Field PDP

Field modules are all about going beyond the boundaries of our discipline  and taking us outside of our usual environment to inspire us and give us a new perspective, making connections between these modules and my subject, making it key in the development of my skills, context and ideas.

Field this year has been such an exciting experience, especially coming from last year, where we felt as a whole that field was a bit disjointed from us and subject and although we didn’t have the field festival last year I feel I made the right decisions for my modules this year and began to take snippets of inspiration from both into my subject.

I chose both the Global Perspectives: South Korea and the Wunderkammer road trip, which basically gave me the opportunity to travel both internationally and nationally. I chose South Korea, as that felt like the biggest adventure. I didn’t know much about the country culturally, so I figured it would be an amazing opportunity to get first-hand experience of its cuisine, music, architecture, monuments, traditions, people and history and to experience art and design in a place where traditions are very different to the Western world. On other hand, I decided to get in a minivan with Duncan on a road trip for the exploration of a range of institutions which are packed with stuff and which are basically on our door step.img_7700South Korea was not simply a “holiday”, but a great opportunity to immerse myself into the creative life in Korea and questioning, comparing, contrasting, thinking and acting on cultural differences, similarities, and opportunities that these experiences provoked within my subject area.

The clash and harmony between the local and the international is a common issue in non-Western countries. But when multiculturalism happens, is there loss of identity. Do things stop having a sense of identity? I began to identify that the Korean culture has values in terms of tradition and community where as in a Western culture, looking at the art & design context we are more concern with the idea of self and the individual. Internationalization of the individual developing respect and understanding for others  interacting and engaging with ‘cultural others’ prepares us for global work and leadership developing inter-cultural competencies.

In addition, I found it valuable to immerse myself within the culture, its education, its traditions and observing my surroundings. Visiting exhibitions like Craft Narrative: The Place, Process, Perspective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has been a great inspiration, especially the work by the astonishing KiHo Kang.  His work relies completely on the potential and possibility of clay. Through craft, objects are invited to return to the human life where they belong, where they can provide the psychological foundation for us to realize humanity and establish bonds and exchanges with each other.

Going to an Eastern culture has made me aware of my own culture as well as ‘cultural others’ and I’m beginning to question my prepossessions of culture and identity and how I see my self as a maker and an artist.  img_9224For the Wunderkammer Road Trip module the immersiveness in the vast number of art galleries and museum collections across the length and breadth of the country was immense. It was a great opportunity to engage with and reflect upon my engagement and encounters with artifacts, their curation and the contexts that I experienced within these institutions. The connections between objects and their context was within the core of this module.

The links and  the aims between our Subject “Connections and Object(tions)” and this Field module were so intertwined that I felt by exploring these collections it expanded my contextual research and therefore creating a breadth of understanding and knowledge in terms of how different methods of interpretation can enhance their function or meaning and how their venue can inform that interpretation, from the white gallery space to the domestic through the urban.

Taking the curation of “Night in the Museum” by leading British artist Ryan Gander as an example, in presenting two pieces of work one of which gazes at another, this unusual way, Gander disrupts the role of the curator as a mediator between art and the public. He invites us to look beyond traditional themes and histories and to consider new narratives and relationships, for which the single pieces initially were intended.

How we perceive things is totally depended in our senses, our consciousness and unconsciousness, which has been a theme that has interested me. The encounters we went through has allowed each single of us to reflect and perceive a range of stuff differently independently of their context or initial ideas.

Conclusively, Field might feel a bit dislocative for many, but I feel it is what we take out of it that is important. It is there as a source of inspiration  and as an expansion of possibilities rather than a reliability on the singularity of our Subject.


Wunderkammer Road Trip: Proposal

Based on my experiences and encounters from our voyage of discovery we were required to make a proposal for a project. This project could have had a range of ambitions, including an intervention within a collection or even a representation, a proposition to reorder an existing collection in order to subvert or expose a different reading other than that which the existing curation may infer, something like Ryan Gander and his Night in the Museum did. I decided to do a response, on its broadest sense of ideas and encounters I have experienced within the past two weeks of travelling and to create a tool which would enable the viewer to interact within a specific collect, gallery or space using their sound sence which originated from my collection or perhaps a tool which lets artists and even curators to experience space, for which they may as well respond.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.31The majority of museums, visitors can only experience the artworks by viewing them. Looking at the five senses, (sight, touch, taste, smell, sound) sight is the first we think about. We are constantly bombarded with imagery, and me personally loving to snap photos of everywhere we go, there is a loss of sense in relation to the physical world. We are so far into this century into virtual reality where everyone reads images through the virtual. It’s one of the big problems that art confronts now, in fact we probably all confront. The virtual denies tactility, it denies your physical presence in relation to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images and we receive information through images and we don’t receive art through our total senses in term of walking, looking, experiencing, touching and feeling and that’s has kind of been lost.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.35We have the urge to being up close, reading labels but how do we record and retain that information? We can all visually make drawings, take notes, snap photos, and photography is something that intrigues me. The no photography policy in  Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Hunterian Museum, which for ethics reasons is not allowed, I wonder if perhaps it detaches us from the whole experience from an institution. on the contrary it makes us stop, go slower, read more and appreciate more, by using our senses more which we are usually unaware, but then again,  do our memories retain in the future when looking back?Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.37As makers we tend to like to touch stuff (alot). This introduces a whole new experience as we wonder how stuff is made, pondering its tactility, but then there is a compromise, fragility. Things obviously can’t all be touched, preservation from the institutions behalf is essential and although some institutions have some handling sessions, they have the constant struggle to bring innovation to museums and gather bigger audiences to their institutions.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.39Something we know for sure is that the public loves interaction, and that is affected by their senses which will probably trigger memories and possibly attract wider audiences, therefore something that plays a big roll on my proposal.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.41You would think that taste is an unusual sence to experience within a museum, but far from it. Taking the incredible collection by the fabulous Marek Liska as an example, he began to make connections between the relationship of cafes and their institutions and how they can evoke memories, linking taste to time and to space.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.42Taking another example of a unusal sense to experience within an institution is smell. Not being able to take any photos at Soanes, that digital memory is taken away from us, without us being able to refer to it. However, things like the perfumed installation by food historian Tasha Marks, Scent Chambers is a piece which recreates smells from the Georgian kitchen, this is such a power tools which not only evokes memories from the Soanes itself but from a different era, from a different time and place.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.44When it comes to visually impaired people who tend to navigate through sound and touch, and museums face a new challenge. However, at The Wellcome Collection, a medical institution has cleaver interactions for blind people, by using sound outputs through out and braille labels which of course includes a wider audience into their facilities.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.47.pngMarcel Duchamp once said that the work of art was completed by the viewer. When sound is involved there is an additional bodily element to this, the perceptions the visitor brings with them will completely, alter the work.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.50Taking my collection as inspiration, it evokes memories, especially for the people who went to the Wunderkammer road trip, and although photographs can have the same effect, with sounds there is a surprise element, not knowing where you are, but swiftly we are confronted with a squeaking wheelchair or coffee machines frothing away or even Marek and Morgan moaning to indulge on some cake.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.51.pngLooking at sonic arts, my proposal is to have a multi-purpose audio tool where sound can guide you through the museum not in a literal way. An experiment to see how much of an effect sound plays with our memories and retain information.

It will be set in a completely dark place, however visual work is still present in the space. and why take one of the most important sence? This of course will make our other senses more alert. Often we don’t really know whats real and whats not, just because a label says so. Taking the Davies sisters as an example, among their collection they seven oil paintings that had been bought as Turners.Three of these were subsequently judged to be fake and withdrawn from display. These works were re-examined by the BBC TV programme, Fake or Fortune where they were reinstated as genuine Turners.

In addition there is always a hype around names and labels and looking at the famous Mona Lisa which is possibly the most wellknown painting in the world, often disappoints viewers by its minute size and the shere amount of tourists around her, often lets views a bit more than disappointed.  Therefore, having vision taken away from the audience and not really telling them who’s work is being exhibited is crucial.

As a multi purpose audio tool not only will you be able to experience the institution physically but it will be an immersive way of responding to a place without being physically in the space. Without that visual aide artists are able to produce work for a commission in response to the sound alone and in a way it is a rhizome way of working. Would it work? It is a good questions, but you could test it out for yourself for a mere £9.99 if you order today.L9473661


Wunderkammer Road Trip: Tutorial with Craig Thomas

Following Craig Thomas’ group tutorial, I was guided to look into sonic arts. It was pointed out to look at Haroon Mirza work, including his exhibition back in 2012 at Spike Island, Bristol.

