There must come a stage in a person’s life when one considers “meaning”. I must admit being drawn to the Hoarders series on Discovery. Endless episodes detail the traumatic experiences that have led to, what must be, a good proportion of Americans to literally be trapped in their houses , or trailers if it’s the South! But is the average wargamer much better? Is our collecting a barrier to life’s fulfilment? Or else are we like dinosaurs, the last of a generation that fills their lives with miniature figures that few see the beauty of? Fear not, I’ve visited the Pitt-Rivers museum in Oxford!
For a number of different reasons, the hobby has not been at the foremost of my mind recently. The whole idea of a whole room , and garage, devoted to wargaming has been questioned. Too many accusing looks fell on me as I watched Hoarders, eating Wotsits on my sofa. Do I fit the profile of a hoarder, older and neurologically challenged? Surrounded by hundreds of items, hiding in boxes; old coins, silver paper, dust and even sand? Sound familiar?
Well my room is not quite chaotic, not ordered, but not chaotic. It was Jung who noted that we can’t control the cosmos but we can control our personal space. The moment when I wanted to sell all my half started projects passed. I found an aiming point, a goal that was worthy of striving for, the ownership of things of beauty. The Pitt- Rivers museum is every collector’s dream. As one passes through the natural history section, one is struck by the most wonderful, mad, collection of “stuff” imaginable, but it’s organised, beautifully organised.
Pitt- Rivers obviously didn’t share this space with a demanding family. Nor could he have been too bothered by any limits to the collection. Next to model boats sit death masks from Indonesia, across the way from suits of armour, reside my particular favourite, the Netsuke. A massive collection, but an organised one. Every conceivable aspect of human creativity in cabinets. Inspirational!
Are we in danger of being classed as hoarders? Do we know anyone who has let their hobby become their life? Always remember that the problem is indeed solvable. Don’t suffer needlessly and stupidly. Organisation pays rich dividends and you need to visit this collection. Any collection that can juxtapose medieval hand cannons with fishing hooks is testament to the truth that any collecting can be organised and rewarding. The Pitt- Rivers museum is free to all and is just across the road from the Ashmolean Museum in central Oxford. Well worth a visit!