Saturday 12 May 2012 at 6pm (£3)
World Art & Museology Lecture Theatre (enter via World Art & Museology entrance)
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich
A quest for the core of things, these six films circle the phenomenal and essential.
Framed by two luminous works by the Orcadian poet Margaret Tait which summon the wild and elemental, films by Peter Todd and Nick Collins by contrast tackle the resolutely quotidian, bounded spaces of the domestic interior and the garden, yet in doing so reveal the wonder within; a world of enchantment.
The screening will be introduced by artist and curator Peter Todd, who will take questions afterwards. A programme with full film notes will be available on the night.
For more information, including film notes and biographies of the artists, visit http://promontories.org / to reserve a seat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first ever screening of Nick Collins’ film Dark Garden. Co-curated by the artists, with Adam Pugh. Many thanks to both Peter Todd and Nick Collins for making this screening possible; also to Ben Cook, LUX, and Simon Dell, School of World Art & Museology. All proceeds go to the artists to partly cover expenses.
On Saturday 31st March I headed off to see Tony Robinson (of Time Team and Blackadder fame) reopen the museum in my hometown of Peterborough. After a brief speech about how he hopes the new galleries will engage children particularly we were ushered inside by an eclectic group of costumed staff – medieval monks, Napoleonic soldiers an roman centurions amongst the group.
On the ground floor a refitted shop and new signage greets the visitor, with gorgeous restored Georgian room on your right housing a relocated museum café (with free wifi). The layout of the current temporary exhibition (a touring Superhero one from Stevenage Museum) is confusing and the exhibits seem rushed - with poorly constructed interactives - but perhaps this issue will be resolved once staff are dedicated to the exhibition programme rather than renovating permanent galleries.
We then headed up to the top floor to work our way back down the building. The Changing Lives Gallery gives a fascinating look at the changes to life in the city over the last 200 years and I loved some of the very robust interactives and the interpretation at different levels for children and adults. There’s an interesting clocking-in activity that identifies the multitudes of products made by people from Peterborough, and a simple city-centre future planning table where you allocate blocks to areas on a map to envisage the city you want to see in the future – a very tactile way to get people think about urban geography! Across the way the Norman Cross Gallery, relating to the Napoleonic prisoner of war camp near the city, was so heaving with visitors we only briefly looked at an exquisite carved palace. Children were engaged with all sorts of activities and exploring a lesser-known part of the history of this New Town.
Back down the stairs we passed several panels interpreting the history of the building itself – originally a family home, it became a hospital in the late 1800s and then transformed into a museum for the city just before the second world war. To help understand this heritage, the refurb has seen the opening up of an original Victorian operating theatre offering a great educational opportunity for visiting GCSE history groups to explore the history of medicine. This is carried through to the first floor where the newly opened up ‘Surgeon’s Office’ has a very beautiful touch-screen interactive with four screens set into a desk, that allows visitors to explore the history of the building thematically through time, or via a floor plan of the building.
The Wildlife, Ice Age and Geological galleries on this floor have all been redone to a superb standard. For somebody who is only mildly interested in natural history I found the displays engaging and there was a really clear narrative through the three galleries starting with dinosaur fossils and progressing through woolly mammoths to butterflies and a red brick house. Another touch screen interactive explores the types of habitat around the city and what creatures you might find there at different times of the year.
Then we came to the ‘First Peoples Gallery’ a poorly titled gallery about the archaeology of the city from first settlement through to medieval times – and I was extremely disappointed. Compared to the high standard of the renovation in the rest of the museum this gallery wasn’t even an afterthought, nothing has changed and it seems to mark pre-industrial archaeology apart as not a priority for effective presentation or interpretation. The simple mechanical interactive were broken, several lights were out (including a short-circuit which clicked ominously overhead), and interpretation was offered in the form of torn, office-printer produced pages in acrylic holders marred by mismatching fonts. As a part-archaeologist, who wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the presentation of the wealth of roman archaeology in the city, I was severely disappointed with the complete lack of effort put into this gallery.
But on a more positive note, we then returned to the ground floor to visit the City Gallery – one of Peterborough’s very few art galleries. The current exhibition was better laid out than the Superheroes one next door, and presented photographs by a well-known local amateur photographer. It offered glimpse of the city in the 70s through to the present day with images for sale, but the feature of the exhibition were a number of works first taken in the 80s and recreated recently with the same people in the same locations – a fascinating exploration of changes to people and the city through photographs.
