On display: 30 years of children's confiscated toys and collectibles
On display: 30 years of children’s confiscated toys and collectibles

The Museum of Childhood is set to become home to Guy Tarrant’s Confiscation Cabinets, an exhibition displaying an array of artefacts that have been taken from children in London schools.

The collection provides a retrospective look at the evolution of toys and children’s collectibles over the past three decades, tracking the movement from action  gures and toy cars to mobile phones and cyber-pets.

It also functions as a social commentary addressing issues such as the impulse towards rebellion and resistant behaviour across primary and secondary schools in the London area.

Having worked as a teacher in over 150 state schools in the capital, Guy Tarrant has always been interested in pupil interactions and the ways that children reject and evade rules.

“The effect of the exhibition has always been one of intrigue and reflection,” he says. “The items in the cabinets are very varied and involve aspects of resistance in all their many guises.”

While some of the cult toys and games give a throwback feel to this collection, Tarrant introduces an element of danger through the homemade weaponry taken from pupils. He explains: “The exhibition does contain threatening items, of course the act of confiscation implies by its very nature items to be deemed inappropriate to classroom learning and capable of creating lesson disorder.”

“Of course, the inclusion of weapons does appear to demonstrate an extreme level of aggressive behaviour. Often though, these items are used in a more gestural nature of bravado rather than in a specifically intentional act of
violence.”

Visitors will also be able to view notes passed in class between children, such as one that reads: ‘Do you still want to be my friend? If so tick here, if not put an X’.

While some traits appear not to have changed, Tarrant expresses some concern about the matter of progression in behaviour.
“I do believe children’s behaviours have become markedly more aggressive over time, and that our schools’ environments have been slow to adapt to these changes,” he says.

Confiscation Cabinets is at the V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA from 9 November 2013 – 1 June 2014

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