Guest Editor Profile – Ted Barker

Ted Barker

Winnipeg, Manitoba





In terms of your things, what does your space (studio/office/living area) look like?
I generally create a sprawl of objects and supplies wherever I settle. Things are cluttered and dissolve back to clutter quickly after I tidy. I like to look at things, so much of my collection is arranged on shelves and my desk or tacked on the wall. I love objects. Objects that have history have great sentimental value to myself, even if the history is unknown to me. I tend to love things that have been loved. Some things you can just tell that they were loved. Shirts that have been repaired by a needle and thread, hand made objects and things well worn. I think that’s why I love to collect old things. Often I see something in a thrift store and I can’t believe someone let it go! I need to buy it and save it and give it back the respect I think it deserves. Those things end up where I can admire them, which leads to clutter. But I’m happy with the clutter.

Where do you normally get your things?
Thrift stores, antique stores, family and friends.

What is your prize possession/”thing”/collectible/tool?

It’s hard to choose only one. I have a favorite paintbrush, a favorite photograph, a favorite piece of artwork and things that mean alot because of who gave them to me. 

However since I need to choose one outstanding object, I’ll say a box I found at a goodwill store.

It’s an incredible carved wooden box. It’s obviously very old and obviously hand made. The top and sides are carved with an odd assortment of figures and animals. On the top is carved the words “TO LIZ FROM BROTHER STEVE” which is brilliantly sentimental in a sort of naive way. I was immediately captivated by the beautiful simplicity of the gesture of carving the gift message directly onto the object. It permanently imbues it with sentiment.

The specificity of the names and the fact that it was in a thrift store, gave it an aura of sadness as well. Who were these people and what happened to them for this blatantly personal object to be discarded? It hints at an entire history of two people and their relationship. To me it is utterly captivating.

Out of all the objects I have bought second hand this was the one that needed rescue the most. It was too unique to be a left in the banality of a store.


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