Category Archives: Museums & heritage

Interview Adeola Dewis “Art can allow new, creative ways of seeing the everyday to emerge”

 

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Hi Adeola, You are currently a Visual Artist and Research Fellow at the University of South Wales. Is it possible to give our readers some background information on yourself?

Yes, I am actually coming to the end of my research fellowship. It was an 18 month contract with the University of South Wales and part of a large AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) funded project called ‘Representing Communities.’ I am an artist, researcher,  a mother of 3 boys and a Caribbean woman resident in Wales since 2003. A lot of my work is informed by my day to day experiences.

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You held a President’s Award scholarship for PhD research at Cardiff University, Wales and have received several grants from the Arts Council of Wales to develop and realise collaborative arts projects. Was there a moment in your career when you knew the areas you wanted to focus on?

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When I was little I wanted to be movie star! (laughs) Drawing has always been part of my life from as far back as I can remember, and dance as well.  I knew I loved art and always wanted to be an artist or arts practitioner. I have very supportive parents and they really fostered my love for culture and always believed in my art, what I could do and the difference art could make to circumstances. It was during my first degree in Trinidad that I actually became convinced that I could be an artist, that I could make art and have exhibitions. My lecturers were also great examples of successful practicing artists. Being Trinidadian, Carnival was always part of my life. It was during my MA at Howard Gardens that I became interested in Carnival performance as a way of engaging the ideas of integrated arts. This Carnival interest has evolved to include ideas around re-presenting self in public spaces and what that means for social issues around notions of belonging and un-belonging, visibility and how we react to social, political, personal situations through temporary transitory performances and rituals.

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You mentioned your parents I wonder if there are any individuals or organisations that helped support you in developing your skills and knowledge?

 I have a long list of individuals that have helped in the development of my work but again I think the core always goes back to family – my parents, my sisters, my boys, my husband and so on. When I moved to Wales I felt in some ways as if I had to start again, to prove myself, make new contacts and forge my own little space within this art world. It was a really insecure space to be in to be honest. I joined organisations like W.I.D (Welsh Independent Dace) and C.A.D.M.A.D both of which no longer exist. S.W.I.C.A (South Wales Intercultural Community Arts) helped a lot as well, providing a space to explore and meet other artists with a range of different skills. My first solo exhibition in Cardiff was in g39 when it was on Mill Lane which was funded by the Arts Council of Wales. I feel like an ole timer now! The Butetown History & Arts Centre was also a great support to help me show my work. They too have recently lost their funding. I think the key thing though is about meeting people, travelling, experiencing, talking about your work and interests and being true to what you want to do. As part of this current research I have developed connections with the Butetown Community Centre and individuals working with and in community.

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Awareness of Carnival (which you have a great deal of personal experience and knowledge in) as an art form is growing. In your opinion what is needed to help the art form develop?

 That’s a great question. Carnival can be seen as a public participatory celebration of a people. It is moving and fluid and reflects issues within a society through song, dance, costume and so on. Development is a tricky word, because what does that really mean and for whom? In some regards Carnival development needs an injection of cash and government support. But I would argue that a Carnival really belongs to the people and ‘development’ could also be about handing-over and seeing what emerges over time. I am still learning about this Welsh space and I think there are carnivalesque ’emancipatory’ performances that occur in spaces like stadiums and on the streets on rugby match days. Carnival to me, becomes meaningful if the people need it. It’s tricky when it is just another fashionable purely aesthetic street parade.

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You are currently focusing on first generation Caribbean migrants associated with Butetown, facilitating ideas of community re-presentation. How did this project develop and what responses have you had to date?

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I have absolutely loved being a part of this project! I had the opportunity to work with Elder Caribbean migrants and to be immersed within Butetown learning about their rich history and why the space was so attractive to people travelling from the Caribbean. The project has culminated in several exhibitions including one at the Cardiff Story Museum, one in the Butetown Community Centre that includes a series of photographs of the Butetown Domino Club members by local photographer Simon Campbell.

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The other end-of-project exhibition is on the Network Rail wall opposite Loudoun Square on Bute Street. It is a series of portraits by different photographers who have made Butetown a focus in their work – Simon Campbell, Keith Murrell, John Briggs and Andrew McNeill. We even managed to get a photo by Bert Hardy.

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This Bute Wall exhibition looks at Butetown, the diversity, the elders and ideas of community wellbeing and representation. Generally responses have been positive.

Butetown Elders by Simon Campbell

Do you think that arts and culture in Wales represents the diversity of the citizens and communities you have worked with?

