SUGARCOATED COLLECTIONS Presenting my sweet proposition for the delicious Wunderkammer Field project, based on cloying experiences and deep glazed research during our scrumptiously immersive trips around the UK’s rich collections and sumptuous museums.
It was fun to create this proposition, play with individual artefacts, explore their ideas and put them in a different context, or rather present them in a different way than the traditional one.
As I wanted to make something physical and play around with clay, I quickly sculpted a ‘sketch’ of the Spanish baby Jesus. To make it more ‘commercial’ and ‘shiny’. I roughly vacuum-packed it, or rather just suggested it by slightly melting a piece of plastic from the bin over it.
I like the visual contradiction, as well as historic, from these 2 revolutionary materials; only from opposite ends of history.
Even with rather tight deadline to produce this presentation, I felt fairy confident with it.
However, presenting it I panicked and rushed it too much, not allowing me to explain my proposition as clearly and well as I would wish.
I should really just calm down and slowly make sure that people can actually understand me, and not make them confused as much as I’m normally at these situations.
My collection gathered while visiting collections and museums across the UK with the Wunderkammer Field project.
The ideas and context behind it.
Before starting our travels across the country, I decided to scrutinise the catering facilities of each of the establishments we would visit, through a quick review of cakes – their taste, texture, etc., but also the ideas behind them, the presentation, and the context – of the environment, museum, company, etc.
Classical museums were hardly built with cafes as one if its main attraction points, or hardly even included in the architecture.
However, they became the hearth of museums and galleries, which not only soothe the thirst for knowledge, but the more bodily needs too. For most visitors, cafe experience in museums is as essential as seeing the fossils and dinosaurs, learning facts about coal, playing around with electronic interactive exhibits, or seeing Rodin’s Kiss.
I like sugar. I like fat. I’m human and therefore interesting in consuming, but I’m also interested in seeing how I’m consuming art, information and knowledge, and how they effect each other, and how I remember the experiences while visiting museums and galleries on this Field trip.
Ratings of museums on Google Maps are largely influenced by the cafe experience, with as many words and photographs, if not more, dedicated to cafe – its staff, menu, cleanness, presentation or price and value.
Nevertheless, I feel that my enjoyment of the cakes had no influence on how I enjoyed and seen the art and collections.
I felt rather lost and uninspired in the Whitworth, Manchester, but their cafe was magnificent, with the highest rated cakes.
There’s a great distance from the cafe experience and museums, they don’t influence or interact with each other much, other that the medium of blood, as when my sugar levels drop I feel distracted and couldn’t concentrate.
However, there’s one aspect, and that is the feeling of welcome. I did feel more welcomed in the museum where I could slow down, reflect and satisfy my tastebuds.
I think I would ordermy collection by how welcomed the whole experience made me feel in the museum or gallery, not by the taste test (as all of them were comparatively good).
The Wellcome Collection, Cardiff Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum and St Fagans would be on first place, as their cafes are located in very central location of the establishment, with at least some exhibits or artworks displayed around. With the St Fagans it was even more special as you enjoyed themed food, technically within the exhibition object/relic, while experiencing history and tradition.
Ashmolean Museum, Birmingham Museum?, The Hepworth Wakefield, YSP?, The Whitworth or Manchester Gallery were rather disjointed from the rest of the building and collections, making the whole experience less wholesome.
At the other end, such as Hunterian Museum, had no cafe and you felt rather alienated as the building’s main purpose was to house the Royal College of Surgeons, not you as a visitor; or the Soane’s Museum where limited space restricted the maximum visitors and their time in.
The last location we ventured upon independently, during our Wunderkammer Field, was a small local, South Welsh gallery in Swansea. It was interesting to see carefully curated, poetic and colourful contemporary exhibition by Anne Gibbs, in a small, intimate, local venue dedicated to art and contemporary craft; compare to big, nationally (or even internationally) renown museums, galleries and collections we seen on our travels.
It refocused our attention on our (now very informed) practice, and how it could fit within the big world, or even the small local one.
Visiting COLLECT, as an art fair for “contemporary objects” was such a different experience, compare to the museum and gallery setting we’ve been exposed to during our Field. The excitement of new, as well as the people – makers and artists themselves standing next to their work, curators and galleries, collectors and enthusiast – made the viewing different. Sometimes it was more critical, but mostly more open minded and eager to learn more: from the makers themselves, by handling the objects or discussing with other visitors.
Straight after our final Field Trip to the North of England, we went to London for the weekend and managed to see briefly yet another 2 exhibitions, giving us another examples of curation, exhibition space, and context.
Serpentine Gallery had very interesting exhibition on Zaha Hadid, completely changing my expectation on presenting architecture within gallery setting.
The gallery is located in the Hyde Park, so I asume that is the reason why there were such surprising number of people. It made me think that park experience must be linked to experiencing art, for majority of people.
A very quick visit to V&A, but so valuable when we found exhibition on changing design and changing world’s ideas: mostly on consumerism, status and globalisation.
Another great comprehensive museum with intriguing mix of new design esthetics from across the world, photography of the UK through eyes of outsiders, or local artists and their eye. Even exciting curation of contemporary art next to classical collections; extending the ideas and viewpoints within the grouped themes.