Andy Warhol, so it’s said, never opened any of his post. He merely collected it up, put it in a box, and when that box was full he sealed it and wrote the year on the top. When he died they found boxes and boxes of unopened post.
I’ve never taken the time to find out just how true this story is, but I do know that the first time I heard it, it had a profound effect on me and I wanted to do the same. However, being a somewhat deluded individual, I was fairly certain I could improve on the concept. Who, after all, would want to go through boxes of my unopened post?! Particularly when most of it would either be bills, red bills, final demands or letters from the utility companies informing me that I’d been cut off. I wanted my boxes to be full of interesting stuff.
And so I started to collect things. Ticket stubs mainly. Be they cinema or theatre tickets, raffle tickets, train tickets, plane tickets, pay-and-display parking tickets. But also postcards, greeting cards, thank you cards, business cards, labels, badges, old credit cards, menus, anything that was evidence of somewhere I’d been, something I’d done, or someone I’d seen or met.
I can’t remember what I did with all this junk to start with but eventually (probably in an effort to retain some sort of control over the growing mountain of rubbish) I decided to get a really large cork notice board and pin this stuff to it. And there it hung in my living room – a huge messy board packed with memories. I loved it!
A few months later, on New Year’s Day, I completed the last stage of my ‘Andy Warhol’ project by removing everything from the board, stuffing it in the largest envelope I could find, writing the year on the front in huge letters, and tossing it in the loft. A few days later I started the process again, pinning items to the board as I accumulated them.
Now, many, many years later, I have approximately twenty huge envelopes in the loft, each one with a year written on the front, and each one packed with papery mementoes. Do I ever look in these envelopes. No. Will I? No. What’s the point then?
The point isn’t the envelopes. The point is the board.
It’s a visual reminder of all the things I’ve done this year, and the space between the items is an opportunity to be filled with something else. When visitors come round they stand and admire the board. It’s a conversation piece. Sometimes people ask me to explain an item. Nobody ever tells me it’s a bad idea.
And when I’m tired, or feeling low, or I’m feeling a little like a hamster on a wheel, and that nothing I do ever amounts to anything, I look at the board and I realise that it’s not true. Twenty fat envelopes in my loft say otherwise.
Above is 2013’s board – just before I take everything off and get it ready for 2014 – but click here to see how it evolved over the year.
It would be great to see how your Trophy Board. I’ve created a gallery for Reader’s Trophy Boards. Tag me in your photos or send me your pictures via facebook messaging (there’s an ‘add files’ option just under the box where you write your message).
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