The Emotional Life of Objects

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 17:30 - 20:00

Objects are to ideas, as constellations are to stars -Walter Benjamin

Objects have lives, and people have relationships with objects. Our possessions are static witnesses to the trajectory of time, and hold traces of distant places and people, conduits to our remembering. These forms contain the fragments of histories, concrete memories of distilled life that trace the narrative of self. Through the course of our lives we come to surround and adorn ourselves with meaningful objects. In the end, our possessions outlive us. In this way, our most intimate objects are an extension of us. Our things are a self-portrait and material for contemplation, revelation and comfort.

This workshop combines facilitated discussion and simple art making process to examine the emotional relationship of people to the material world, in relation to personal lived experience and deeper self-understanding. How do the objects around us make us feel? Why do some possessions feel special? What stories do our possessions hold? What drives us to collect and how might keepsakes be supportive to our sense of self and wellbeing?

Participants are invited to bring with them a personal meaningful object, measuring no more than 20cm squared. The stories of these objects will be shared and the object documented through a simple casting process. Participants and objects will be treated with respect and every effort made to cause no damage to the object through the casting process. With permission, the cast created within the workshop will become part of the exhibition The emotional life of objects, to be convened at the George Paton Gallery, The University of Melbourne, Wednesday 3 - Friday 14 May; Closing Event, Wednesday 11th May, 5 -7pm.

Following the exhibition, cast objects will be made available for makers to collect.

The emotional life of objects is a collaborative project between the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and Master of Curatorship student Kate Richards, The University of Melbourne. This exhibition extends the Centre’s investigation of personal and communal experience of emotions across time.

To book: RSVP by 2 May 2016

For more information on this workshop, or the exhibition, please contact: Penelope Lee: or Kate Richards:

Workshop Schedule:

5:30 Registration George Paton Gallery

6:00 Introduction and exhibition talk

6:30 Sharing of objects

7:00 Casting of objects

7:30 Closing comments


Event type



George Paton Gallery, Union House, The University of Melbourne, Parkville