Day-to-Day Data
Gabrielle Sharp
Title: Losing it in London
Location: Page-based commission for the Publication

Gabrielle has created a series of three images which explore mundane statistics from within the world of the Lost and Found Department of London Transport. Her three-page spread carefully outlines, in a step-by-step manner, the system for processing and storing lost items. Her hand drawn studies of objects from the various categories and her precise, considered annotations, act as keys for deciphering what actually happens to our favourite possessions when we leave them behind on the bus.
lost items in storage at the Lost and Found Department of London Transport
lost items in storage at the Lost and Found Department of London Transport
This project began after a friend went to Tokyo and lost her diary with her life in it. She went everywhere looking for a lost property office and was told there was none. The diary was lost forever. Their ethos was that if you lose something you can go out and buy a new one; it can be ‘replaced’… Money can make it better…

Are we different? We as a nation, or so it seems, are emotionally involved with our belongings. They tell a story of who we are. Intrigued by this, I found myself at the Lost and Found Department of London Transport in Baker Street, London and was lucky enough to be taken on a guided tour.

I was astounded by the sheer quantity of lost objects and fascinated to learn that, for the first time in 70 years, the mobile phone has overtaken the umbrella as the most lost item with 1147 mobile phones and 695 umbrellas being handed in monthly. Intrigued by such statistics, I attempted to document the sense of complete order in what seemed liked utter chaos.

Data protection limits the amount of information you can access from the department and so I began by observing the sorting of the items and the ‘ID’ procedure which identifies where the item would be held. The process had begun. The ironic thing is that if the items are not catalogued in the correct manner and sorted into the right category, they become ‘lost’ again within the lost and found department, and are doomed never to be reunited with their owners. It is crucial the items are stored in such a way, which is both efficient of space and time.

It was clear to me that a filtering process was present and this followed right through to the final stage, where the items are stripped down to be sold off or destroyed. I began to see the whole process as a ‘cycle’, and have broken the following pages into different stages of the ‘treadmill’.

Gabrielle Sharp
April 2005

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