We finished our visit, as every visit should, with a visit to the gift shop. Nicely fitted out though offering a limited selection of products, the quality and value of their stock was extremely variable. The shop assistant was extremely enthusiastic when my sister was the first purchaser of a woolly mammoth stuffed toy – I can’t fault their customer service, but there were an awful lot of staff on hand to cope with the amount of visitors during their first day of opening after 15 months. I thoroughly recommend this museum as a great way to explore the heritage of Peterborough, and the free entry is a definite bonus! Though perhaps if pre-19th century archaeology is the only thing you want to visit, maybe give it a while to see if there are any improvements to that gallery in the future. Else it’s a great lesson on how not to display archaeology for any museologists.
Pippa Gardner, MA Museum Studies Student
Kedleston Hall is a magnificent house in Quarndon, Derby. It was designed in the 18th Century by the architect Robert Adam for Sir Nathaniel Curzon, the 1st Lord Scarsdale, whose descendent George Nathaniel would become Viceroy of India in 1899. The grand façade of the house nods to the monuments of ancient Rome, a fascination which is echoed through the design in the interior. The huge central block of the house was not designed for family use but as a space to entertain guests and to display the Curzon’s collections of painting, sculpture and furniture. The house and grounds are now owned by the National Trust, although the current Curzon family still live in the Family Wing.
The house is set in 820 acres of magnificent parkland. Driving onto the estate one is surrounded by grass, trees and grazing sheep before the hall is revealed on the other side of a man-made river which flows through the grounds. The estate also includes All Saints Church, a 13th Century building surviving from the town that once stood on the site. The Church contains many Curzon family monuments, the earliest dating to the beginning of the 14th Century.
After the impressive approach and exterior of the house, the interior does not disappoint. The Roman theme suggested by the facade is continued in the massive Marble hall which extends the entire height of the building. Designed to overawe guests, the Hall is flanked by twenty alabaster columns reminiscent of the Corinthian style. Monochrome wall paintings depict classical scenes, while a dozen statues of classical figures, such as Urania, Ganymede and Mercury, sit in symmetrical niches around the Hall. The same style is picked up in the large domed Saloon at the back of the Marble Hall, its design being influenced by the Pantheon in Rome.
The number of paintings displayed throughout the rest of the house is extensive, with the Drawing room and its silk-hung walls displaying the best of the collection. The collection in this room and the Music Room, Library and Dining Room are mostly 17th Century Italian Baroque landscapes and genre paintings, but there are also some prominent pieces by the Dutch artist Aelbert Cuyp. In the State Apartment, designed as accomodation for important guests, the paintings are mostly 17th Century portraits of family members and prominent aristocrats, including a portrait of James II, no doubt emphasising the family’s connection with the Stuart kings. Later family portraits from the 19th and 20th Centuries hang in the family corridor.
At the end of the tour of the house one comes to the ‘Eastern Museum’. It houses the most extraordinary collection of artefacts from Asia collected by Lord Curzon during his tours of 1887, 1890 and 1894, and while he was Viceroy of India from 1899-1905. He split his acquisitions between here and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Amongst the vast collection of antiquities are swords and decorative shields from India, silver and parcel guilt wood ornaments from China, red-lacquered boxed from Persia, incredible examples of metal work from Nepal, kettles ornamented with guilt brass from Tibet, and ornaments of ivory, copper, and brass to name but a few.
Kedleston Hall was designed as a temple to the arts in the 18th Century, and still serves that purpose today as it welcomes visitors to pour over its opulent collections of artwork, whilst at the same time offering a glimpse into the history of the British Empire.
Georgia Gerson, UG
The North Facade of Kedleston Hall
The Grounds of Kedleston Hall
It feels quite surreal writing this sat in an apartment in the north of Venice, yet here I am. A week ago fourteen students left Norwich for Venice met by John Mitchell in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. But, far from being a holiday we have so far learnt so much, with still a week to go! John Mitchell has managed to drum into us the architectural language of the city, on passing a palazzo there are now murmurs of “just look at those stilted arches” or “they’re clearly thirteenth-century capitals,” all of which is said completely without irony. It’s not all work and no fun though, we’ve been able to sample the local cuisine with shrimps de la laguna and plenty of fresh pasta, as well as taking the chance to explore the city by night. Today a couple of us took the short trip from the island to Padua which has charms of its own, the tomb of St. Anthony of Padua, the amazing frescos and the fact there are a lot less tourists compared to Venice.
