The Hunterian Museum, London – Wunderkammer Field Presentation

A presentation of our allocated museums, on their core collections and collectors, ethos, organisation, curation, architecture, history and context.
I was allocated the Hunterian Museum in London, within the Royal College of Surgeons’ Headquarters.


I was glad I got to research deeply and digest data on a scientific based collection. My fascination was quickly directed to the strong ethos of careful observation and objective scientific method, that led John Hunter to collect around 15,000 specimens.
This approach, and the exhibits themselves, helped him to make a number of breakthroughs in medical surgery, which the curation of the museum reflects.

During my presentation, straight after the presentation on another science based collection of Wellcome Foundation, a deep conversation on ethics emerged.
The collection itself, as well as how some of the artefacts were acquired, raised questions on what is appropriate in art, medicine and science.
The exhibiting of the objects, human parts, in a public museum setting requires special attention, that’s why the ban of photography in Hunterian Museum.

Statements of Intentions

Subject

Coming from the innovative furniture piece of Penguin Donkey as my catalyst object from the Ken Stradling Collection, created for the revolutionary paperback Penguin books; I want to follow the trajectory of mass production of good design for good value, available to masses, with rich context provided through the ethos of Penguin books.
I want to learn and explore the  industrial processes involved in ceramic production such as technical drawing, prototype making, lathe and whirling, slip casting, CNC, etc. Looking at pure and simple functionalism, with elements drawn from the Penguin Donkey and classical Modernist designs, features including soft curves, long legs and layered plywood.

Exploring the colour scheme dominated by warm reds and mostly orange, I want to explore social ideals and directions, as another layer to the objects. With it the repetition, and presence of body within a space, and repetition relating to identity and individuality within, and its composition/curation.

I feel I want to explore these ideas through more experimental and sculptural work as well, to guide the functional design and possibly challenge preconceptions of functionalism and the processes used. This also extends the ideas and processes I’ve been through with my Public Art Field.
As my professional practice, I’m organising structural work experience, possibly in an area of selling ceramics and its industry, or teaching and providing workshops, or museums and curation as linked to our project brief.


Technical

For my technical I want to take the opportunity of exhibiting in the new Craft Gallery of Saint Fagans, and create an educational and innovative way of looking at colour through ceramics, in particularly through slips and stains.
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I would join the effort with Morgan Dowdall, so we could produce more spectacular collage presenting colours in slips, in as fun and engaging way possible.
For now we would divide the colour wheel into warm and cold halves, with me exploring the warm spectrum: from warm Greens to Yellow, Reds through warm Purples. screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-02-21-09

This will contribute to my Subject project further exploring slips, its colours and colour combinations through layering.


http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-theory-intro.htm

Refining Plaster Prototype

Altering turned shape made on the plaster lethe; trying multitude of tools.


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As my intention to create 4 different feet as a base for the cup, inspired by the 4 legs of the Penguin Donkey couldn’t be realised through the lathe turning stage, I had to work onto the turned form further, and carve the feet away.

Drawing a technical sketch of the base in my sketchbook, and carefully calculating the legs’ positions, I could place my turned form onto it to accurately mark the legs’ positions.

I started carving away bigger chunks with range of small hoop or cutting tools. However, that proved too brutal and I was scared I would accidentally damage the prototype.
Therefore, I went to small metals workshop and used Dremel tool to precisely carve the feet away with much more control in my hands.

This proved as a great, precise and fast way to alter a prototype. Using multitude of attachments and different speed settings I could carve away bigger chunks, take small quantity of plaster closer to the feet and get into the more awkward angles, 20161203_125357as well as smooth the surface level.

To smooth all the edges precisely, I had to switch to using wet-and-dry sand paper of various grades, to safely file away the small quantities of plaster.


I again rather enjoyed doing small, precise and planned manual alteration of form.

However, I’m not entirely happy with the prototype. I feel the legs and bottom curve should be even more pronounced, to better represent the original Penguin Donkey and its long feet and profound curves. I’m afraid the shrinkage of the clay after glaze firing will make the features rather insignificant.

At the end, it is only a test piece to challenge my skills further. I hope I’ll be able to
produce even better and more prototypes with more confidence20161203_131240.

Penguin mugs, Grayson Perry and Douglas Coupland

Appropriation of Penguin Books’ design and its symbolical use within art.


The distinctive, horizontal blocks of colour and text within as a cover design of Penguin’s paperbacks, proved so iconic that its appropriation on a simple utilitarian ceramic mug became highly popular merchandise.

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In Grayson’s Perry “The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal” (2012), a monumental piece of tapestry from his series, he is using these mugs as a social class symbol, and the movement through classes.
“On the table is a still life demonstrating the cultural bounty of his affluent lifestyle”. Together with the French press, car keys with Damien Hirst like skull keychain, local organic jam, fresh vegetables on the Guardian newspapers or the raw wood table they are all placed on, they are the symbols, the style-creators of aspirational middle classes.
They represent an aspiration for wealth of knowledge as well as monetary wealth, success and domestic nostalgia.

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Douglas Coupland is another artist, and novelist appropriating the Penguin Books in his collages, and text based visual art, blurring the boundaries of art and literature.

This collage of “Jet Boy Jet Girl”, a song name stuck as vinyl stencils onto Penguin Book titles such as “Two Adolescents” by Alberto Moravia.
The punk song by Elton Motello about 15 years old boy’s lust and sexual relationship with an older man adds another complexity to the bluring of bounderies.

