My Wunderkammer Collection

My collection gathered while visiting collections and museums across the UK with the Wunderkammer Field project.
The ideas and context behind it.


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A collage of a selection from my cake collection.

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 order my 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.

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The Old Fire Station and Modern Art Oxford (5, 6)

Wondering off track to explore more temporary and modern exhibitions in Oxford.
Finding very different and critical point of view at collections of British museums.


The first place we found was an exciting arts venue focused on bringing high quality arts to the community with exhibition space, theatre, dance studio and workshops for artists.

We went straight for their exhibition space which was as large as a bedroom but housed exhibition named Haptic/Tactic.
In association with Craft Council, the exhibition displayed work of 5 makers and their mentors, trying to challenge the upcoming makers and create a creative network that can stimulate new ideas and ways of working, very fitting for a venue which focuses on community and collaboration.
I was very excited to finally see Annie Turner’s work in person as her aesthetics closely relate to my last year’s exploration into containment and architectural structures.
Handling fundamentally tactile work of Bonnie Kemske was a must do experience, especially powerful after a day full of being forbid to touch any artefacts.

The informality of the space and ethos of the established felt very different to the rigid formality of typical museum and its goal for education, despite both housing art or craft based artefacts.


We finished the day at typical whit cube gallery spaces of Modern Art Oxford. Established in 1966, building an international reputation for leading contemporary art and innovative programmes.
“We aim to make contemporary art accessible and engaging to the widest audience through presentation and participation.”

The current exhibition “Invisible Strategies” presents work by British artist Lubaina Himid, born in Zanzibar and one of the forefront members of the British Black Arts Movement.
Her paintings, newspaper collages, sculptures and ceramic interventions were a powerful reflection on the objects we previously seen on that day, in a museum setting, sourced from array of cultures and civilisations across the globe and time.

She is questioning historical ‘truths’ that museums presents, and revealing hidden contexts of museums acquisitions.
In Mr Salt’s Collection, Himid is referencing “renowned British Egyptologist Henry Salt (1780–1827), and with its numbered objects alludes to British colonial trading routes, overseas excavations, collecting and connoisseurship.”
She is excavating stories from the slave trade, tied in with the British colonialism, and how there was not just trade in ancient artefacts or precious commodities, but in human lives too.

Himid is not just pointing the finger at wrongdoers, but raising questions about ownership, representation, value, curation of information, contribution and context, questions so vital in our Field exploration.

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“Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service, 2007 Himid defines Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service as ‘an intervention, a mapping and an excavation. It is a fragile monument to an invisible engine working for nothing in an amazingly greedy machine. It remembers slave servants, sugary food, mahogany furniture, greedy families, tobacco and cotton fabrics but then mixes them with British wild flowers, elegant architecture and African patterns. […] This work is not a memorial but more an encouraging incentive for everyone committed to restoring the balance, revealing the truths and continuing the dialogues.’ “

Her plate intervention was a great example for us of what we could do as proposal for this project. Using museum artefacts to curate and show different side of a plate; even by altering them.

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“Freedom and Change, 1984 ‘Discourse is a primary tool against the weapons used to marginalise and write out of history our contribution / she who writes herstory rewrites history.’ – Maud Sulter, 1990 Freedom and Change is a bold example of Himid’s ‘rewriting of history’, as proposed by the poet, curator and artist Maud Sulter, via the reference to Picasso – the epitome of masculine painterly energy. These women are personifications of freedom and change: they look to the future by embracing the past, yet overturning oppressive colonial histories. By quoting a painting from Picasso’s ‘return to order’ neoclassical period (1918–25), Himid comments on the rampant political conservatism at the height of the Thatcher era.”

3D Museum visit – Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal

Another session at the Cardiff Museum involved a search for definition of Third Dimension, with an extract from The Optical Unconscious by Rosalind Krauss.

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After reading the text and trying to imagine what 3D could define, some initial ideas rise:

  1. a layer not visible to a quick perception, glance.
  2. basic emotions that interact and mix, creating new sensations and emotional balance.
  3. procreation, preservation, destruction.
  4. the most familiar world to us.


