Forgotten Knowledge

Forgotten Knowledge was an installation of altered books I created for the Vancouver Container Art show at the PNE, from August 21st to September 6th, 2010.

The series is called Forgotten Knowledge and uses a set of twenty-five Funk & Wagnall’s encyclopedias combined with found objects from nature.

Artist Statement:
The inspiration behind this work is the idea of human knowledge that has been lost or forgotten. The encyclopedias represent the sum of human knowledge contained in written form, while the found objects represent information about the natural world.

The encyclopedias contain a vast amount of learning on a variety of subjects but because we are constantly capturing and evolving information the books are now outdated. At some point they became obsolete to their former owner and were discarded. To someone from fifty to one hundred years ago, these encyclopedias would be a treasure trove of information and highly valued. Today we increasingly rely on data provided in a digital format rather than from books, and owning a set of encyclopedias has become a thing of the past.
The items inside the books are found objects and represent information about the natural world. Because the average person lives in a way that is disconnected from nature they only have very basic knowledge about the plants and animals in their environment. It is knowledge that at some point in the past became less important to possess because it wasn’t critical to survival.

With this work I am retrieving the discarded information contained in the books and objects and presenting these to an audience to engage people in reclaiming knowledge that has been forgotten.


Work in progress in the studio leading up to the Container Art Show. The original installation included fifty kusudama flowers handmade from book pages. These were suspended from the container ceiling during the run of the show.


The work was on display for two weeks in August 2010, and was seen by thousands of people attending the PNE. It was my first experience of creating public art.


© Rachael Ashe