It’s time to prune that Odd Sock Tree

editorial image

If your house is full of - not to put to fine a point on it - junk, Glasgow-based social anthropologist Dr Zem Moffat wants to invite you to an art exhibition.

The Clutter Event at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is full of “liberated” detritus converted into art - like the Odd Sock Tree (does anybody really know where all those missing socks go?), a paper lava cascade, and the potentially scary “food from the back of the cupboard” exhibit ... to name a few.

Dr Zem Moffat.

Dr Zem Moffat.

The exhibition, from 11am till 4pm on Monday, is a way of highlighting a 21st century phenomenon which it seems was seldom a problem in past generations, when “make and mend” was a way of life for millions.

“We live in the area of stuff!”, says Zem.

“In the 20th century the developed world went rapidly from a time of hardship to a time of ‘having it all’ and ‘the throwaway society’ when we managed to accumulate more stuff than we knew what to do with.

“This eventually gave way to concerns about landfill sites, floating islands of plastic and environmental disaster –and big growth in the storage unit industry”.

Recession and (for many) austerity has seen something of a comeback for the old ways, she says, with more people finding ways of repointing instead of simply replacing items - darning socks, perhaps, instead of simply buying new pairs.

At the same time some wealthier people have embraced the trendiness of downsizing, practising “minimal living” and feng shui.

It’s no longer fashionable to flaunt your wealth by filling your house full of bling, it seems.

However it seems that in both good times and bad “clutter” is a fact of 21st century life, and not just because of laziness or slovenliness.

“Clutter is often the outcome of a busy, fast-paced, complex life full of the kind of stresses that our ancestors could barely imagine,” says Zem.

Meanwhile some of the stuff we accumulate is inevitably of the “I can’t bear to throw it away” variety - for example a dress that no longer fits, but reminds the owner of a happy occasion many years ago.

How about those book mountains that could be replaced by a Kindle?

Zem’s Simply Clear decluttering workshops aim to help people work through some of the feelings and insecurities around their unused possessions.

The ex-Clutter (now art) at Monday’s GOMA event will also be the third birthday of a Clutter Chat initiative, to celebrate the achievements of its regular members,

Zem has also produced a short video to sum up per own perspective: “The Perfect Object” ‪

Monday’s GOMA show will also feature giveaways to round off the day – possibly including that chicken (pictured).

The last thing the group want to leave in the gallery, after all, is ... clutter.