Captain Beany in orange suit against orange walls
Captain Beany. All photos: Callum O'Keefe

Photos of Obsessive Collectors With Their Collections

Callum O’Keefe explores the all-consuming nature of collecting in ‘Antiques of the Future Past’, his solo show at the Photobook Cafe.

Back in the bad old days of the pandemic – when literally nobody was allowed to go out and do normal stuff, you know, like sit on a park bench –photography students had to graduate without putting on their traditional university degree shows. So VICE asked the class of 2021 to send in their best work and, once everything calmed down a bit, we put on an actual show for them with the kind folks at the Photobook Cafe.


We also ran a competition to pick the best of the best among them, with five winners all given the chance to put on their first solo show at the newly remodelled Photobook Cafe, which – full disclosure – is looking pretty damn good.

Callum O’Keefe’s Antiques of the Future Past is our first winner of the lot. The Merthyr Tydfil-based photographer and UWE Bristol graduate is exhibiting a series of work that explores collecting – the subculture, the hobby and the act of putting together a body of work that expresses something greater than its singular parts. Much like a photography portfolio itself, actually.

O’Keefe – whose dad collected Coca-Cola merch – says he sourced most of his subjects through online articles, Facebook pages and forums. Between them, they collect everything from royal family memorabilia to Heinz Baked Bean objects, football souvenirs to antique vacuum cleaners.

These obsessions sometimes takes them to strange places. The heavily-tattooed antiquarian bookseller John Anthony Westwood, who transforms into talismanic Portsmouth FC fan Pompey John on match day, has been painted for the National Gallery. Welsh legend and baked bean enthusiast Captain Beany, who dresses almost exclusively in orange, has raised £100,000 for charity. (Sadly, his Baked Bean Museum is closing this year, but you can still buy some of his objects at auction.)


“These individuals have often been documented before, but in a negative light,” O’Keefe tells VICE. “My intention with the project is to show that these are normal individuals with extraordinary passions which make them really happy and content.”

Check out the photos below and head down to the Photobook Cafe on Thursday 9 February to check out O’Keefe’s show.

ET dressed in Heinz baked bean merchandise.
A Harry Potter collector sits in front of wall of merchandise.

Tracey, a Harry Potter collector.

80s movie memorabilia in shelves.
A fridge magnet collector stands in front of his collection

Tony, a fridge magnet collector.

A wall of antique vacuum cleaners
A royal family memorabilia collector in a Union Jack suit jacket stands in front of collection

Margaret Tyler, a royal collector.

A room filled with Princess Diana memorabilia
A collector of 80s movie memorabilia sitting on a brown sofa

Gary, a collector of 80s movie memorabilia.

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John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood showing tattoos on his teeth

John Anthony Westwood AKA Pompey John.

John Anthony Westwood sat at his desk

John Anthony Westwood AKA Pompey John.