Susan Wright, A Cabinet of Curiosities?

Cabinet with various objects displayed with numbered labels. (2018) Wooden cabinet, plaster, rubber, mirror pieces, sponges, fabric, ceramic, glass picture frames.


Monoprints displayed as a banner (2018) Japanese Kozo paper, waste plastic.


This archive, displayed as a collection, displays objects that seem to be fragments of ephemera produced from an unnamed society.  The museum-like cabinet acts as an indicator which implies that they come from a different time or place.

It is a selective view of the Helen Storey Foundation Archive, a collection of items that may or may not be historical or valuable. Are they actual ‘preserved’ objects or traces from the collection, transformed over time? Perhaps they are manufactured, representing an allegorical trace of the archive. Marks and traces of images and materials can be seen. Stacks of solidified paper hold images which give a glimpse of their previous meaning and use but can’t be read. Fresco like panels display images which are intriguing but open to interpretation.  “Fossilised’ fabrics reveal their structure showing embossed marks and shapes made by seams, ornamentation and fastenings. Prints of fragile, sheer materials confuse as they hold on to indestructible plastic. Do these traces and prints represent fragments of an archive or an indication of a future to come?

Having a knowledge of the Helen Storey Foundation Archive allows us to understand something about what this work represents. However, our own personal set of experiences allows for a multitude of interpretation about what we see. Each experience with these fragments alters the view of what it is and what they mean. We all add to this archive by personally interpreting what the objects are and then passing on information about them through by word of mouth and writing. Archives tell others about who we are or were, yet their interpretation is serendipitous, we select from them what we wish.

It raises the question about how the archive will be interpreted in the future and questions how, with very little information, we interpret actual archeological fragments and the societies they represent.


In terms of sustainability, the cabinet is second hand, the sponges are synthetic – not natural, the mirrors are recycled. The plaster casts and ceramic plates are also recycled from my own earlier work. The fragments of paper in the framed prints are handmade, recycled paper.