The ‘correct’ place for people within their social class or sexuality is challenged, and the nature and freedom of movement between them explored.

If I want it or not, appropriating the Penguin Books or the Penguin Donkey in my work will have significant impact on the context it carries.


https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/the-annunciation-of-the-virgin-deal/DgHzNHCbRZyjLw

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/jet-boy-jet-girl/CQHy-8Vm-UsLHg

Cardiff Contemporary – Site Specific work by Roman Štětina

Peculiar experience visiting casino for the first time, while exiting a site specific work by Czech artist Roman Štětina; part of the Cardiff Contemporary biennale, exploring the theme of ‘communication’.


 

SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT – TWO BITS from Roman Štětina on Vimeo.


The incredible experience started immediately, by entering a long corridor winding it’s way in between the shop-floor spaces; a backstage corridor leading to a backroom in the city centre.
At the end of the corridor, a wast darkened room with aggressive and opulent reds and gold, giving casinos’ suggestions of excitement, opportunity, profit and luxury.
However, now the space was dystopian and empty; with only old CRT televisions showing still footage, and photographs in light boxes, mirroring back the space.

Referring to the theme of the festival, Roman is exploring ‘one way communication’ within TV and radio media. “The speaker doesn’t know if they are heard, or who hears them, and the listener is unable to respond”.

I certainly felt lonely and abandoned, only at the receiving end. The same feeling continued when I entered the real casino through the backdoor, only observing the number of people engaged in the casino’s games.

I wonder if certain spaces are influencing and stimulating people to observe ourselves within, to reflect and meditate.

CoCA

DRAFT

Our 2 day trip to the Harley Gallery and Studios, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Centre of Ceramic Art within York Art Gallery.
An immerse and deep exploration of British Studio Pottery: from meeting practitioners, to the curators, collectors and archivers.


With over 5 500 ceramic artefact, CoCA is a waste collection and resource of ceramic practice in the UK. Its important work is to tell the stories of significant artists, potters and/or makers working with clay, and their collectors.
It’s to the generosity of The Very Reverend Dean Eric Milner-White, W.A. Ismay, Henry Rothschild and Anthony Shaw that this public collection can showcase the most complete story of British studio ceramics.

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1) As we live in wold of big data, there is so much information in our world, so many products, ideas, concepts and data created every day, we can’t possibly see and experience most of them.
Growing in importance, it is curator’s job to digest, choose, present and restrict the flow of information, same as collectors who’s collections are exhibited and studied, they can direct our tastes and presences.
But as we discovered, not all creators has to have money or influential position to exert this kind of power. It’s more about dedication, passion, and confidence in own decision.
But they must bee influenced too, in the never ending network of constant selecting and rejecting.

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Curators’ job is more to select and digest already existing collections, within a public institution with public collections, or as with CoCA, private collections donated for public use.

I was very delighted by the refreshing connections of classical fine art paintings and contemporary ceramic art/craft. …

“Like other forms of art, its [curation’s] function is not the restoration of context of origin but rather the creation of a new context.” (S. Stewart, Objects of Desire)

2) As to the extensive network of people guiding and presenting what we see, David Clarke tries to understand material culture as a system with subsystems.
David describes 5 main subsystems:

  1. Social subsystem: the hierarchical network of inferred personal relationships, including kinship and rank stats.
  2. Religious subsystem: the structure of mutually adjusted beliefs relating tot he supernatural.
  3. Psychological subsystem: the integrated system of supra-personal subconscious beliefs induced upon the individual in a society by their culture, their environment and their language.
  4. Economic subsystem
  5. Material culture subsystem

“These five subsystems headings are transparently based on the prejudices of current opinion, underlining their arbitrary nature,”

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“A static and schematic model of the dynamic equilibrium between the subsystem networks of a single sociocultural system and its total environment system”.

As all the 4 private collectors basically knew each other and hugely influenced one-another , their collection can’t be called vast and comprehensive.

3) A carefully curated domestic space, exhibited within a public gallery space was rather exciting to see, comparing that most collections are displayed in museum settings behind glass. It showed individual’s taste in it’s most natural state. Such display inspired new ways of curating our own spaces, as well as giving more attention to the aesthetics of the ceramic objects.

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Anthony Shaw as the latest contributor with his collection of contemporary ceramics that still grows, actually did bring new direction and feel within the overall  collection.

I liked his opinion, and it was rather motivating, that makers should predominantly work true to themselves, rather than try to adapt to the market and try to figure out what people want.
But then the curators and influential collectors should guide people’s taste better, for more progressive and supportive directions, beneficial for the makers.

4) Psychology of collecting, as an addition to functional and decorative

Although I feel CoCa’s collection is rather biased and mostly showing similar single direction and aesthetics of ceramic practice, I’m happy that there’s the curational discussion and openness to innovate. With the domestic display of Anthony Shaw’s collection, or pairing object from rather dissimilar practices and timeframes to stimulate new ways of looking and discussing, there’s an interesting progression for innovation.


Publications used:

Interpreting Objects and Collections; Susan M. Pearce; 1994
Photographs, Museums, Collections Between Art and Information; E. Edwards and C. Morton; 2015
Centre of Ceramic Art an introduction; Helen Walsh; York Museum Trust
The Anthony Shaw Collection