What is exObjects?

An object associated with someone or something we love can elicit the intangibles of an important relationship: memories of conversations, arguments, gestures of kindness, love, misunderstanding.

Escher embroidered cushion cover.
Escher-like embroidery in wool, created by Jean Boyle

The object can serve as a nexus of the emotional interactions that bind us to people and the environment, restoring stories seemingly long-dissolved by time.

Intangibles arising from objects can re-establish a sense of possibility, of interaction, with people and places whose roles in our world have otherwise ended.

We can re-frame our reflections to tell new stories about our present and future.

An exObject can be about something real, like a lost key, an inherited watch, a hand-made box, something in nature. Or it can be imagined, something we wish we could experience. An exObject can be the sharing of time, like a regular journey taken down a familiar road there and back.

By looking closely, using our imaginations, talking to others, we have the chance to re-envisage valued people, places or things lost but not forgotten.


This tiny model of an Asian sampan boat on a shelf unleashed Alison Nicholls’ imaginative recollections of a beloved storytelling Grandad

Creating an exObject can make intangibles feel more reachable.

Through reflection we can bring physical objects like a favourite teak chair used by generations of a Keralan family, or the key to a childhood garden, into a hopeful present.

Every exObject is hopeful. It might start with a sense of loss, such as a green space where we used to play or sit. The object can be regret for not spending enough time with family or friends. It can be the yearning for a relationship we never had (or not in the way we wanted it). Loss can be a hope we had for the future that is not yet realised, that is still possible.

Inspirations for the exObjects project

Following a Covid infection, Jean Boyle died on 12th December 2020. In the hours, days, weeks and months that followed, objects surfaced from the range of her 89 years of life…

dove on turquoise.a tiny icing sugar dove that topped a 1954 wedding cake,

witty hand-written letters that tentatively initiated decades of being together,

blunt Hollywood film reviews with the capacity to dent famous actors and directors alike,

lupin detail small

… and embroidery designs inspired by a love and respect for nature.

Jean took part in Colours, Community & Chemistry at the People’s History Museum. She contracted Covid-19 and died at the end of 2020.

Read the Other lives obituary published in The Guardian on 10th February 2021.

Read Terry Boyle’s Other Lives obituary in The Guardian on 30th August 2021.



Write your own exObject:

Choose an object that reminds you of someone or something important.

Your chosen object can be intangible, like a feeling.

Write 50 – 300 words about your object.
Or record a voice file up to 3 minutes long.

Send us…
1. Your writing or voice file.
2. An image (this doesn’t have to be an image of your object – it can be a photo or painting or textile or other kind of artwork that reminds you of the object).
3. A label for your image/object saying where it’s from and why it’s important to you (up to 30 words).
4. A short description of what your image/object looks like (up to 50 words).

Email your exObject piece to us at: exObjects2022 @ gmail.com

Please note: By taking part in the exObjects collaboration you’re agreeing that your contribution can be shown on this website and in related media and activities. This is a non-exclusive license agreement, where you retain copyright in your work and are free to show it elsewhere.


Go to the exObjects public collaboration.

Read exObject ‘Peace’

Find out more about what Artificial Silk has made to date.