoccupations of whatever era they’re working in. Their toys fix the hopes, dreams and preoccupations of a generation in the form of wood, metal, cardboard and plastic.
Then the toys enter a new phase of their existence when children play with them, and a new level of meaning is added to them, because their new owners are small human beings in the process of forming their own world view, their own memories. Just as rocks contain within them the secrets of the world in which they were created, so too, for me, toys hold within them the zeitgeist of their era.
In addition to which, they are often in themselves charming, funny, wonderfully absurd.
When I create a sculpture using them as a medium my aim is to unleash all these hidden properties by the way I juxtapose them and the context in which I place them. When I was a child visiting the seaside in the 1950’s there would often be mysterious and slightly sinister cabinets on the pier in which scenes such as fires and executions were acted out when a penny was inserted. There were also games inside glass-fronted boxes where you were invited to shoot at aliens, dangerous animals or black-hatted hatted cowboys, or operate a crane to lift tiny treasures like a bird whistles and ink-stain jokes from the hold of an aluminum ship.
All these remembered fascinations inspire me as I build my sculptures.
I hope they bring back remembered childhood days to you too.
And perhaps a little insight into what toys have to tell to us about who we are and how we got that way.