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MORE COLLECTING BOXES

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THE GREAT AND THE GOOD  1996

Wolverhampton city art gallery and museum collection box.
He taps the glass (of his showcase) as you approach, then leans over and peers though his magnifying glass at any donation the visitor gives him.
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The figure started life as a portrait of a victorian worthy called ‘Sir Henry Fowler’, based on the museum’s photos of him looking aloof and distainful.
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Messing about with clay, trying to decide what he should look like.
When I read the biography about his youth in India building roads, I warmed to the man, and below is the lettering on the brass plaque that accompanied the final bust.
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The brass plaque:

THE GREAT AND THE GOOD
This bust was originally intended to be a portrait of one of Wolverhampton’s Victorian capitalists, based on an old photo. I struggled for days with his expression, but he remained obstinately dead.Then I remembered a meeting of ‘The Great and the Good’ I’d been to a few years before at the Royal Society of the Arts, to discuss preliminary arrangements for the celebration of the millennium. Never before had I witnessed a gathering of such smug, self-satisfied people. With few practical ideas of their own, they seemed much more interested in yielding power and influence, organising everyone else’s ideas. I don’t often lose my temper, but incensed by the cosy atmosphere I lashed out. With such obscenely high unemployment, such obscenely high boardroom pay, such discredited, sleazy government, I questioned what there was to celebrate, and accused them of being deluded that Britain was still a world power. I still feel embarrassed by my outburst (it didn’t achieve anything and I was ignored for the rest of the meeting). However, the sanctimonious , slightly pitying expressions on the faces round the table have remained vividly imprinted on my mind ever since.

Abandoning the attempt to get an accurate likeness of the victorian capitalist, I worked with fresh zeal to distil the face of ‘The Great and the Good’ complete with appropriate gestures.I feel uneasy about it now – it seems very bitter and twisted. I just didn’t fit in with the world of ‘the great and the good’ so no wonder I felt a bit hostile. But I would never really be interested in being part of that world – I’m much happier doing practical things than waffling.


I feel uneasy about it now – it seems very bitter and twisted. I just didn’t fit in with the world of ‘the great and the good’ so no wonder I felt a bit hostile. But I would never really be interested in being part of that world – I’m much happier doing practical things than waffling.

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SEAL COUNT 1996
A collecting box for the National Trust at Blakeney point tea room

This was an attempt to make a collecting box that was a game of skill, so visitors would use it more than once. You have to press the red button every time a seal pops up from the waves – but not when a diver or submarine appears.
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  Collecting boxes                    Pitt Rivers museum Collecting Box
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