Haroon Mirza has established a distinct body of work that fuses sound and image into a complex sensory experience. At Spike Island he presented a group of individual works, each an assemblage of separate components that synthesise light, sound and movement. These were orchestrated to form an aesthetic whole, building and looping across the gallery space to create an immersive experience that refuted the galleries’ privileging of the visual.

In addition, some other artists which work with notions of perspective and how we see things around us has been discussed. Tatzu Nishi, has created unconventional, site-specific public art projects around the world, transforming historical monuments by placing them in domestic settings. His works remove traditional statues from their everyday contexts to create surprising, intimate encounters with familiar monuments, making them accessible to the public in new ways. Guatemala Art Biennial

Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time.  She has developed a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through collaboration and the arts. Trained as a sculptor, her work creates situations emphasizing a site’s history, its ecology, or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed. Similar themes to Tatzu Nishi as how framing can bring different contexts to a specific elements within public spheres.5batterypark21973-850x563.jpgFinally, Richard Serra often constructs site-specific installations, frequently on a scale that dwarfs the observer. His site-specific works challenge viewers’ perception of their bodies in relation to interior spaces and landscapes, and his work often encourages movement in and around his sculptures.

“Time and movement became really crucial to how I deal with what I deal with, not only sight and boundary but how one walks through a piece and what one feels and registers in terms of one’s own body in relation to another body.”

-Richard Serra

Wunderkammer Road Trip: Collection

During our two weeks of travel we were asked to make a collection to curate and present to the rest of the group. This could have been the notion of collections in the broadest sense, artefacts and or images, however I decided to collect sound bites with my phone throughout the different institutions, conversations people had, events and the unexpected.

We are constantly bombarded with imagery, and me personally loving to snap photos of everywhere we go, there is a loss of sense in relation to the physical world. We are so far into this century into virtual reality where everyone reads images through the virtual. It’s one of the big problems that art confronts now, in fact we probably all confront. The virtual denies tactility, it denies your physical presence in relation to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images and we receive information through images and we don’t receive art through our total senses in term of walking, looking, experiencing, touching and feeling and that’s has kind of been lost.

My collection evokes memories, especially for the people who went to the Wunderkammer road trip, and although photographs can have the same effect, with sounds there is a surprise element, not knowing where you are, but swifly we are confronted with a squeaking wheelchair or coffee machines frothing away and even the noisy kids at the Staffordshire Hoard gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.


Wunderkammer Road Trip: Birmingham, Yorkshire & Manchester

img_9125Second and final Wunderkammer road trip this week going up North through Birmingham, Yorkshire and Manchester. Our first stop on the map was Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which was the only institution we visited in Birmingham.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery first opened in 1885. It houses 40 galleries to explore that display art, applied art, social history, archaeology and ethnography including the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world.

We began our exploration in the Industrial Gallery,  a focal point of interest and a snippet of the institution as a whole. The individual cabinets reinforce the gallery’s bold vision, “By the gains of Industry we promote art”, and powered by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, who both had a huge influence on the artistic life of Birmingham. This vision was not simply to cultivate the aesthetic sensibilities of the working classes, but also to “make social relations and industrial design more harmonious”. If the founding of the National Gallery in London issued in the “institutionalisation of the arts”, this was intended to give art back to the people again. But this time it would be accessible not simply to the rich, who had previously been able to collect and display it for their private pleasure, but to the lower orders, to the benefit of society as a whole.

I was particularly interest in the curation of “Night in the Museum” by leading British artist Ryan Gander. As an artist, Gander is known for avoiding a recognisable style, preferring to work with many different materials to explore new approaches to art. For “Night in the Museum”, Gander has positioned a range of figurative sculptures so that they can gaze at artworks featuring the colour blue, a colour which is important in Gander’s work, and which for him represents the abstract ideas often found in modern and contemporary art. The figures contemplate a wide selection of post-war British art encompassing different styles and periods. In presenting works in this unusual way, Gander disrupts the role of the curator as a mediator between art and the public. He invites us to look beyond traditional themes and histories and to consider new narratives and relationships.

