Buttons and Found Stuff

London is an enormous city and yet, at its heart, it can be walked. Just across the Thames, near St Paul’s, via the millennium pedestrian bridge, is the Tate Modern. Walking across this bridge, southward, I found, a large, dark blue, plastic, four-hole button.

Henry Tate made his wealth out of solving the biggest problem facing his age: how to make sugar into cubes. He donated a fortune to art. Fittingly, the Tate Modern contains lots of aesthetic sugar cubes that we just must taste before we die.

Of special interest, to me, is a collection of small found objects. These objects were taken, from the tidal flats of the Thames, near the gallery. Broken clay pipes, bibs and bobs and other stuff fill drawer after glass covered draw.

I place my found button on the outside of the glass of drawer number one, push the drawer back in, then wait for someone to discover the new button.

A young man and his girl friend are first to find my button. He is fascinated; she grows worried: they leave the button where it is and
close the drawer. Like a bottle with a message dropped into an outgoing tide, the button is on its journey.

Without a Tate Modern everywhere I go, I have started to use hotel drawers as my own trouveau stores. I take a photograph of my finds on
departure and imagine what the housekeeper will make of my arrangements.

Buttons and Found Stuff

Keith Russell

Newcastle, Australia

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