Exercise: Nicky Bird (Question for Seller)

Nicky Bird

Nicky Bird ‘bought unwanted family photographs from eBay to create her own archive of unwanted photographs’

(Boothroyd, 2014)

Question for Seller re-situates images in a different context and in doing so allows for a new dialogue to take place. Reflect on the following:

Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?

Generally, when we think of work displayed on gallery walls we think of ‘reputable’ art. So, for someone to exhibit these ‘unwanted’ family images in this way implies that they are considered worthy of public attention; in a way that images stored in a battered old suitcase in the loft, for instance is not.

Where does their meaning derive from?

I bet we all have some old photographs at home somewhere that we cant bear to throw away even if we don’t know who the image is of anymore. There is something sacrosanct about old photographs almost as though it would be disrespectful, to the subject, to dispose of them. The meaning of these images is one that we can therefore all relate to and can agree that they should be kept and treasured. They signify that we all have a family history and a heritage that makes us what we are.

When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they are now ‘art’?

Their value is only increased if someone wants to buy them. A successful exhibition will arouse interest from individuals who may find them valuable for historical research for example and be prepared to pay an increased price for them but ultimately they are only as valuable as the demand for them. The fact that they are now ‘art’ can only increase potential buyers’ curiosity which could increase demand.



Boothroyd, S (2014) Context and Narrative, Open College of the Arts.


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