Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crocuses and collecting

click photo to enlarge
Obsessive collecting seems to feature in many people's (especially men's) lives, firstly between the ages of seven and twelve, and later when they are in their forties. Psychologists see the amassing of groups of similar objects as a way of the individual both identifying him or herself and establishing a kind of control over their environment. The French sociologist, philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), describes the urge to collect as the  the desire for "a mental realm over which I hold sway, a thing whose meaning is governed by myself alone."

All collectors have a liking for the individual things that they collect, be they thimbles, tractors, guitars, old tools, maps, Star Wars toys, or whatever. However, for the obsessive collector each particular object eventually becomes much less important than the idea of the complete set, and the totality of the collection becomes the focus. Of course, completing a collection  leads to a kind of ennui because the point of the exercise disappears. That's why it is unusual for a true collector to buy a complete collection of anything; to do so would deprive him of the the thrill of the chase.

What has this got to do with my photograph of a clump of purple crocuses? Well, unusually for a man, I acquired an interest in flowers, particularly wild flowers, as a young boy, and it has stayed with me throughout my life. My primary school teachers lit the fire of my interest, but Brooke Bond tea was the fuel that caused it to burn brightly. More specifically the card collections of wild flowers that they produced and included with their tea packets in the 1950s and early 1960s. There were three or four series and I collected them, swapped them and tried to complete a collection. I failed, but in the process learnt how to identify many of the native species, quite a few of which could be found in my area of the Yorkshire Dales. Moreover, the cards also fed my pre-adolescent urge to collect things. As a consequence, all these years later, I find myself taking an interest in the flowers we plant in the garden as well as the wild species that we see during our walks. And, as you can see if you come here often, I regularly take photographs of them.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm macro
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/20 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On