The Curiosity Cabinets as a place of gathered objects have a long & dynamic history stretching back to the 1500s. (also known as Kunstkabinett, Kunstkammer, Wunderkammer, Cabinets of Wonder, and wonder-rooms, filled with ‘art marvels’)
The modern development of these ‘wonder rooms’ are the museums and collections of objects that seemingly litter institutions, separated, sterilized and categorized – but originally these rooms were filled with ‘unicorn horns’ and saints relics, skeleton forms of unknown creatures and mysterious trinkets from unmapped locationThese wonders of the world were being brought back in an attempt to understand something of the unknown as human beings began to move beyond known landscapes. The gathered objects were rarely labeled and so myth and reality, fact and fiction would collide and fuse, stories would be told, myths created and a microcosm built, a world in miniature. There was something chaotic, haphazard about the cabinets: objects thrown together that would not normally sit side by side in our clean, modernist ideal of order. The Curiosity Cabinets seem to be a reflection of the inner psychic patterns of the human experience. The human mind is overtly curious about uninhibited collections, the visual chaos that stimulates imagination with the curiosity for multiple references gathered into single locations has moved onto the internet, with locations like Pinterest and Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler gathering the bizzare, colourful, and intriguing. Little was labeled, spiking our mind with questions that build into stories.
What is fact and what is fiction within a landscape such as the web, a landscape such as our minds?
These WonderKammers, these Cabinets of Curiosity that have found their way into Sand Bar Manchester have originated from global tours and expeditions Mayhew has made with his work, from cross-continent explorations to living in villages, towns and cities in multiple countries searching for ideas, generating new Music, Art & Performance – Mayhew literally M A P s living experiences with a dynamic collectivity in art making.
This installation of a collection that has been brought from Mayhew’s studio (art) in Whalley Range has been made possible by Sand Bar’s belief in the idea, and Mayhew would like to thank Ash Wright for the commitment made to something as random and possibly something so spatially defining as the cabinets.