Studio 16: Souvenir

Studio brief


This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts (postcards / photographs / war memorials / landscapes / gardens / tourist trophies / Victorian hair jewellery / mementos / family heirlooms / eBay bargains). It seeks to address the gaps between those private, small objects – the ephemera of everyday life which are often associated with the intimate spaces of the body – and the grander projects of the public body, often artefacts of enduring commemoration. Souvenirs are both traces of highly personal experiences and part of a growing nostalgia industry that is fed by the acts and artefacts of collective remembering.

Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities

  • Baerenholdt, J O, Framke, W, Haldrup, M, Larsen, J and Urry, J (2004) Performing tourist places, Farnham: Ashgate. 
  • Batchen, G (2004) ‘Ere the substance fade: photography and hair jewellery’ in Edwards, E and Hart, J Photographs, objects, histories: on the materiality of images, London: Routledge. 
  • Baudrillard, J (1996) The System of objects, London: Verso. 
  • Kwint, M, Breward, C and Aynsley, J (eds) (1999) Material memories: design and evocation, Oxford: Berg. 
  • Nora, P (1989) ‘Between memory and history: Les Lieux de mémoire’, Representations, 26: 7-25. 
  • Shapton, L (2009) Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Leonore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewelry, London: Bloomsbury. 
  • Stewart, S (1993) On longing, Durham and London: Duke University Press. 

Films to watch: 

  • Terence Davies (dir.) Of Time and the City, 2008. 
  • Grant Gee (dir.) Innocence of Memories, 2015. 


  • Try mudlarking on the Thames in search of accidental souvenirs 
  • Have a look at Mark Dion’s work from Tate

Image: Rachel Whiteread, Installation, Tate Britain

A view of an installation work that comprises 100 coloured resin cubes


Tutor Lesley Stevenson

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