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Pastime Paradise: New exhibition aims to celebrate Britain's love of hobbies

Crochet, the ultimate hobby
Crochet, the ultimate hobby Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Jonny Walfisz
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All hobbies and pastimes are welcome for this bold new UK exhibition by Artangel and Hetain Patel


A new art project is collecting the many hobbies of Brits. Whether you’re a stamp collector, a tea-cosy knitter, or a flaming juggler, all the ways people in the UK blow off steam are going to be collected for a project that aims to celebrate what people do with their pastimes.

It’s a project run by English visual artist Hetain Patel, who is known for his multimedia pieces on identity and culture. At first, Patel wanted to create a piece dedicated to his own hobby - collecting Spider-man costumes - into one exhibition space.

When Patel dug down into what made his own fascination with Spider-man interesting with Mariam Zulfiqar, the director of arts organisation Artangel, the pair pivoted to make the project about hobbies in general.

From terrarium building to woodwork, all hobbies are welcome
From terrarium building to woodwork, all hobbies are welcomeCanva

The Hobby Cave asks Britons to send in the details of their hobby, no matter what it is, via a form on their website. From the results, Patel and Artangel will create an exhibition that recognises the pastimes people take up for no greater purpose than personal pleasure.

Aiming to be the biggest exhibition of hobbies the UK has ever staged, Patel wants to know about “all the amazing things you create in your spare time, from the arts and crafty to the nerdy to the techie and beyond.”

He cited car modification, crochet and origami as examples of the many hobbies Britons enjoy. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Patel pointed out the revolutionary nature of hobbies, as a pastime that is neither connected to labour nor defined by its desire for artistic recognition. “There’s gatekeeping and pressures and judgements, so it's important that this project isn't just a nod to the art world. It’s the hobbyists that are at the heart of it,” he explains.

Artangel is an award-winning arts organisation based in London that has, since 1991, been behind many of the UK’s most celebrated works, including Turner Prize-winning ‘House’ by Rachel Whiteread in 1993.

Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread with her 2005 work 'Embankment'
Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread with her 2005 work 'Embankment'Alastair Grant/AP

Speaking about the high-art connotations of the organisation focusing on hobbies, Zulfiqar said: “I think it's easy to look back on Artangel's portfolio of work and say, well, of course that's art. But at the time it was really groundbreaking; it completely transformed the language by which we were prepared to talk about and understand what the art of the museum or gallery looked like.”

The submissions portal is open for people to send in their hobbies now.

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