Year Of Troublemaking
Tiny Stories Vending Updated
The ‘Tiny Stories’ vending machine, curated by Coralie Oddy-Propsting, is now out in the world and creating wonder everywhere it goes.
A few months ago I wrote about my lockdown art project — converting a broken down vending machine into one that dispenses artworks. The Tiny Stories Vending Machine is now out in the world.
Its first home is at Cave, a vibrant community art space in central London dedicated to anyone with the impulse to make. I’m so excited about the vending machine being at Cave, since the space is designed to give a platform to emerging artists and functions as an art gallery, while also being a secondhand shop, cafe and general hidey hole of wonders — a place for everyone, not just those who already identify as art lovers.
The aim of Tiny Stories Vending is to connect people. The machine offers an intimate and beautiful story from a stranger to someone as easily as they might grab a drink or a chocolate bar. Storytellers of all kinds are able to put their story, whatever that may consist of, out into the world to be discovered. I feel strongly that every person is already a storyteller, and I want to see a diverse range of stories in the vending machine that reflect this idea.
The response has been amazing. Throughout lockdown, I was receiving tiny stories in the post. It gave a sense of purpose, excitement and anticipation to a long, dark winter spent away from loved ones, and receiving a story was frequently the highlight of my day. All stories are welcome — the only constraint is that each story has to fit inside one of the 5x5cm tubs that the machine dispenses. I didn’t want to hold back potential storytellers with the assumption that ‘story’ means only text or words, and storytellers interpreted this in wonderfully imaginative ways. The vending machine currently contains quotations; tiny embroideries; origami; seeds; poems; collages; watercolour paintings; tiny bound books; tiny scrolls; tiny photographs; scents; crochet; multisensory stories; a tiny bead and wire spider and a tiny light up lighthouse; as well as handwritten, printed and type written prose from 5 different countries so far — the UK, USA, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Germany. The creativity has been astounding, and the distance from which some storytellers have sent their tiny stories has surprised and delighted me. Story topics have included climate change, living with a stammer, living well through lockdown, space travel, marriage proposals, finding your tribe, the lives of plants, the end of a friendship, home, dreams of London, peacocks, unicorns and taking a bath!
The project is ongoing — once the tiny stories have been vended, the machine will need to be restocked, so I am still looking for storytellers who would like to submit their work. In the future, I hope the Tiny Stories Vending Machine will also visit new locations.
If you would like to submit a tiny story, or would be interested in the vending machine coming to your space, please email email@example.com.
All money collected from the vending machine is going to good causes. A small donation has already been made to Bag Books, who create multisensory stories for adults and children with learning disabilities. While at Cave, the vending machine will donate money collected to a young girl who lives locally, through Solving Kids Cancer. I hope that as the vending machine changes location, it can support causes that matter to the community in which it is based.
This has been such a wonderful lockdown project, and I hope the tiny stories continue to arrive and find their way out into the world throughout 2021. Very special thanks to all the storytellers who contributed to the first ‘stocking’ of the Tiny Stories Vending Machine; especialy those who did entire series of tiny stories— Amy Moss, Ana Earthrowl, David Bloxham, David Franklin, Jaycee Koh, Joanna Grace, Jon Oddy, Katja Schardoe, Lena Schroeter, Maria Fagerlund, Muffie King and Robert Gray.