With only a week to go we have still more to learn about the architecture and the art of the city and many more miles to walk in John’s speedy steps. I hope this reaches you with as lovely weather as we’re enjoying out here.
Karl Constable, History of Art undergraduate
I have been enjoying the looming presence of Hermaphrodite by Thomas Houseago in the new Modern Sculpture Garden at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, displayed alongside Henry Moore’s Draped Reclining Woman. Whilst sharing Moore’s preference for the human form, Houseago’s forms are more fleshy and visceral with the textures of his various modelling materials of wood, plaster and clay transmitted into the bronze casts. Seeing Hermaphrodite in the snowfall earlier this year reminded me of the first time I encountered Houseago’s work at a joint exhibition between Modern Art Oxford and the Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum back in 2010 - it snowed then too.
Houseago’s solo exhibit, What Went Down, was held at the Modern Art Oxford in 2010-2011. It was fascinating to also see his works next to the incomplete, reconstructed casts in the Asmolean’s galleries. The juxtapositions of his works alongside modern displays of classical fragments brought home the various classical and museum references in Houseago’s modern works:
I came across Houseago’s work again at the Saatchi’s exhibition The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture the following Summer, and then again at the Frieze Art Fair in the autumn of 2011. But it was seeing his work at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts early this year that excited me in a similar way to seeing his works in the Ashmolean, as the proximity of his sculptural forms to the figurative art of the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection draw new resonances.
Looking at Hermaphrodite I am reminded of the clay textures of Giacometti’s Standing Woman (UEA 48), the multimedia of Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (UEA 2) and the standing posture of the many of the figures on display including the smaller Statuette of Hathor (or a queen, UEA 323) and Zeus Standing (UEA 616) [ed. search for these images using the UEA numbers here].
For those with university Athens login access, click here for to a review of his work in Art in America (September 2010). The catalogue for What Went Down is available in the Sainsbury Centre shop, for those who wish to find out more about Houseago’s work.
Katherine Clough, WAM undergraduate.
8 Redwell Street
Seldom is it a sight to see today an impoverished, ascetic arts student; for now it is all about the iPad-toting entrepreneurs, savvy to self-promotion and community engagement, to which SAVORR is becoming a sturdy platform in this evolving and capricious art market.
Launched in June 2011, SAVORR was set up as a bi-monthly, open submission event. Running for one night only and occupying spaces otherwise vacant across Norwich, the aim of these events is to encourage discussion and advocate collaborations between participants. Open for 24/48 hours only, the intention of SAVORR’s ‘pop-up’ shows is to facilitate for ‘a younger cultural scene in Norwich’. Departing from a traditional exhibition display that can have difficulty in retaining a consistent visitor presence, founder and Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) graduate, Henry Jackson Newcomb, has aimed to direct SAVORR as an event in which attendees and ambience play as much a part in its success as the works on show.
Deriving from the verb ‘savour’, adopting the North American spelling, and elongating the word for originality, Jackson Newcomb took inspiration from curator and museum director, Walter Hopps’s 1978 show ’Thirty-Six Hours’, held at the Museum of Temporary Art (MoTA) in Washington D.C., in which works by well and little-known artists were hung over a day-and-a-half period; the emphasis of the show being placed on community interaction: an homage to early avant-gardism, which later transpired into ‘scenes’ often employed by mid-century American artists looking for ways of fusing commodity and creativity.
Open to all disciplines, the breadth of applicants serves to position SAVORR as an active hub for creative dialogue between students, graduates and practicing artists. In addition, each show includes the work of one featured artist or collective who has been given a separate solo exhibition space in conjunction with the wider event; Gareth Bayliss was chosen for residence at SAVORR V, with the next six artists already finalised for the next twelve months, including York-based OUI Performance co-founder Victoria Gray and Patrick Coyle, who recently exhibited at Cecil Court’s Tenderpixel in London.
