(Above) Keith Lawler with some of his collection of Star Wars memorabilia
A personal collection of Star Wars memorabilia will be among the prized objects taking centre stage this summer as South Shields Museum & Art Gallery mounts an exhibition exploring the obsessive world of collecting and collections.
Gotta Have It! You and Your Collections will be at the Museum from July 18 – October 31 2009 and will feature everything from enamel advertising signs to Russian dolls – all drawn from private collections across the North East.
For Keith Lawler of Sunderland, who saw a call out for collectors while browsing the Tyne & Wear Museums website, the temptation to share his passion with a wider audience was too great to resist.
Keith and his family's various collections include Action Men, pens and Monopoly sets, but his pride and joy is his Star Wars collection.
Keith started collecting Star Wars memorabilia over 30 years ago when he used his pocket money to buy action figures from the films. Since then his collection has expanded to include helmets, books, magazines, video games and anything else that has Star Wars stamped on the outside – including commemorative cornflakes packs and soft drinks cans.
"I was nine when the first Star Wars film came out," he explains. "Maybe holding a piece of plastic, listening to a particular piece of music or playing a game just takes me back to the film and my childhood."
Keith says that Star Wars holds a special place in his heart as it was he and his wife's love of the film that brought them together. Keith's wife is also a keen collector and his son Andrew is following in the family tradition with his collection of figures.
"My son also has a Star Wars collection," reveals Keith. "But he tends to keep his on the floor in the bedroom, in the playroom, on the stairs, in the bathroom…you get the idea."
Tyne and Wear Museums are still looking for avid collectors to open up their collections for the exhibition, and say they will welcome anything from football stickers and model frogs to stamps and coins. If you have a collection you want to share call 0191 456 8740 or visit their website for more information.
Gotta Have it: You and Your Collections runs at South Shields Museum from July 18 to October 31 2009 and will be accompanied by a programme of events.