Eggshells and insects by Edie Jolley

 

I visited Bankfield Museum in June and photographed some interesting items from the natural history collection that are not currently on display. I was drawn in particular to the antiquarian eggshell and insect collections and also to a box of labels.

The Eggshells

The eggshells appeared to me to represent an interesting dichotomy in that they are almost perfectly preserved containers for an object (ie. a chick) but without that object ever having been present. However, if the eggshells had been able to perform their natural function, and their contents had been allowed to reach their potential as adult birds, they would have been destroyed long ago. Their very existence is a contradiction.

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The Labels

I also came across a small box of labels which had ‘misplaced’ their associated objects. The nest-like jumble of these incomplete objects suggested an interesting way to display the eggshells by juxtaposing these lost labels with the pristine, but objectless, eggshells.

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The Insects

The insect collections were largely decayed and had typically been damaged by other insects. They seem to me to be an exercise in illuminating how little of an object is required to suggest its existence. The dragonflies in particular demonstrated a similarity to fossils, which is a consequence of the robustness of the thick chitin of their wing veins.  I am also interested in the idea of exploring what kind of objects constitute a display suitable for public viewing. Do the objects have to be pristine exemplars of their kind? If not, what different experience might this provoke?

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Starting out by Jane Pugh

We are a newly formed artist group with a varied range of skills and practice. We all live locally. We are interested in working towards an exhibition that seeks to relate objects in the Bankfield collection to everyday objects owned by local people. We are seeking the ‘secret’ lives of everyday objects by asking questions around ownership, use, meaning and significance.

I would like to address these issues:

  • Ideas around objects
    • their histories and what they have meant to people’ their ‘emotional life’
    • consumerism and what gets thrown away
  • Possible areas of group interest:
    • domestic fabrics, toys (Karen)
    • dyes/dyeworks (Jean)
    • natural history collections (Edie)
  • Theoretical approaches
    • Challenging the idea of exchange for money
    • Investigating the life of objects, people’s interpretations, relationships with them
    • Reflecting on the ideas of objects as being both static/one-dimensional and only interpretable by a single person
    • Investigating the idea that objects have an existence in their own right, not contingent upon human perception ie object/object interaction as contrasted with human/object interaction

The Secret life of Objects

I am really looking forward to this journey to explore the secret life of objects from Bankfield Museum. My starting point is to look, photograph, sketch and make notes. I have already visited twice to look at items on view and so far I have found three treasures, but I am hoping that I may find others, as one is on loan from the National Embroiderers Guild Collection, and so not technically part of the Bankfield collection.

The first object I found in a glass case in a corner of the Temporary Exhibition Gallery. It was a tea cosy embroidered and beaded with designs of leaves, flowers, butterflies and fanciful shapes. I liked the boldness of the shapes, the brightness of the beads against the dark velvet, the liveliness of the design and the flamboyant naivety. This could be the one.

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My second visit was to the Exquisite Threads exhibition. I chose a pair of gloves as mentioned above, the first item ever catalogued in the National Embroiderers Guild Collection. I made notes and a drawing in my sketchbook.

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The third was a pair of pockets embroidered with tulips and, I think, roses; one with a two handled, checkerboard pot and the other with a heart. These also had a clue to the maker/owner as they have initials!

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I also photographed a few garments and I am particularly drawn to the long, embroidered waistcoat/sleeveless coat, which has great style.

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At this stage I feel further visits to the museum and further work in my sketchbook will be needed before I move on.

Making decisions, finding clarity by Karen Alderson

 

After three months of  groping around in the dark I am clearer about the concept I am exploring. I returned to the map once again after investigating firstly, its creator, by visiting Shipley and secondly, its container and the objects that were attached to it, through drawing and printing.

I created a mind map of words and ideas associated with it the word “map”.

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I had been reading some psychogeography articles that had explored the idea of maps as performance.  I thought about the map as a “text” and came up with 6 key words: lost, handled, abandoned, damaged, fragile, redundant.

With regards to performance I imagined the map could have different voices described by each key word. This made me think about how context shapes our subjectivities and how not conforming to these subjectivities could be seem to be disruptive.

For example, a friend of mine went into a clothes shop and lay down on the carpet, the manager asked her if she was Ok and she replied that she was fine. In that instant she had not played the role of consumer and by laying down had created tension and confusion by indirectly questioning others’ behaviour in the space.

This shows the relationship between context and behaviour we don’t normally think about. Which areas would you not feel safe in? Would this change depending on the time of day?

How do we know how to act in certain places? When does this change? How do you know this?

When I thought about the map as a lost object it made me think about “losing your way” or “losing your voice”, forgetting who you are and how to “act yourself”, like a disruption in your identity or personal story. Certainly “madness” or “insanity” is defined by the individual being unable to act in ways that others agree is consensus reality.

But who is determining what is consensus reality?

Psychogeographical tools, e.g flicking a coin to decide which way to walk, aim to break the habits of everyday automatic interactions, e.g taking the same route.

The purpose is to disrupt habits so that we can have a more exploratory approach to the environment. It’s like going to a new place, or when we go on holiday, we are tuned into the new situation & we notice mundane objects with a fascination which, after a while,  we do not see as we become familiar with the environment.

It helps to create new brain pathways and to question our own taken for granted “common sense”assumptions. (Travel broadens the mind)  Try it yourself, eat something different, go somewhere new, change your routine, record your thoughts and feelings.

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I sat with these ideas and considered the relationship between a map or information about a place and the embodied experience of being there.

I looked in detail at the map and at the roads that were highlighted for road widening. The initial purpose of this map was to aid the road building programme in the 1920’s as a consequence of the increased use of the motor car. What I intend to do is to walk on the highlighted roads (something in urban environments  that is not encouraged for example, where fast roads do not have pavements, thus forcing people into certain “pedestrianised” areas)  and to collect objects and record my experience of doing this and then juxtapose my recordings and research alongside the map.

The map will have influenced the decision to go to a certain area, how that will continue to influence my experience will be borne out by the walks. This will require several trips as the area is quite large. I intend to record sound and film. I do not intend to make decisions about how I will analyse the results until I have finished.

The road that travels around Bradshaw is one of the places I will walk.

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The walks will take place throughout the summer and hopefully will be complete by the middle of November after which I will edit film and sound recordings.