Several years ago, I started picking up shopping lists that I found discarded at the supermarket. I’m not entirely sure why. I like the idea of found art, but I don’t often find interesting objects.
But I find shopping lists. And I find them interesting. They offer a glimpse into the life of strangers - rather like looking at the contents of someone’s trolley and making assumptions about how they live. But these strangers are never actually seen. Instead, I have these handwritten notes about some of the minutiae of their daily lives.
The orange one specifies ‘Love Life chicken’ (Love Life is a Waitrose brand), but no other brands. The one on the right wants olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. The one at the bottom seems to have split their shopping into two parts – some from Iceland, some from elsewhere, and the large one lists all the meals for the week, and some very specific ingredients (“700g bottle of passata”, “fillets cod (frozen) not battered”), which makes me wonder if it was written for someone else to do the shopping.
These are just the most recent four, so entirely random. Some of the others I stuck in a book, and then I started sticking in my own too. I think I kept about a year’s worth, but as I don’t always write a list, that’s not as many as you might think. Long before I started collecting them, my husband and I started to write joke items on our shopping lists. For some reason, ‘plankton’ and ‘krill’ became regular items on the list. At other times, greed takes over and I write something like ‘a lot of nice cake’. I also add doodles while I’m thinking. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever found one as idiosyncratic as my own.