Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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Snapper captures grown up Scots with childhood toys

THE magical power of toys to shape lives has been captured in a touching new photographic exhibition.

Simon Moorhouse appealed to Scots to pose with their childhood treasures after rediscovering his first cuddly toy.


Photographer Simon Moorhouse and ‘Charlie’. He said: “She is as old as I am at the humble age of 30 years old and yes, I said she. I made a point to my parents that Charlie was a girl and not a boy for some reason. My mum, who at the time was a tailor and an avid knitter made me Charlie.”


More than 250 adults got in touch with the Edinburgh-based photographer, revealing remarkable stories about their toys – some of which even inspired careers.

Everyone Simon, 30, spoke to was determined to keep hold of their beloved items and one person even admitted to getting a new body kitted for her ted which was falling apart.


Photographer Simon as a child with his big sister


One of his favourite photos is of scientist Stewart Short and his chemistry set from the 1960s.

“Some of the stuff you would get in a chemistry set then would be illegal in a chemistry set today,” said Simon.

“The owner, Stewart, has stuff missing but some of the stuff, like the chemical powders, were just very peculiar.


Stewart Short and ‘Chemistry Set’: He said: “My chemistry set was bought for me when I was nine years old as a Christmas present. As a youngster I was fiddling with old equipment such as TV’s, Radios. I went to secondary school in an old mining village and most students my age were into football where as I like science.”


“Stewart went on to work in science, he had the kit from being about four years old, he loved science and went on to become a science technician and work with children at a science centre.

“Now he’s an actor, but he still holds on to the chemistry set.”

Another item that struck a chord for Simon was a globe treasured by Kelly Muir.


Graeme Cunningham and ‘Jimmy’. He said: “Jimmy the Penguin was left at the bottom of my bed on a Christmas morning with a note from Santa asking me to take care of him. I can hardly break a promise to Santa now can I? Jimmy was the first of what would become a large collection/colony of penguins, but he was always the boss.”


She got it when she was eight after spotting it in Woolworths and spent hours staring at it as a child.

“She wants to travel the world,” explained Simon.

He added: “The stories that have come out of it have been quite emotional. It’s interesting to see why people still keep hold of these things.


Kelly Muir and ‘Globe’. She said: “When I was around eight I became interested in other countries and cultures. When I noticed this globe in the dark lit up in the shop, I think it was Woolworths, I begged my mum to buy it me. I used to spend hours sitting in the dark looking at my globe.”


“A lot of people keep them for security – it’s like a happy thought. Some of them see them as a companion to their life.

“The strangest thing was finding out how reliant people are on their toys.”


Marc Fossey and ‘Evil Knievil’. He said: “I have kept this Evil Knievil because its the best toy ever. This is actually the second one I have had because the first had an accident with a river. It holds dear to me because I always wanted to be a stunt rider and gave me something to aspire to.”


Speaking about his own favourite childhood item – a cuddly monkey called Charlie – Simon said: “I always remember the cuddly monkey being there in my childhood but not for any specific reason.

“I kept hold of the little bugger through the years and no matter what it’s always followed me wherever I’ve gone.

“Charlie is still in my house, my daughter now has it in her room. I think that’s the real reason I kept it to be honest. Almost like an heirloom to pass down to the generations of the future.”


Bethany Evans and ‘Otter’. She said: “I bought Otter from Woolworths with my pocket money at the age of four. I remember him being only a couple of pounds but it was the best couple of pounds I’ve spent.”


He added: “Its very rare to be at the start of an heirloom when I think about it.”

The exhibition ‘Nostalgia’ is on show at Creative Exchange, 29 Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, until 5 June.

Simon plans to expand the project outside of Scotland and will photograph people with their toys in Sheffield, London and Cambridgeshire.

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