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Confiscated items from school children goes on display at the Life Science Centre

A collection of confiscated items from school children is going on display at Newcastle's Life Science Centre

Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at Life
Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at Life

Ever wondered what happened to all those items confiscated by teachers when you were at school?

Artist and teacher of 15 years, Guy Tarrant, has created Confiscation Cabinets – a collection of items confiscated from school children. These forbidden items – from games, accessories and cult toys to makeshift weapons and personal notes – were collected from 150 different London primary and secondary schools over three decades and are now on display at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre until Bonfire Night 2014.

The objects highlight the often mischievous and distracted behaviour played out in the controlled school setting where children spend the majority of their young lives.

Guy explains: “These confiscated items are evidence of pupils’ playful and impulsive activities and how they may reject or evade rules.”

The eight cabinets feature all manner of items, including homemade playthings such as pen tubes used as pea shooters, toy guns, colourful plastic toys and jewellery, make-up, gadgets and improvised missiles.

Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at Life
Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at Life

The majority of items on display were donated by senior and head teachers, while others were collected by Guy while working as a teacher in primary and secondary schools and in centres and schools for pupils with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.

Starting with primary school, the display looks at items confiscated from girls, boys and senior school pupils before examining pieces taken from pupils with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties. Some of the pieces come with notes made by the teacher on why the item was confiscated.

Ian Simmons, science communication director at Life, said:  “Having worked as a teacher, I was enthralled by items in the cabinets which brought back a lot of memories. There’s nostalgia in this exhibition but it’s also quite thought-provoking, giving an insight into the behaviour of school children.”

Each school has its own policy for returning confiscated items. The objects in Confiscation Cabinets represent the small percentage of cases where pupils didn’t reclaim their property.

The exception to this is where weapons, stolen items, or items believed to have been used to cause damage to a person or property are involved.

One of the confiscated items on display
girls primary cabinet items Confiscation Cabinets exhibition at Life Life images for Culture Magazine

Confiscation Cabinets is at Life Science Centre, Newcastle until November 5, 2014. For details of other exhibitions and events at Life, including Body Worlds Vital, visit www.life.org.uk

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David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer