Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Conclusion of Community Art Project

Local artist Emma Reynard recounts the final weeks of the amulet art project she undertook with participants from Mind, a mental health charity. The pieces they created have now been installed in the Museum (on the top floor, the Upper Gallery) for visitors to see.

"Session 4
At this point ideas started to be realized: Gerry turned out the first part of his two-part mould and managed to free the original object without too much damage. He then built up the clay and did the second pour for the top part of the mould. Hopefully, next week it will be ready to cast. He also made a start on trying to retrieve the cast of a hand. Unfortunately the plaster hadn’t managed to get all the way down to the fingers, but we thought it would be good to try and invent a story around the cast - maybe it could be from an animal foot? Gerry looked to add other materials to his casts such as an arrow-head made from metal sheeting and a piece of textile with beads and leather thong.

The hand cast that became an animal paw to 'bring safety from wildlife'

John turned out his medal/coin casts. The Siligum (silicone moulding paste) created a detailed impression and worked really well. John used an oil-based gold rub to highlight the detail and also to make the medals look more authentic. He then experimented with some sheet aluminum, tracing an image of a bird and cutting it out with scissors. He then used various tools to make textures into the metal, and finally placed it on a mini anvil and used a copper hammer was used to bash out the obvious scissored edges. To take the newness out of the metal, either oil paint or the gold rub could be added.

Susan turned out the cast of the two babies. Again, these worked well with the Siligum and all the detail was evident. Susan used gold leaf to cover the plaster. Which gave a great effect. Using the gold leaf also inspired me to try this on the arm and leg casts that I have been working on too. I went back into the museum and took more photos of the metal amulets, to see if I could expand on what I have been doing.

Session 5
This week I encouraged the group to start writing a short explanation about their piece(s). Then we started to t
hink about presentation - will it be in a box, a specimen bag, will it have a label, a number or a story about it? I had some books on superstitions and the like for people to consult and find inspiration.

Literature provided some of the inspiration for the imagined stories
and purpose behind amulets we made.

Session 6
Today was the last of the workshops related to the Small Blessings amulet project and we focused on the presentation of the finished pieces. Right at the start of the project we visited the conservation rooms at the museum and saw how the collections are catalogued, labelled and presented at the Museum. We tried to keep our work along the same lines as to fit in with the rest of the displays and decided to create hand-written labels and number them all. The labels were edged with aluminum and copper and crimped, to give a similar feel to the labels in the Museum. All the specimens from the project have gone through conservation to check for any infestation and put through the deep freeze. This will protect other objects in the Museum from potential contamination.

Making ''Pitt Rivers style' handwritten labels with metal edges

This has been a wonderful, unique project to work on, not only because it was based at the Pitt Rivers Museum but I got to meet people from MIND, a local mental health charity. Together we’ve explored different materials and techniques, including mould-making, clay and metal. It has been interesting discovering and learning all about the amulets collections and creating our own amulets, charms and votives.

Finally, working on this unique project has inspired my work a great deal. It has led me to try out new techniques, such as mould making and casting and also to consider ways of presenting my work (see some of my finished amulets). I hope to continue to develop some of these ideas in my future work and I’m looking forward to eventually seeing the work displayed in one of the cases at the Museum."

Emma Reynard


Update: Installation
Last week PRM technician Ady prepared a selection of the crafted amulets for display in the Upper Gallery, next to the display of the amulets from the historic de Mortillet collection. We do nearly all our display work 'in-house' and the technicians always prepare a 'mock up' of the display to determine spacing, arrangement, mounting requirements and colour schemes....

Ady's 'mock up' display

Ady installing the display
The temporary display is now complete and if you're in Oxford over the next couple of months please do come in and have a look!


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