Shopping Lists

Project Statement

Early in my life I was captivated by ephemera having come across a shopping list on the ground that I was not allowed to pick up. It was written on a tea box, the letters were deeply etched into the cardboard by the force of the handwriting. The image of that list never left me. Then decades later, in Italy, I rode my bike past a green lined piece of paper on the ground with a shopping list written in red ink. The rain had made the ink splotchy, and I passed it several times before I stopped my bike to pick it up. 

These shopping lists are like secret windows into the lives of people. I would have thought that across countries and people the lists would contain the same items – bread, butter, milk – but instead, I have been intrigued to see lists that include all manner of weird and wonderful things. You could tell a story about the people who make these shopping lists. I began collecting the lists in a box, thinking they would make their way into my pottery, but instead, I decided to document the collection through photography.

The intimacy of the lists, the tactile sense of the different papers and inks used, the handwriting and the languages come alive in each photograph. The more lists I have documented the more I realise that rather than satisfying our need for staple items, each list reveals an individual and a window into their daily lives. Collectively, these shopping lists come together in micro chapters as part of a larger and complex narrative of our mundane yet fascinating lives.