In a conceptual way, the two works become a single work. So, each pairing, when you look at them, you don’t look at the pairs individually anymore. They become a work of two parts, by two artists, by this forced proximity. It’s funny, the artist has their own themes and perspectives in the construction of the work, but when you put them together, they still have those themes and perspectives that the artist originally intended for them, but they take on another meaning in their pairings.

‘When I look at sculptures of the human figure I am frequently left thinking of all the things that they’ve seen. This is the world of the silent onlooker.’

Ryan Gander

img_9347Leaving the amazing hostel in Peak District nice and early and heading for another day of exploration and wonder. We stopped at The Hepworth Wakefield, an art gallery designed by British architect David Chipperfield inaugurated in 2011 making it the most modern institution we visited. Saying that, from its foundation in 1923, the original Wakefield Art Gallery adopted an ambitious collecting policy with a core aim to nurture an understanding of contemporary art. The art collection consists of over 5,000 works which includes a significant group of work by modern British artists, most notably, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore who were both born in the Wakefield district.

The Hepworth Family Gift is central to the gallery’s permanent collection and the purpose-built spaces offer a full exploration of the prototypes for the first time. Coming directly from the Barbara Hepworth Estate, the Gift illuminates the artist’s working methods and creativity. Consisting  of a range of full size working models, including some surviving prototypes in plaster and aluminium made in preparation for the works in bronze Hepworth executed from the mid-1950s to the end of her career. It also includes drawings and a large group of lithographs and screen prints by Barbara Hepworth.

Provocative propositions when it comes to placement of work, specially when it comes to sculpture. Although a massive gallery space, the work is a bit cramped in such location as if in contrast it was placed on an outdoor setting, however the main purpose of this curation is for mere education by showing archived films, tools and materials  within their social, political and working contexts.

In addition, we looked at the exhibition by the four artists shortlisted for the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture – Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, Helen Marten and David Medalla. An art prize which aims to demystify contemporary sculpture, which Helen Martenand also elected for the Turner Prize won.

“The artist has a responsibility to communicate in a way that is egalitarian in a world that is increasingly hermetic – but that’s also the job of the institution and the curator. I love talking about my work – but I don’t want to do it in a forum that is a corrupted, dumbed-down version of my words. No one wants to be paraphrased to sound like an idiot because that’s accessible.”

Helen Marten

Kettle’s Yard at the Hepwroth is a display that brings together over 100 works of art, ceramics, furniture and objects from Kettle’s Yard which was both a home to Jim Ede and a place in which housed one of the UK’s most significant collections of modern British and international art.

Dialogues about the relationship between art and the home, architecture and design are raised and these debates were also explored at the Wakefield Art Gallery, which was originally housed in two terraces in the city centre.Similarly to Kettle’s Yard, the majority of works in the Wakefield permanent art collection are domestic in scale and were acquired from contemporary artists, many of whom developed ongoing relationships with the gallery.

Artist Anthea Hamilton has created an installation made in response to the House and its collections. The careful arrangement of art and objects at Kettle’sYard by Jim Ede resonates with Hamilton’s own interests in the choreographing of space and objects. Her installations often resemble stage sets that engage visitors with imagined narratives incorporating references drawn from worlds of art, fashion, design and cinema.

img_9338Only 20 minutes away we stopped at  Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Being our second time this academic year, it definitely was a much better experience as the weather was great and we had a bit more time to explore the park which with a better understanding of it’s main purposes in terms of curation and their connotations.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park seeks to provide a centre of international, national and regional importance for the production, exhibition and appreciation of modern and contemporary sculpture. Many inspirational elements combine here to create a unique and exceptional balance of art, heritage, learning, space and landscape.

Beyond Boundaries: Art By Email, responding to an open call, artists across the Middle East and North Africa submitted artwork via email for inclusion in the exhibition. The artists were given the brief to not only share the realities of current situations in various countries such as Iran and Iraq but also the resilience, hope and creativity that thrives throughout the region, often despite the circumstances.

An abstract sculpture by the Iranian artist Sahand Hesamiyan, the instructions for which were submitted via email, were 3D printed during the exhibition. Interesting concepts which have been explored as well by our FabLab team.