 Well I think if we look closely enough we will see people representing themselves in so many ways. I think representation is crucial and the diverse fabric of Wales has been actively engaged in places like Cardiff Story Museum and Glamorgan Archives. In my experience I am not convinced that the diversity is always reflected in the visual art world but again, it is about where we look, what is made visible and what inevitably becomes less visible. But I feel positive. I think there is good work happening, a lot of talent and room for alternative ways of engaging arts.

You frequently support workshop activity with members of the public, do you think this type of activity is important and why?

 Yes, I think workshops are important. As an artist working with the public opens you up to different people and conversations and experiences which as I mentioned earlier are crucial to art development and relevance. Also, I think one of the aims of art is that it is for everybody. It can challenge, inform, educate and really allow new and creative ways of seeing the everyday to emerge. Workshops are an opportunity to share art with different people and it also allows you to think about ways of making art-making/doing accessible and relevant to a diverse groupings

by John Briggs

What are the opportunities for those interested in carnival in Wales?

Carnival is huge! There is room for everybody. First there is the question of what aspect of Carnival interests you. I know the performance department at the Atrium are starting to actively use carnival as part of their teaching. Any formal art – music, costume and set design, painting, sculpture, dance can lend itself to Carnival. The main ingredient especially with performance is not the qualification but the desire and passion to want to do it. We have the Butetown Carnival on the bank holiday weekend in August. It is a great opportunity to create and explore the potential of a Carnival in Wales. Those interested can contact Keith Murrell founder of BACA (Butetown Arts and Culture Association) at the Butetown Community Centre.

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If you were in charge of funding the arts in Wales what would be your priorities?

 My priority will probably be informed by spending time with different artists and communities and seeing how their visions relate to the broader political agenda for the country.

When you aren’t involved in culture or research what do you like to do in your spare time?

 I feel like I am always involved in one kind of culture or another. I love spending time with my boys. I love drawing. I love dancing and laughing and learning. I also enjoy watching world cinema.

Many Thanks for your time Adeola

 Thank you!

Dyma’ch Cyfle yn cydweithio gyda staff Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru yn Eisteddfod yr Urdd 2016.Get the Chance is collaborating with staff from National Museum Wales at the Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

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Mae Dyma’ch Cyfle/Get the Chance yn cydweithio gyda staff o’r Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru yn Eisteddfod yr Urdd 2016 yn Sir Fflint.

Dyma’ch Cyfle /Get the Chance is collaborating with staff from National Museum Wales at this years Urdd Eisteddfod in Flintshire.

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Rydym yn cefnogi aelodau o’r cyhoedd i rhoi adborth ar y perthnasau gyda Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru a traddodiadau diwylliannol.

We are supporting members of the public give us feedback on the relationships with Wales National Museums and Cultural traditions.

 

 

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Rydym hefyd yn rhannu adborth ar yr Eisteddfod ei hun.

We are also sharing feedback on the Eisteddfod itself.

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Menter gymdeithasol wedi’i leoli yn Ne Cymru yw Dyma’ch Cyfle, yn gweithio tuag at greu cyfleoedd i amrywiaeth o bobl sydd am brofi ac ymateb i chwaraeon, celfyddyd, diwylliant a digwyddiadau byw

  • Mae Dyma’ch Cyfle’n arddangos gweithgaredd ar wefan cylchgrawn ar-lein http://getthechance.wales/
  • Mae’r wefan yn cynnwys gweithgreddau gweithdy, adolygiadau, erthyglau golygyddol a llawer mwy
  • Mae’r wefan yn blatfform i’n haelodau i rannu, trafod a gwerthuso eu hymatebion personol gyda’u rhwydweithiau a’r byd ben baladr
  • Dyma’ch Cyfle yw’r gymdeithas sy’n cynrychioli aelodau Beirniaid Ifanc Cymru, Beirniaid Cymunedol Cymru a 3ydd Act

 

Digwyddiadau ar stondin Amgueddfa Cymru, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Fflint 2016

 

Dydd Mercher, 1 Mehefin 11:00 – Gweithdy Beirniadu gydag Aneirin Karadog

Dydd Iau, 2 Mehefin 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Gweithdai Beirniadu Dyma’ch Cyfle

 

 

Get The Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales, working to create opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events

 

  • Get The Chance uses its online magazine website http://getthechance.wales/ to showcase its activity
  • The website content will feature workshop activity and outcomes, reviews, editorial features and much more
  • Our website is a platform for our members to share, discuss and evaluate their personal responses with their networks and the wider world
  • Get the Chance is the host organisation for members of Young Critics Wales, Community Critics Wales and 3rd Act Critics

