Pitt Rivers and Oxford University Museum of Natural History (3, 4)

From chronological art and history, to subject based curation of artefacts across time and culture; as well as presentation of the nature and its history.


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IMG_1712.jpgOur third (and technically fourth) was the Pitt Rivers Museum with entrance through the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Again, the collections are owned by the Oxford University and displayed for education purposes.
I found a vitrine explaining principles of Darwin’s Evolution Theory through the extensively bred pigeons of different shapes and colours quite fun and interesting. But the overall feel of the impressive building and giant skeletons towering above us, surrounded by aged wood and glass vitrines, was an experience in itself.

A temporary exhibition displaying big digital prints of micro photography of insect life brought great new and different perspective on the subject of the collection, alongside preserved skeletons and taxidermy.


Entering the Pitt Rivers through the Natural History Museum was a different experience.
Still grand and impressive, but with deeper sense of wonder, as the space is filled with antique displays of not natural world, but the phenomena of nature, humans and all their creations.
The taxonomy and presentation couldn’t be different, not just by grouping the artefacts by subjects (such as toys, musical instruments, religious figures, etc), but by less subject writing and more focus on particular artefact and it’s origin, telling it’s story which creates diverse narrative of individual cabinet, and combined, the narrative of  the whole human world across time and space.
This really evoke bigger sense of exploration and wonder, with more artefacts hiding in drawers underneath.
It felt like real wunderkammer.


It even housed artefacts that I’m very familiar with from my culture.
I would blow and decorate my own eggs, when I was little, and decorated the house with them on Easter.

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Seeing something that I could technically have made, as a cultural ritual, behind a museum’s glass, in an anthropological collection, just made me feel as part of the humanity. Just another way of adapting natural resources around us, in a decorational/ritual way or as a functional object.
It made me wonder what is the most recent object in the collection, as we are still doing the same thing – adapting and changing the material around us, for many peculiar purposes.
It would be interesting how ideas and use changed over the time, how new materials such as plastic changed the visual and practical aspects of objects.
What ideas deceased and what are the new ones, or what improved or what people in past did better?


 

 

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Plaster turning on the lathe

After initial induction into the technique and safety of the machinery used, this year; I could draw a detailed design and create a template, to produce an exact replica of my plans in as high detail and accuracy as my novice skills allow.


Relating to my themes of simplicity, aspiration, and mass production I chose to create a 20161130_202330simple design of a cup that I could practice translating in high accuracy into a plaster prototype, using a lather.
Reading “The Workshop Guide to Ceramics” by Duncan Hooson and Anthony Quinn to guide me, I created a technical drawing to help me record all the details I would need later when turning the plaster.

The simple shape was inspired by my catalyst object from Ken Stradling collection, or rather its first version, with the distinctive base curve with protruding legs, giving it its symbolic name “Donkey”.

I transferred the drawing onto a thick card to guide me in my progress while turning the plaster.
Due to the thickness of the card, I think I lose some details, so next time I’ll have to use thinner one.

To create the 4 separate legs I turned a distinctive foot for the cup, with intention to try to carve and dremle away the excess later.


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Using a multitude of tools and carving away very carefully and little, while often checking the progress with the template was it seemed the best approach to acquire a high accuracy.
The biggest struggle really was to imagine and see the different angles and try to recreate them in multitude of places at the same time so that the template could slide in a bit further each time.


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At the end I was rather happy with the result. The template was slightly off a millimetre or 2, but all the angles and curves were exactly how I wanted them to be.
Moreover, I really enjoyed this highly controlled and measured, then carefully detailed and intricate process to create something exactly as designed.
However, next time I could try more creative and spontaneous approaches?
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Field: External Collaboration – Week I

Exploring ideas behind Manifestos and creating our own one, in a group of student from across the whole CSAD.
Stimulating discussion and ideas with Ladybird Books postcards and creating a cake to represent our Manifesto


20160208_120430.jpgAfter an initial introduction to the External Collaboration part of our Field module, we were divided into a groups and handed a pack of postcards depicting book covers of classical children’s books published by Ladybird.
I ended up in a larger group of 6, with interesting and captivating people across the subjects, from Graphics, Fine Art and Illustration.
Choosing a card from the pack individually, depending on how it speaks to us and what ideas we can extract from the images.
I chose my one with the title “Garden Flowers” because I’m simply drawn to plants, have interest in caring for them and filling my living space with life, captured in their limiting plant pots.
However, the ideas that the image represented for me were even more interesting: speaking of a utopian life where the flowers have an abundance of resources, having an organism that takes care of all their needs and diseases. On the other hand, life of no choice, contained in set and limited space, in the mercy of the owner. Utopia is too close to dystopia. These ideas always make me thing of the heaven my parents often talk about. A perfect utopic place of NO sin and suffering; a place of no free will?

In fact almost all of us chose a card depicting nature, or animals; even a card “People at Work: the Postman” seemed to me like a snapshot of a creature in its everyday activities and habitat. This one interested me a lot from others, as it carried ideas around communication and work and how much these aspects of our lives changed in a generation, with the widespread usage of internet, and machines in workplace, etc.

After presenting the chosen cards to each other in the group, we had to chose one that could represented all of us, and present it with ideas arising to the whole class.
My group went with the “Garden Flowers” card I picked, as everyone was vaguely interested in nature, and I could talk about the card in depth, with ideas spreading around utopia-dystopia.


Grotesque inconsistencies – life Continue reading Field: External Collaboration – Week I

Tea for Two – Introduction and Ideas generating

Exciting and dynamic new FIELD project of internal collaboration.
Creating a complete tea set in pairs, originally only in 2 weeks; stimulating fast thinking and ideas creation, and then pushing them for production.


Grouped with Jen, I was glad I could work with someone I had no chance to meet properly before.
As she couldn’t attend the introduction presentation, I prep her through phone, so we can start generating some ideas independently and then bring them together, find compromises and set directions.


Some of the objects from “History of the World in 100 Objects” series helped me at generating ideas, how object convey the issues and thinking of its time.

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History of the World in 100 Objects. Russian revolutionary plate.

Such as Russian revolutionary plate from 1921, expressing a new world order for the benefit of the worker, who is treading on the world “capital”. The plate celebrates creation of the first Communist state; in futurist style, looking at the bright, red future of peace and work for everyone, social and economical equality, utopia has never been so close.

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History of the World in 100 Objects. Early Victorian tea set.

Or Early Victorian tea set from 1840, talking about the new, industrialised and colonised world where all the aspects of a high class tea ceremony comes from across the world, sugar from South African sugar cane plantation or Indian tea from Himalayas mountain regions, even the milk, brought by new and exciting form of transport – train, to the metropole of Empire, from outside countryside.

Looking at my current time and generation, Guardian’s series on “Millennials: The perfect storm of debt, housing and joblessness facing a generation of young adults” [Guardian] the facts, figures and opinions were informative on the current issues; as well as the current threat of austerity and cuts around, especially for the youth homelessness prevention program SHYPP, who helped me too, back in Hereford.

support SHYPP from mediashypp on Vimeo.


Meeting with Jennifer, I presented my ideas around homelessness and generation struggle which she acknowledged.
Jen expressed her interest in 1970’s Staffordshire functional pottery design and the link to her home.

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Example of 1970 Staffordshire, functional pottery design.

I was delighted as I was always interested in the modern, simple but colourful aesthetic, and wanted to achieve them in my own throwing practice.
The time when they were created also reflected the previous generation of ambition, modernity and consume, so often compared to the struggling generation of today’s young adults.
This gave us great foundation to start designing and draw ideas and designs, encompassing the themes.