James Turrell has created the skyspace within an 18th century Grade II listed building. Deer Shelter Skyspace does not disturb the tranquility of the site, but creates a place of contemplation and revelation, harnessing the changing light of the Yorkshire sky. The skyspace consists of a large square chamber with an aperture cut into the roof. Through this aperture the visitor is offered a heightened vision of the sky.img_9508Final day of our trip and we headed to Manchester. First stop being Manchester Museum, a museum displaying works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history and is owned by the University of Manchester. Sited at the heart of the university’s group of neo-Gothic buildings, it provides access to about 4.5 million items from every continent. It is the UK’s largest university museum and serves both as a major visitor attraction and as a resource for academic research and teaching.

img_9620Moving into the much-anticipated Whitworth Art Gallery was such a pleasant surprise. Often museum reflect upon the times and historical context of their cities, however, the Whitworth felt much alleviated from that. Not being bombarded by artefacts after artefacts. With the contemporary expansion just in 2015 this institution has a modern aesthetic which focuses on modern artists but also houses a notable collection of watercolours, sculptures, wallpapers and textiles. img_9513img_9567
A glimpse of the people behind the collections, the artists, collectors and individuals who shaped the Whitworth its an intriguing curation of portraits which then, is a portrait overall. Like many of the artworks on display, it is a sketch of a particular moment, from a particular perspective. It is an intimate picture that hints at the complexity of its subject.

Andy Warhol shows the sharp critical opinions of an artist known to many primarily as art salesman, purveyor of product and celebrant of capitalism. Focusing on themes of death, politics and identity it presents audiences with Warhol’s reading of the American Dream at a time when the country is under continued scrutiny following the 2016 US Presidential election.

img_9617Final stop of our adventure was the Manchester Art Gallery. With a combination of contemporary and historical work blended together fitted within their contexts, reflecting the landscapes, its times, social, economical, cultural and political identity for which Manchester is portrayed.img_9631

I was especially intrigued by the photography exhibition curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar which considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK. Especially in reflection to Brexit and pondering how British culture is portrayed from an outsider and if that has an effect with its identity.

From social documentary and portraiture to street and architectural photography, the exhibition celebrates the work of leading photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, and Garry Winogrand. Bringing together over 250 compelling photographs and previously unseen bodies of work, Strange and Familiar presents a vibrant portrait of modern Britain.

Can’t believe how fast these two weeks has gone but it has been such a valuable experience. It was a great opportunity to engage with and reflect upon my engagement and encounters with artifacts, their curation and the contexts that I experienced within these institutions. I will be taking a little break from visiting museums for a while. Joking aside, with such an immersive experience it can be at time overwhelming however, it has taught me how to come abouts to explore museums and galleries. Some key aspects surrounding how objects and work is currated has been playing around my head and these aspects are at the core of how I view, create and curate work of my own.


Wunderkammer Road Trip: Oxford, Cambridge & London

img_8652What a start to our Wunderkammer road trip over by Oxford, Cambridge and London. This Tuesday we set off on our way to our first stop in Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum. The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, founded in 1683, it is Britain’s oldest public museum and one of the oldest museums in the world.

img_8623We were bombarded with an array of extraordinary collections, representing most of the world’s great civilisations, with objects dating from 8000 BC to the present day. Its collections range from Egyptian mummies to Pre-Raphaelite paintings to contemporary art. I ponder the importance of curating contemporary art in contrast with work that has been made throughout the ages. The approach is based on the idea that civilisations that have shaped our modern societies developed as part of an interrelated world culture, rather than in isolation. Every object has a story to tell, and these are uncovered through comparisons and connections, tracing the journey of ideas and influences through the centuries and across continents.

I was specially intrigued by the cleaver use of glass and display on this stunning new wing, built part a major development plan back in 2009. Different civilizations speak with one another in ways that have never been seen before. For example 15th century Greece just across 15th century India and 13th century Africa by 13th century China. In real historical terms, these civilizations did communicate with one another. It’s just fantastic to see those conversations being kept up by the artefacts in the institution in current times.

Just the sheer amount of stuff displayed in such a peculiar way makes you sometimes displaced and often lost, but you begin questioning the links between artefacts, crossing cultures which are translated through cultural history.

Still in Oxford, we went to the much-anticipated Pitt Rivers Museum, which wasnt too far from the Ashmolean.  Going inside Oxford University Museum of Natural History which is the gateway to Pitt Rivers, I was fully immersed already. Observing the neo-Gothic cast iron pillars which mimic intellectually the structure of their specimens’ skeletons left me intrigued.

