The use of objects within participatory work is a mechanism through which to engage with people and to explore their relationship with their neighbourhood and with others. Re-presenting ‘lost and found’ or made objects creates curiosity and intrigue, and shows how the seemingly every-day can be intriguing and can make connections between people… often strangers.
Places change, but urban neighbourhoods change more often, and this has great effect upon people’s psychological and physical experiences. Objects can be personal and intimate, they can be gifts, can be lost and then found, and can have emotional resonance. Juxtapose different objects and promote conversation and you have the possibility to create new dialogue and new and varied relationships. The exploration of the relationships between objects can be used as a powerful metaphor that enable people to converse in an imaginative process of mutual exchange. We see objects differently as we see places differently – one object but different meanings, different viewpoints, different angles, different history. People can learn to share their different interpretations of the environment through interpretation of the object, and this has the potential to be a process of mutual benefit. The key is to recognise any ‘exchange’ or sharing process as a valuable and useful end in itself and a potential ‘construct’ or structure itself of ideas, thoughts, memories, stories, reactions, opinions, responses, that if recorded or ‘captured’ become a framework for further development – whatever that development might be.