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Last Punch of the Clock by David Garner 2009

The familiarity of life in 3D and the cycle of procreation~preservation~destruction as well as their non-existential boundaries.
The text talks about the mot common dimension, and foreground being also background or the top being the bottom, erasing the perceptions of boundaries. The image speaks of destruction in preservation as gushing winds are sweeping through the landscape, people trying to keep the flying circular object (a planet?) (with the man) from flying away, them being entangled and their freedom restricted.

The “Last Punch of the Clock” talks about the familiar, 3D cycle of life, as the clocks themselves. The punch card are being destroyed, to preserve the record of procreation/work, which destroys the body of the worker which then allows to procreate itself.

Ceramic is very much about preservation (archeological significance, writing tablets, contains, or stores) through procreational but at the same time destructive powers of fire and heat.

In all cases, procreation, preservation and destruction are essential parts of our life and world, the 3D of our 3D world, interlinked and in ever-changing cycle.

“There’s many a slip twixed cup and lip”

It has been exactly 8 weeks from receiving our SUBJECT brief titled “There’s many a slip”, exploring the ceramic practice of creating vessels.
It’s few days to our group tutorial as well as close to the Formative Assessment, giving us an idea on what mark we stand on, judging on skills, context and ideas.
This will allow us to see and choose what direction we want the project to go in the Second Term.

I want this post to be my reflection on my ideas and exploration into a vessel, preparing me for the group tutorial to get most out of it. 


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The old English proverb that the brief is titled suggests that even if we know how something might turn up, and even if we are certain, something might still develop in an undesirable way.
It’s a great allegory to our first term of the degree where we are introduced to so many ideas and processes.
I managed to produced more waste (only recyclable of course) than functional objects; always pushing the clay when on the wheel to the point of collapse while developing my throwing skills, but at least I’m more confident at centering, pulling walls and creating shapes I desire.

V&A

As our first trip to the V&A Museum in London in the first, induction week revealed, there’s a huge number of ways to explore the subject of vessels; from just function or disfunction, to shape and size, colour and texture, narrative and impression or perhaps to nihilism and meaningfulness?

Besides, all the cultures Luxury cupsdeveloped an object to hold liquid, and to drink from for millennia. As the “1660 Tea Cup Connoisseur Set” exhibited as part of the V&A exhibition entitled “What is Luxury?” points out, is how the small differences in the shape of vessel can impact taste. Highlighting the lip of a cup and how it can enhance aroma, texture or taste.

I tried to look at what is pleasant for me too, when drinking from a vessel, and found out how a small milk jug with a pouring lip is my favourite object to drink a hot tea from (especially a three cinnamon tea).

Lipcup
Favourite cup

 

 

 

 

 

Also how profoundly different experience it is to drink fresh water from an Indian mug with a sucking lip rather than using just clean plain glass.
Nosecup Nosecup

 

 

 

 

 


However, the emerging technology around ceramics and art interested me too. I’ve been so thankful I could see a 3D printer working at the British Ceramic Biennale.3D printed vessels
3D printing ceramics

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One of my 3D design attempts. A base/saucer for my vessels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m curious about playing with 3D software modelling and 3D printing, and incorporating this into my ceramic work, which than can speak of more contemporary ideas of practice and production.


An idea behind a body of work is important for me, as I want to explore or read concepts and arguments through an object.

Vulcanic vessel

Even an object gushing and bursting like vulcan full of magma can be considered a vessel; its own lava creating its walls, speaking of the formation process of clay and the Earth’s surface, as well as exciting and ever-changing human culture surrounding clay.


Throw and cast

That’s why the objects created this 8 weeks want to speak about an impression: of a certain stability, like photographs of Bernd & Hilla Becher, of total steadiness and secureness, supported and weighted by their bases, fully functional with their angled lip and still they can develop in unpredicted way, like “many a slip…”

Like the documentary photography of Bechers, this is a snapshot of my progress throughout this first year of my degree.
Like the structures they photographed, strong and secure, but now all disassembled, demolished or not used; most of my work destroyed and reclaimed, my skills improved and changed.