As well as the specimens, there was an exciting exhibition by Levon Biss which I previously have seen a little video on. Microsculpture (name of exhibition) was a contemporary approach to  present insects like I never seen before. The clarity and detail in the three metre prints brings normally unseen beauty to the audience, allowing them to study these stunning creatures in minute detail. Similarly to the Ashmolean where contemporary art is displayed with work from the past, here the same thing is done but in a different context, possible to bring new audiences to the museum.img_8701

After a while I realized that the actual Pitt Rivers Museum was just behind this little door right at the back of the natural history museum. And boy was I impressed. Completely different approach to display as the museum’s collection is arranged thematically, according to how the objects were used, rather than according to their age or origin. This layout owes a lot to the theories of Pitt Rivers himself, who intended for his collection to show progression in design and evolution in human culture from the simple to the complex. Whilst this evolutionary approach to material culture is no longer fashionable in archaeology and anthropology, the museum has retained the original organisation of the displays. The display of many examples of a particular type of tool or artifact, showing historical and regional variations, is an unusual and distinct feature of this museum.

Completely immersive experience, perhaps a bit too immersive in which each single artefact has a story attached to it and then questions begin to immerse around the interpretation of narratives in which a range of items might have in common.img_8852From Oxford we drove to Cambridge where we spent our whole second day of the trip. After a long and well deserved night’s sleep at the youth hostel we headed to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. Established in 1728 as the Woodwardian Museum, since then the collection has grown from about 10,000 fossils, minerals and rocks, to at least 2 million. A walk through the museum takes you on a 4.5 billion year journey through time.

Although some interesting collections were presented and were a good  resource for research, learning and enjoyment, I was more intrigued by the discolouration on the varnished wood door which was casted from the sunlight directed from an open door on the opposite side. This comes to show the importance of museums and their vast efforts to preserve items in ways which don’t compromise their display.

A swift shift to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology which I found some intriguing propositions around the themes of curation, preservation and public involvement.  But prior to that, I passed by “Hide and Seek: Looking for Children in the Past”, an exhibition that glimpsed at children lives in East Anglia and across England from 1 million years ago to the 20th century. Comically there are some labels just next to these characterful coiled pots from eastern England which mock and praise each single piece. Me, loving to experiment with techniques and materials recently have been exploring coiling a bit more in-depth; however my work doesn’t compare to how straight and perfect some of these are perhaps because I’m not looking at functionality as to say where “form follows function”, (Bauhaus) in which in more privative times a pot had to be a pot to follow its function.

[What Craftsman] is so negligent of his child’s profit that he does not instruct him in crafts when he is young…?’

– John Fortescue, c.1470

Moving forwards, looking at curation in this institution, objects seem to flow more at ease, perhaps my understanding and acknowledgement is slightly improving when it comes to making connections between them and narratives start to enrol. Or simply the curation is just carefully though through in terms of its context.

When it comes to preservation, it is a very touchy subject as in what to and not to do. Looking at the very skilled and precise Zisha teapots which have been made since the 16th century in the town of Dingshu, in the Jiangsu Province of China, the following question is pondered: Can a museum participate in the transformation of an object?

It is said that the more zisha pots are used, the more beautiful they become. The pots are seasoned by repeatedly pouring tea over then when in use. The deposit left on the unglazed surface is rubbed into the clay with a cloth, creating a patina over time.

Artisan GeTaozhong asked collector Geoffrey Gowlland to ‘care for’ his pots, by periodically seasoning it with tea. This caused a dilemma, museums typically aim to maintain the original condition of objects. But GeTaozhong’s request made cultural sense. In China, patina and other signs of age are important attributes of valued objects. In temples people rub stone and bronze statues for good luck, creating smooth and shiny surfaces that are signs of the object’s efficacy.

Museum staff decide to season the pots to enhance its beauty and cultural value. The teapot begun to acquire a sheen, but it will only develop the patina envisaged by its maker with further care.

Another point that interested me at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is its public engagement. The museum has a collaborative experiment where they are planning to create an archaeology gallery space on the top floor for which the public can give their input in ways the gallery can integrate in a creative and informative manner innovative solutions to different ideas, different forms of display or different themes. A solution which might engage more people to visit its institution.

