Mementoes & Other Curiosities

The Farmiloes Building, 34 St John St, London, EC1
June 2004

Mementoes & Other Curiosities brought together a group of artists who had been invited to interpret and engage with the space in order to create a unique dialogue between their work and the building.

It was curated and organised by Measure and Flora Fairbairn in partnership with the London Architectural Biennale 2004 and Museum of London.

Blurring the line between historical documentation and the artists’ work, Mementoes created a rich mix of dark, playful interventions and intriguing scenarios. Evocative objects and documents were found as the visitor explored the spaces. Slights of narrative woven through them, gave hints of events, characters and the stories that bound them. Whether real or imagined, art or history these collected artefacts had a common aim to beguile, charm and twist the perception of the audience.

A grand old building of Portland stone and Aberdeen granite, it was one of the strongest buildings of its type at the time of its construction in 1868 and the streets finest example of Victorian architecture. The innovative design of the strengthened foundations has since afforded it special status by English Heritage.

The first floor offices with their imposing dark wood frames and grubby glass provide an excellent arena in which to present this work. Walking around you could feel the echoes of the people who worked there over the decades. With discarded belongings and unwanted furniture scattered around the building, it had a feeling of calm disquiet.

The Museum of London documented the history of the company and building. Presenting documents, photographs and first hand accounts, a fascinating record of the Farmiloe’s changing fortune through the latter part of the 19th century and beyond was displayed. Development of the company due to social and technological advances, the advent of WW1, and the corresponding decades of change told the tale of one of London’s most successful businesses of the day.

Click here to view the exhibition leaflet in our publications archive.

With grateful thanks to the Farmiloe Family.