Museum of Broken Relationships


Written by Betty Wood
Photos and illustrations by Seven Dials, Museum of Broken Relationships, Alice Ralph
21 Sunday 21st August 2011

Before you strike that match, think on. This month from 15 August until 4 September Seven Dials play host to the award winning exhibition, the Museum of Broken Relationships which includes items contributed by the lovelorn members of Camden’s community. Showcasing a series of ordinary, but emotionally loaded objects, each item tells the personal story of a doomed relationship from the point of view of the jilted.

Crumbling, rejected love-gnome.

They always say divorce hits the kids hardest, and this 'Divorce Day Mad Dwarf' attests to that. Used as a weapon against his owner's ex-husband, as he closed the gate closed on his former home, she picked up the hapless gnome and watched as "at that moment it flew over to the windscreen of [his] new car, rebounded and landed on the asphalt surface." Whoops.

Nothing says "I love you" quite like an axe.

They do say "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" – this axe is testament to that. After three weeks working abroad, the donor of this item returned to find their girlfriend had fallen in love with another woman. Their response? “I bought this axe at Karstadt to blow off steam and to give her at least a small feeling of loss...” 'Loss' in the same sentence as the word ‘axe’? Sounds ominous…

Worry not; rather than chop off their cheating ex-girlfriend’s legs, this donor did something slightly more legal - they hacked the legs off her table and chairs instead; “in the 14 days of her holiday, every day I axed one piece of her furniture. I kept the remains there, as an expression of my inner condition. The more her room filled with chopped furniture…the better I felt”. If an object can tell you a lot about a relationship, then perhaps the stories that accompany them can go a long way to explaining why these people wanted to break up in the first place?

This moving item was donated by an Armenian woman in her 70s looking back on her experiences of love as a young woman.

Some funny, some sad, all the objects tell a personal tale of love and loss. The most moving item in the collection we found was this. A simple postcard, hand coloured, the item itself says little of its history. But the story itself will make even the hardest-hearted shed a tear; gifted by a 70 year old woman, she goes on to say the postcard was "inserted through the slit of my door a long time ago by the son of our neighbours. He had been in love with me for three years. Following the old Armenian tradition, his parents came to our home to ask for my hand. My parents refused saying that their son did not deserve me. They left angry and very disappointed. The same evening, their son drove his car off a cliff..."

The award-winning Croatian exhibition is a curious blend of voyeurism and social commentary showing just how bizarre the facets of love can be. The main collection will be exhibited at The Tristan Bates Theatre on Tower Street whilst a smaller section is being displayed at a pop-up space (38 Earlham Street). Not to be outdone, Urban Outfitters, Coco de Mer, Tatty Devine and TSHIRT STORE are also sharing the love as they host window displays from the collection in the local area.

One of the slightly more bizarre items in the collection.

A work in progress, you can add your own token of lost love to the collection; click here for more details.

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