Collected, classified and then carefully displayed in glass cabinets: it is easy to think of museums as being full of ‘dusty old objects’ that no longer mean anything to anyone still living. Once part of someone’s everyday life, all kinds of objects and artefacts now sit mutely in cases. Some inspire the visitor’s curiosity, many will be looked over, and others will be simply over-looked as the visitor passes them by. An object that is mute for one person will startle another – like finding a long forgotten toy or remembering the name of a childhood tormentor. An object, like a smell or a sound, can stir memories. 6/24 Left 6/36 Right began as a response to a display of ‘dusty old objects’ and artefacts in the collection of the Thackray Medical Museum, in Leeds.
Graham Robinson’s visual impairment forms the basis for 6/24 Left 6/36 Right, which takes the museum and its collection, and ‘looks’ at them from his perspective. By using photographs, some of which have been digitally manipulated to simulate his view of the objects, 6/24 Left 6/36 Right attempts to ‘see’ them, not only in a physical sense, but also by depicting some of the childhood memories they evoked. 6/24 Left 6/36 Right alludes to childhood memories prompted by particular objects in the collection. It is one response to a medical museum and invites the question of how many other personal histories and ‘views’ are there to such museums. What other forgotten memories could surface, provoked by an object associated with childhood experiences? Museums are at their most pertinent when they remind us that History, especially our own personal history, is often only a ‘dusty object’ away.