SAVORR V played host to a selection of participants that included Suzanne Antonelli, George Browne, Charlie Rutherford, Georgia Dodson, James Epp, Isabel Gylling & Jules Devonshire, Benedict Hemmens, Allison Humphrey, Rachel Kurdynowska, Kate Murphy, Henry Jackson Newcomb, Tessa Newcomb, Charlotte Rutherford and Telfer Stokes. Redwell Street was a site Jackson Newcomb had wanted to use for a while, but with all properties picked by SAVORR, persuading landlords and council alike to lease them out has at times proved difficult. More often than not, however, many are happy to see empty spaces turned into places of activity, even if for a short time, as long as costs are covered and locations publicised. As Jackson Newcomb has found, some owners have been swayed by the fact that often artists provide superficial restoration work to their properties in preparation for the event.
2012 looks to be a busy year for SAVORR, with plans to organise a recurrent annual London event in the following twelve months. Jackson Newcomb is also keen to encourage a younger audience to the shows and will be launching a project which will see local school and college students taken round SAVORR events prior to openings, shown round by the artists and independent curators, offering an education beyond the classroom.
SAVORR, along with Jackson Newcomb and its other promoters, Benedict Hemmens, Sophia Victoria, John Walters and Welfare marks the changing and diversifying roles artists now have to embody. In a society in which communication is abundant, never before has it been so difficult to get your voice and your work heard. In the same way that SAVORR allows participants to define their own space separately but still create a continuous juxtaposition and concept; hopefully, these events will provide an idiosyncratic and consistent support network for both upcoming and established artists, not only in Norwich but nationwide.
Holly Howarth, UEA History of Art graduate.
Ed. For more information on SAVORR click here.
On Monday afternoon those in attendance at the Education Studio in the SCVA were treated to a talk and discussion on Tlingit Chilkat weaving from Shelly Laws (seen on below with a piece she is currently working on), a Tlingit weaver from Anchorage, Alaska.
An enthusiastic and engaging speaker, Shelly spoke of her work and its relation to Object 667 in the SCVA collection (image below, search for it here), a late eighteenth to early nineteenth century Chilkat blanket made from mountain goat wool that is currently residing in the conservation department having been on display in the collection for a number of years.
Shelly has a particular connection to Object 667 as she had made a blanket of her own from the same pattern board. This was the only time that she had used an old board to make a robe, as she primarily works from designs and drawings taken from written sources and museum objects. Indeed this was the way that she taught herself how to weave Chilkat blankets. She also has clan connections to the crest animal that it embodies.
Shelly explained that the designs on the Chilkat blanket embody symbols of status, and ancestry. She said that the ones depicted on Object 667 are of a diving whale in the centre and a sitting raven either side. One of the most interesting parts of the talk for me personally was her discussion about the distinctive North-West Coast form-line style. She described it as a Tlingit written language in form-line designs, a clearly defined narrative in a non-abstract way, with great importance placed upon the black outlines to denote the bodies, drawing in the negative, whilst the colour parts signify specific parts of the animal’s body, the eyes and blowhole for example.
A common and misleading error made in the labelling of these objects is in its categorisation as a blanket, which suggests an incorrect usage of this object, with robe being a far more appropriate and accurate description due to the fact that these objects remain intrinsic to potlatch ceremonies and are powerful status symbols which are worn and danced (below) by high-ranking individuals.
Shelly discussed a number of museological issues about Chilkat blankets in general, focussing on repatriation and access for source communities. As with all issues surrounding this topic there is no easy answer that keeps everyone happy, with the consensus being that access to the objects is the optimum situation, with those that have ancestral and clan ties to the Chilkat blanket able to access it on loan, or within the institution, but again, there is much to debate about a seemingly unsolvable issue that will remain pertinent in museological discourse and debate.
To be honest I could go into much greater depth about this topic and the issues discussed in Shelly’s talk, but I shall leave you to explore further readings, of which there are many in the SRU Library, if you wish engage more thoroughly with the topic. Might I suggest Boas 1907, Emmons 1907, Holm 1965, Jonaitis 1986, Meuli 2001 and Worl 2008 for starters.
It was a fantastic talk on a very interesting topic, with time at the end for a look and feel of a piece of weaving she is currently working on (above). I also hope that Object 667 is able to make a re-appearance in an SCVA display case for us all to appreciate it’s magnificence in the near future.
MA Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas
Sainsbury Research Unit