The collector: Lee Hewett, artist and designer, Nottinghamshire (UK).
The collection: bouncy balls.
Tell us the story behind your collection…
It started when studying for my MA in Product design, I’d been collecting bouncy balls for an installation I was thinking of doing and the more I collected the more I became fascinated by their variety and quirkiness and ended up buying them whenever I saw them. Soon word got around about my odd collection and friends and relatives started buying them for me, the collection just grew from there. I guess the collection peaked when it was used as part of an exhibition of ephemeral products at the university.
What is it you like about them?
They’re kitsch, cheap, colourful and best of all when you chuck’em they bounce. I love the variety of designs they come in, not just the range of colours and material variation but the objects and scenes that are incorporated into the heart of the ball. I also like the idea that somewhere out there is a room full of bouncy ball designers racking their brains to concoct the next amazing bouncy ball.
How long have you been collecting them?
Most of the balls were collected over a couple of years. I do occasionally buy the odd one now and then if it’s a real corker.
How many do you have?
At one point I had around 200+ different bouncy balls although the number is gradually decreasing as my daughter finds them and destroys them by lobbing them around my studio.
Where is your collection kept?
I used to have some them displayed on shelves in my studio but as space ran out they have been relegated to a carrier bag.
Do you have a favourite?
I don’t have a particular favourite, but I do love the balls with embedded objects and scenes.
Is there anything missing from your collection that you're still searching for?
I don’t really collect in that way. I have no idea what wonderous bouncy ball is out there waiting for me, but I guess I’ll love it when I find it.
Do you have any other collections?
I have collected lots of things over the years, my favourite collections include vintage wallpaper, whitefriars/20th century glass & John Hinde postcards which have almost all been sourced from carboot sales, charity shops & ebay. Nowadays I tend to collect things with my daughter, we’re building up a collection of Lego Minifigures, we’ve currently got around 30.
Is your collection out of control?
Depends what you mean by out of control, I recently took the some of my collection to work on a packed bus and didn’t think to put it in a sealed bag; so when the bus braked sharply the bag toppled over and about 100 balls scattered over the floor . With the help of some of the other rather amused and bemused passengers on the bus I manage to save most of them.
Are you obsessed?
I was, but I recovered.
Images © Helen Powell with the kind permission of Lee Hewett.