 

Activities on Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales’s stall, Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

 

Wednesday, 1 June 11:00 – Critic Workshop with Aneirin Karadog (Welsh language)

Thursday, 2 June 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Get a Chance Critic Workshops (Bilingual)

Digwyddiadau ar stondin Amgueddfa Cymru, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Fflint 2016/Activities on Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales’s stall, Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

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Menter gymdeithasol wedi’i leoli yn Ne Cymru yw Dyma’ch Cyfle, yn gweithio tuag at greu cyfleoedd i amrywiaeth o bobl sydd am brofi ac ymateb i chwaraeon, celfyddyd, diwylliant a digwyddiadau byw

  • Mae Dyma’ch Cyfle’n arddangos gweithgaredd ar wefan cylchgrawn ar-lein http://getthechance.wales/
  • Mae’r wefan yn cynnwys gweithgreddau gweithdy, adolygiadau, erthyglau golygyddol a llawer mwy
  • Mae’r wefan yn blatfform i’n haelodau i rannu, trafod a gwerthuso eu hymatebion personol gyda’u rhwydweithiau a’r byd ben baladr
  • Dyma’ch Cyfle yw’r gymdeithas sy’n cynrychioli aelodau Beirniaid Ifanc Cymru, Beirniaid Cymunedol Cymru a 3ydd Act

Digwyddiadau ar stondin Amgueddfa Cymru, Eisteddfod yr Urdd Fflint 2016

 Dydd Mercher, 1 Mehefin 11:00 – Gweithdy Beirniadu gydag Aneirin Karadog

Dydd Iau, 2 Mehefin 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Gweithdai Beirniadu Dyma’ch Cyfle

 

Get The Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales, working to create opportunities for a diverse range of people to experience and respond to sport, arts, culture and live events

  • Get The Chance uses its online magazine website http://getthechance.wales/ to showcase its activity
  • The website content will feature workshop activity and outcomes, reviews, editorial features and much more
  • Our website is a platform for our members to share, discuss and evaluate their personal responses with their networks and the wider world
  • Get the Chance is the host organisation for members of Young Critics Wales, Community Critics Wales and 3rd Act Critics

 Activities on Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales’s stall, Urdd Eisteddfod 2016

 Wednesday, 1 June 11:00 – Critic Workshop with Aneirin Karadog (Welsh language)

Thursday, 2 June 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 – Get a Chance Critic Workshops (Bilingual)

Review Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology by Kirsty Ackland

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in collaboration with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. The response below is from Kids in Museums volunteer Kirsty Ackland. Hi name is Kirsty Ackland, and I am a volunteer from Kids in Museums I have been working with Young Critics on this new project with National Musem’s Wales . I am also a first year archaeology student at Cardiff University, and I am well known as a history nerd!

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At first glance, the exhibition seems like a fantastic walk through ‘treasures’ of the past. On entry (after perhaps a slightly overpriced fee, cost adults £7, concessions £5, 16s & under free) all seems well with designs obviously targeted for kids and families. However on closer inspection, it seems that everything is a little too large and impressive, with much of the decoration put up for atmosphere taking away from the actual artefacts on display.

These artefacts, arranged in what appears to be chronological order (although no exact civilisation dates are given), are mostly replicas, which seems odd considering you are paying £7 to see actual archaeology. Much debate with our group afterwards revealed an interesting point about when exactly replicas become historical objects themselves. On the other hand, when museum archives are full of other perfectly acceptable ‘real’ pieces I feel this argument become a little invalid.

Moving on to how the information was displayed, this all seemed a little confusing. Some labels for artefacts were not related to the cases they were displayed in, and on one occasion you actually have to stand at a particular angle to notice it. It is also difficult to determine which of the larger displays relate to a specific cabinet for the story to flow. This all seems indicative of a rushed exhibit, and judging by how much bigger the hall is compared to the space used, I would say it could have been better thought out.

From an archaeological perspective there are some really great aspects within the exhibition. It utilises artefacts from both Wales and abroad, and there is even a real mummified body on central display, complete with its very own CT scan. Exciting, but for the other artefacts, there is little if any explanation of what they may have been used for, and virtually no interactivity based on archaeology at all. There is a nice little video area where you can learn about the history of archaeology and the origins of some of the major discoveries, such as the South American communities; and a display describing the issues with fake artefacts. This is all very interesting, and easy to discover if you have a day to spend simply reading and learning.