Our final stop in Cambridge was the institution which I researched a bit more in-depth, The Fitzwilliam Museum. I was completely blown away by the monumental size of the building.

We were taken on a valuable tour by Victoria, one of the museum’s curator. Our first stop was of course the exceptionally rare Cabinet of Curiosities, a masterpiece of German and Italian mid-17th-century craftsmanship. A pivotal point of interest for this project overall. Wunderkammer of this sort were commissioned by status-conscious rulers and aristocrats across Europe to demonstrate their intellectual interests and wealth, and to act as conversation pieces. The cabinet we looked contained at last forty drawers and ingenious secret compartments, all lined with exotic silks, marbled paper or intricate wood marquetry. These would have contained both natural and man-made curiosities.

Furthermore, Victoria took us to possibly my favourite room in the museum if not of the trip. Being surrounded by 14th-15th century Italian paintings and in the middle having the odd, even provocative contrasting Spanish statue of baby Jesus, was not quite the outbreak of my trip, but the space in which these painting were hung. Similarly to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, where the light casted on the varnished door has discoloured the wood, at the Fitzwilliam, the room once painted gold has almost a tan line of its previous painting creating a halo on paintings that are hung at the moment. It would be a great proposal to remove all the art work from the walls and explore the propositions that this could trigger in us, the viewer. I believe although museums have a responsibility to display history around the world, often this history is dictated in ways which only what ‘they’ want to show us is shown and through out the ages history is lost and only moments is history that are wanted to be remembered are dictated in museums, schools, books… I’m so glad the curators have maintained the space as it and not painted it as it was once before.

Extremely busy day in Cambridge with loads to think about. The next day we travelled to our last point on the map this week, London. Our first stop in London was the dazzling Sir John Soane’s Museum London.

The Soane’s Museum was a surreal experience. It basically was a massive cabinet of curiosities in a monumental scale, in which everywhere we looked we discovered something intriguing. This historic house, museum and library of distinguished 19th century architect Sir John Soane has been left untouched since his death, almost 180 years ago, followed by his request.

Unfortunately I was unable to take any photographs; we can’t even sketch; but often this takes away from the whole experience, in which we live in a world where we are consumed by visual imagery and tend to forget the present and what is happening in our surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the painting room, perhaps for it to be unexpected where paintings were just being pulled out from behind other painting as if we were on an actual wunderkammer. Only first hand experience can dictate the whole momentum.

In addition, I went on an exclusive private tour where I managed to see Soane’s wife’s dressing room, his model room which includes an impressive replica in cork of Pompeii and his Bedroom. Our tour guide told us a few stories about Soane’s and his family; However I was captivated by his desire to maintain his legacy even after his death. Two months before his death in 1836, Soane sealed three separate containers; his bath tub, his dressing room and his drawers, with the instruction that they should be opened one at a time on 22 November (Eliza’s death date) in 1866, 1886, and 1896. Each time, the media worked itself into a frenzy; would they discover a painting by Soane’s good friend Turner locked inside? But each time the same disappointing assortment of newspaper cuttings, cheques, professional correspondence, old card cases, false teeth, lottery tickets and Eliza’s knitting needles emerged along with his canny wit from beyond the grave.

Just across Lincoln’s Inn Fields, we went to the Hunterian Museum. It houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK and is based on the items assembled by John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist. The collection comprises more than 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings.

Massive debates around the theme of ethics in what should be displayed and what shouldn’t and understandably why photography is not allowed. You do not need to have a scientific mind, just a curious mind. This is more than just your average shock or weird stuff exhibition, the museum is the thrill of the curious, the academic, the gory and of course the just plain bizarre. Every display piece offers some kind of opportunity for learning about human and animal physiology in a way that books and pictures can’t really provide.

Similarly, the Wellcome Collection displays an unusual mixture of medical artifacts and original artworks exploring ‘ideas about the connections between medicine, life and art’. Its permanent exhibition, “Medicine Now”, presents a range of ideas about science and medicine since Henry Wellcome’s death in 1936. It reflects the experiences and interests of scientists, doctors and patients. Within the huge field of medicine this exhibition attempts to focus on only a few topics: the body, genomes, obesity and living with medical science.

