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.
A very unique museum experience and like no other encountering on our Field trips. Objects and historical artefacts are displayed within historical buildings, deconstructed from their original location and reconstructed on the museum’s grounds, together telling the story of Welsh life. It’s really an anthropological museum, like Pitt Rivers or Anthropological Museum in Cambridge, just curated in very different way.
What a sumptuous start to our first 3 day trip across Souther part of England, in beautiful Ashmolean Museum first opened in 1683, housing treasures of the greatest civilisations across time.
Ashmolean Museum is the first university museum, which was established after donation by Elias Ashmole of his cabinet of curiosities mostly including antique coins, books, engravings, geological specimens, and zoological specimens.
Its front, classical style building was designed Charles Cockerell and finished in 1845.
The museum now houses prominent collection of artefacts from greatest ancient civilisations such as Greek and Roman, Egypt, Nubia, Iran and Babylon, Persia, Aegean, or Cycladic civilisations, grouped together. In the upper levels, the collection is themed by European cultural aspects such as violin making, tapestry or ceramics (Delftware, Majolica). Art collection includes modern masters such as Turner, Picasso, Cezanne or Pissarro.
Its main ethos is to educate the public, however some efforts to innovate is evident with the interesting open room close to the entrance showing objects together, across different cultures and time, with a piece by Barbara Hepworth introducing the ensemble.
Although the collections and exhibition were rather classical and conservative, it was done especially well, with the sheer number of great quality artefacts almost mesmerising.
I particularly enjoyed the display of Lekythoi, with may examples of decorations and narratives, with good explanation of its ritualistic purposes and the stories illustrated. As well as method of production, and it’s construction with a broken example revealing its interior.
Musical instruments and tapestries, not normally seen displayed together, enrich each-other’s narrative and history.
One of the more modern collection I found was English Delftware from 18th century.
Commemorative plates mostly showing royalty in rather naive and simple style, with it’s stylistically disproportioned faces and bodies makes you laugh.
They depict a very messy and complicated royal relationships, which could explain it’s fast approach to decorating?
They make me happy because I feel I couldn’t paint with majolica any better and more realistic. I would like to try and quickly create and illustrate narratives on plate like this. I feel such style would just give more humour, lightness and expression to ideas and stories.