Back in May, when I was just starting to think about this research into evaluation and to mention it to people, I was put in touch with Ann-Marie Carey: a research fellow in the School of Jewellery at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.

Our mutual contact recommended her on the basis of the impact statement Ann-Marie produced for work on the Cheapside Hoard of jewellery from the late 16th and early 17th centuries and how that successfully demonstrated the value of the project.

The project centred around the use of digital technologies such as digital scanning, CAD processes and rapid prototyping in producing detailed replicas of objects from the hoard, and how, when this was combined with knowledge of contemporary craft techniques, new light was shed on how the pieces were originally produced. Having replicas of some of the jewellery also gave the Museum of London the opportunity to use a handling collection and for audiences to relate to the artefacts in different ways.

Here’s a video from the university website going into a bit more detail:

Ahead of our meeting, Ann-Marie sent me a copy of a Research Excellence Framework impact case study document. Probably I’ll be delving into what exactly they are and the criticisms of that system later, but for now it’s enough to say that I was expecting our conversation to be about the hoard, the research and the impact statement.

Things went different!

I’ve left this a stupidly long time before writing it up, so I can no longer remember the details, but what’s stuck with me since has been how we started off in student:teacher mode with Ann-Marie asking me to describe my practice and what’s important to me about it, then a colleague of hers happened to bring in an (I think) 3D printed pendant. A casual question from me asking if this was it in the green state or if it needed to be sintered revealed my previous training in metallurgy and suddenly the conversation became much more animated.

It’s got me thinking now about how much those moments of animation mean to me in my practice generally: when an encounter with a stranger lights on a shared experience or viewpoint and everything gets shifted into a different place and a different gear.

This week I’ve been talking with people about a planned residency for next year and at one point described my job as being to find the hooks and springboards to help facilitate meaningful connections between people’s experiences and the museum’s collections. I think maybe the animated states are the indicator of the hooks coming into play, so I’ll have to think of a way of recognising that process in evaluation.