Written by: Louise Brown of www.morrisbrown.com.au

It has been part of our nature to seek and store since man stood upright and took those first few steps.  Back then, it was all about survival and it was generally the case of he who has the most (and who could run the fasted) did generally win.  Looking back right through history, religion and kingdoms, the need to collect has driven men to the edge of civilization and back.  Returning knights and soldiers from the Crusades bought back relics from ancient lands. Treasure hunters were sent all over the world to collect everything from tulips, butterflies, camellias and rhinos, as well as countries to colonise...

Today, despite all the technology, all the gadgets and gizmos and all the ability to live life in the most sterile and minimalistic way, still many, many of us are drawn to collect, to hoard, to hide what special thing that nourishes our soul... 

The popularity of the show American Pickers shows just how many of us dream of finding that 'something' in an old shed far off the beaten track, and who could forget Friday nights on the ABC, watching The Collectors.  A whole secret world of collections was revealed there...

How do you gain the title of collector, or curator? How do you go from having just one, ordinary non descript salt and pepper vials to owing dozens?  Why do I find the need to have several (ok, maybe more than several!) galvanized watering cans?  In fact anything made of that most humble metal makes me very, very excited.  

But, collecting can be controversial: we always buy dolls heads or body parts when we find them, and boy do people react to those!  There is a definite love them or hate them response!  Some people are out and proud collectors, while others will sidle up and talk to you from the corner of their mouths, gangster style, not wanting to announce too loudly what they are looking for, in case someone else gets it first.  At collectors and antique fairs, there is almost a secret society at play; the seller will have his wares for display, but when a fellow enthusiast arrives, the dance of show me yours and I will show you mine, is played out, generally with a happy conclusion for all...

Model cars, trains, boats and aero planes, old cameras and binoculars, silk ties and top hats, taxidermy and old charts, musty ancient books and ledgers that are time are timekeepers of the past: so many objects to lust after. 

But isn't all about spending money on "things".  Some of the collections I treasure most are the ones that nature provides; sticks, stones, nests, eggs and feathers.  Some people collect precious pieces from the shoreline, while others collect insects and stones.  Often, a walk can yield the beginnings of a whole new world, the only advice I would give is to follow in the footsteps of that wise gardener Edna Walling; everything always looks better in odd amounts...

Sometimes, collecting creeps up on you, you find the face of an old garden gnome appealing, and before you know it, you have a family waving at you every morning, from outside the kitchen window.  It can be induced by a childhood memory: whenever I pick up an old leather bound transistor radio, I am back in my dads' shed, watching him potter around on Saturday afternoon listening to Bill Collins call the races...we often have people in the shop reminisce as they pick up an object that has significance from their past.

So where do you go in the Valley to find the next addition to your collection.  Yarra Glen Main Street has a great array of antique shops, catering for a wide range of tastes, while over in Healesville, The Wildlife Shop and Warehouse Antics may be able to sort you out.  And, of course, morris brown as well!  Then, there are the multitudes of op shops where you may just strike it lucky!!  If you are in need of inspiration, our Pinterest Collections Board may spark a whole new direction!!

My only advice is go with gusto!!

Happy hunting!!!