After reading an interesting article here, about the Natural History Museum and their Spirit Collections, I saw they were running tours open to the public, and I knew it would be something I definitely needed to see. I certainly was not disappointed!
I know it would be something of great interest to me, as for my Degree Show exhibition I had created a wall sized set of drawings based around the cabinet of curiosities, and specimens stored in jars. Our guide for the tour, Jen, was very friendly and seemed to know a lot about the collections, which are located in the new side of the museum, opening in 2002. With over 80,000,000 specimens in their collections, a lot of storage space is needed, and the new building was custom designed to store these specimens properly. It was fascinating to see that some of the specimens are extremely old, while new arrivals were kept in separate storage units, awaiting classification and identification. It was interesting to see some specimens were kept in containers that must have been to have by the person who collected the specimens, just like the onions jar. They even had a cupboard full of specimens collected by Charles Darwin, including his pet octopus!
Here are a few of the many photographs I took, and while I may or may not use them to directly influence my artwork, it was definitely a fascinating tour that I will not forget any time soon! I look forward to the Natural History Museum opening up more of its stores up to the public in this way.
I had the amazing opportunity to attend Frieze Art Fair on October 16th, thanks to the Artist Development programme (run by Turning Point West Midlands in partnership with the New Art Gallery Walsall)! My travel costs and ticket to the fair were all paid for, which was even more amazing, and although it has been a few weeks since attending the fair, I wanted to mull over the experience before posting about it. There was so much to see, each gallery had their displayed works set up like a mini exhibition, so it was akin to visiting over 160 small exhibitions in the space of several hours. It was a brilliant but exhausting experience, and it became clear very quickly that if you spent a lot of time looking at each artwork, you would never see it all. I found that I had to quickly look at the artworks before moving on, similar to how you skim-read a text; not to look at it in too much detail, but enough to get the general idea of what it’s doing.
Once popular trend I noticed quite quickly is ceramics. There was a lot of ceramic based artwork in many of the galleries, small to large. With the British Cermaics Biennial also taking place this year, and a lot of talk about ceramics in general, it seems to be ‘in vogue’ now (although I could not say if it ever fell out of popularity).
There was a lot of art there that I liked, and a lot more that I particularly didn’t like. The feeling many people have now of contemporary art being inaccessible I felt was embodied in some of the work there. Although there was also a lot of work there that I feel was very accessible, fun, and very interesting!
Here are some of the highlights from the fair (I took a lot of photographs!)
With the Assemblage exhibition coming to an end at AirSpace Gallery, the studio artists group discussed it, and several of us decided it would be a brilliant opportunity to move the Exhibition to the Original Spode factory site, Stoke-on-Trent, alongside the British Ceramics Biennial. I thought this would be a perfect fit for my sculptures, with them being made from clay! While not situated i the main building, we have been granted access to one of the other buildings on the site, Meadow Building. I was given floor space and window space, which I think has worked well in setting up my sculptures at different heights.
I also like how well they fit within the building, as although it is quite run down it is a listed building, so no alterations were allowed to be made. The raw methods of their creation fits in well with the atmosphere and aesthetics of the building. Luckily I did not have to worry about this with my work being sculptural, but any hanging etc had to be done in already existing holes. Sadly I did not have time to explore the building thoroughly, and only had time to quickly install the sculptures before I had to leave. I am hoping that I can return to the building and see the exhibition fully installed, and explore the Spode factory site in full!