Cabinets of curiosity

	Haim Steinbach Untitled (graters, Victorian iron banks) 1990
  • 	Haim Steinbach Untitled (graters, Victorian iron banks) 1990
  • 	Alex Rizkalla Remains/vestiges: dispersal 1993
  • 	Fiona Hall Cash crop 1998
  • 	Janet Laurence The matter of nature 2000

Questions and activities

  • Each of these artworks contain some kind of collection. Look at each work and list the objects you can see. What unites these objects? Collect items from your classroom and create several collections under the categories colour, shape and texture. Consider ways to display your collections. Give each one a title and design a cabinet in which to display them.
  • Are the objects in each of these works personally linked to the artist? Were they made by the artist? Choose the object you find most interesting in each of the works and explain why.
  • Why do you think people collect things? What do collections tell us about the collector and the world in which they live? List some of the things you have collected. What might your collection tell people about you and your world?
  • Describe the way each of these works has been displayed. Is it typical of how artworks are usually presented in an art gallery? Compare these displays to those you might see in a history museum. Why do you think different presentation methods are used?
  • List the items that Fiona Hall has carved in Cash crop. Each carving has a label which includes a Latin name and an economic term. Why might we associate food with economics? Using soap carving or clay, model various food items and display them in groups according to taste, size, country of origin or where they sit on a nutritional 'food pyramid’.