Your Contribution to Our History Greatly Aids us in our Goals and is Deeply Appreciated

1999 / stones, clay, paint, glue, packaging, the postal service, 46 letters, sign, slide-show, display case, plants

I created 200 sets of "fossilised teeth" from clay and common beach stones and sent them to the staff of 50 anthropological, archaeological, local history and dental museums around the U.K. along with this letter:

"Dear ...................................

I am writing to offer an artefact for your museum. A collecting friend of mine spent a lot of time trawling across England searching for fossils. It was during these expeditions that he came across many of what he believed to be fossilised teeth. He spent much time cleaning and classifying these finds, then creating complete and semi-complete sets from them. I have inherited an extensive collection and whilst I get much enjoyment from them, feel they are somewhat wasted if they continue to be hidden away in my private collection.

I would be honoured if you would accept this set as a gift to your wonderful museum. If you choose to display them or use them simply as a research tool I would be equally agreeable. I thought that your museum would especially appreciate the teeth as they were found locally in.................................

I enclose one set of fossilised teeth and a stamped addressed envelope. I would be grateful if you might let me know if they are on display, so that I could come and see them.

Yours Sincerely,

Lenka Clayton "

I received 46 very polite letters in return (click on thumbnails to read examples below). Two sets of teeth underwent extensive scientific testing and turned out to be made from pebbles. Eight sets were accepted into museums collections, including the Natural History Museum in London and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

Exhibited at Central St. Martins, London, 1999