Something that i was especially intrigued about was the work displayed by The Institute of Plastination. Once again themes around ethics emerge and Gunther von Hagens plays around with these themes for research and scientific purposes, but artistic nevertheless.

Another permanent exhibition, “Medicine Man” reunites a cross-section of extraordinary objects from Henry Wellcome’s collection, ranging from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon’s toothbrush to George III’s hair. It also provides a very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health.

I found that a younger audience was present in this institution in contrast with others we have visited before. Perhaps the gory interest we have for these themes which are curated in such a contemporary way, relevant to the times. In addition, having the incorporation of sensorial ways of experiencing the work brings bigger audiences to exhibitions; for example the use of touch to feel a Van Gogh etching and braille labels for those visually impaired.

“Making Nature”, a major exhibition which examined what we think, feel and value about other species and the consequences this has for the world around us. It brought together over 100 fascinating objects from literature, film, taxidermy and photography to reveal the hierarchies in our view of the natural world and consider how these influence our actions, or inactions, towards the planet.

Organised around four themes; ‘Ordering’, ‘Displaying’, ‘Observing’ and ‘Making’; this exhibition questioned the approach of ‘learning through looking’, charts the changing fashions of museum displays alongside society’s changing attitudes to the world around us, examined the search for an authentic encounter with nature, and looked at how humans have intentionally altered other organisms.

I thought our last visit was a bit rushed and would like to explore it more in the near future. It has simply been just an immersive three days in which so much information has been forced fed upon us. Just can’t wait for next week for which we are going to go through Birmingham, Yorkshire and Manchester, and hopefully having had this experience I will begin making connections and examine museums more carefully.img_9111

Wunderkammer Road Trip: Research/Report

For our first project on this field module, each one of us was given a gallery/museum in which we had to research and do a presentation. It was a great opportunity to get an overview of the institutions we are going to visit and to get to know what to expect from them.

I looked at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Celebrating its 200th year just last year, the museum is named after its founder, Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam. He was a student at Cambridge during the 1760s and had a passion for collecting books, old master prints, music,  medieval manuscripts and paintings. When he died in 1816, he bequeathed his collections to the university of Cambridge for the increase of learing along with a substantial sum of money to build a museum to house them. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the collections have grown with gifts, bequests and purchases. Today there are more than half a million objects in the whole collection.

The museum has five departments: Antiquities; Applied Arts; Coins and Medals; Manuscripts and Printed Books; and Paintings, Drawings and Prints. Together these cover antiquities from Ancient Egypt, Sudan, Greece and Rome, Roman and Romano-Egyptian Art, Western Asiatic displays and a new gallery of Cypriot Art; applied arts, including English and European pottery and glass, furniture, clocks, fans, armour, Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, rugs and samplers; coins and medals; illuminated, literary and music manuscripts and rare printed books; paintings, including masterpieces by Simone Martini, Domenico Veneziano, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, van Goyen, Frans Hals, Canaletto, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso and a fine collection of 20th-century art; miniatures, drawings, watercolours and prints.

I’m interested in looking at some cabinets of curiosities (Wunderkammer) that are spread around the museum. Im intrigued to know if we are able to interact with the cabinets somehow and explore their treasures. I managed to find this little video (0:20-4:15) where Tim Wonnacott explores one of these.

_mg_8409_paul-allitt_webAt the moment there is a little curation of works by artists who sought to make a new art responding to the modern world which are brought together in this second display from Kettle’s Yard. The display re-unites for the first time, paintings and sculptures by pioneering modern artists who are represented in both collections and is up until 31 March 2017.

Having read this months ceramics review edition I found a relevant article about Dr. John Shakeshaft’s bequest of 700 pieces of studio pottery to The Fitzwilliam Museum which is a great addition to the vast array of ceramics for which The Fitzwilliam already had. Currently there are 100 pieces that are displayed which are sat alongside a growing collection of contemporary craft from the Goodison Gift, including works by Kate Malone and Jennifer Lee, which further extends the scope of the museum’s ceramics offering.

Having never had the opportunity to visit this institution its pretty hard to have an overview of the museum by just looking at their website and reading a few articles on them; however, im intrigued by what I have discovered and can’t wait for next Wednesday to immerse myself more profoundly.