Preview-of-new-exhibition-at-National-Museum-CardiffThe real “selling point”, is of course the Indiana Jones section of the exhibit. This is very exciting for adults reliving their childhood, as there are Crystal Skulls and in all its glory the outfit Indie himself wore in the films. During our discussion the question was raised as to how many children these days would be interested in a franchise from the 1980’s, but from the reactions of the children there, perhaps the old costume was working as intended. Again however this raises an issue with me personally. The idea that the museum is paying George Lucas/Lucasfilm to hire a costume that has already made him millions – and I may add will continue to do so-seems strange to me. Usually advertisements work the other way around. What makes this worse is that the museum is already paying to house objects in their archives. Quite honestly this exhibit would be just as good without the Indiana Jones appeal and thus could save the museum a few quid … which could quite easily end up back in the pocket of the general public.

All in all, this exhibit would be quite good as a full day’s exploration to get your money’s worth. The affect of inspiring a generation of budding archaeologists is one that you could certainly feel from this exhibit. Everything had the wow factor that could light up a child’s imagination-or explode it. Much of the exhibition was celebrating archaeology, a subject which is all but glamorous, and had the effect of organised chaos, which from a family perspective, would not be wanted

Review Treasures National Museum Wales by Lois Arcari

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in collaboration with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. The response below is from Young Critic Lois Arcari.

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Ken Skates The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism at the launch of Treasures

The debates we have as part of our union with the Welsh National museum always prove that our combined aim – to make museum culture as interactive as possible, is one that only needs to be brought out and shared – our observations and opinions as immediate, magnetic and dynamic as with any other medium, the background stories to the exhibits on display are equally as fascinating.

Promoting museum culture as one that is inclusive, rather than exclusive, and more actively evolving than you may first think, is precisely why we’re part of these regular events.

Last week marked the start of another insight into widening public appreciation and interaction, and general museum culture; all hinged upon the new Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology exhibition.

This is the recently erected exhibit promising a bold new direction for the museum, one centred on a family orientated entertainment experience to become an inspiring gateway into museums for those unlikely to normally attend, was the promised fulfilled?

Well, that was the central topic of debate, with many insights and observations thrown into the mix.I feel that ultimately, it was mis-marketed. With unprecedented attention being given to the museum exhibit – an article on Walesonline not generally seen as par for the course – the focus was on the concept of Indiana Jones, on a new trail blazed for a new audience. The exhibit showed symptoms of both how quickly it was made, in relative time, and of the many debates behind the scenes on focus – areas such as participation offset by traditional ideas all very interesting, but not on the minds of families setting foot into the space. Unfocused seemed to be the prescriptive word, with minimal interaction – tentatively promised to be rectified – offset against rather standard pieces. The real highlights of the exhibit – a scan of the entombed mummy, and the stories behind the objects seemed to get lost in an odd traditionalism offset against a brilliantly atmospheric design.

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The objects were all interesting, but there seemed to be minimal coherence – some objects more easily appealing to adults than children, some with minimal information, others with information that was hard to access, hidden in corners, or betrayed by font, for example. Everything seemed almost annoyingly tantalising – this far and no further – emphasized by the size of the exhibition.

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In the meeting afterwards with museum staff and participants, there were many discussions about colonialism and just what the word treasures meant; to the general public, museum staff, parents and children. Whilst there was discussion of introducing an alternative way of thinking about archeology as less moral than we’d first suspect, I think that would be at a rather painful odds with the Indiana Jones theme, and that suggestion towards these ideas, rather than any preaching, would be a great way to make children feel more involved and respected and introduce a different way of thinking. With a different focus the exhibition could be wonderful – but it seems like a forced response rather than an organic commitment to criticism of museum culture, and the marketing focusing on the film seems to be playing it up rather too much, though to its credit the museum itself does seem a lot more balanced with the marketing.

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As it stands, with a discussion into some of the rich and fascinating cultures, and the ethics of archeology, the exhibit could be decent for a young fan of the time period, rather than of the franchise attached. Add in more transparency about the volunteers roles, and a chat with them, and the exhibit will be mined for its worth. With a hefty price tag attached, this seems to be a misconceived remarketing of old ideas and old pieces rather than the new push it promised, and unless a family has prepared for the day out with discussion and research or wants a new angle on a school topic, and is prepared for some hard work getting the most out of the exhibit, it seems a tad misleading.

 

 

 

The Museum Critics An insight into National Museum Cardiff by Amelia Seren Roberts

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants our last response is from artist Amelia Seren Roberts.

This blog post is reproduced from Amelia’s original blog which can be found at 

AMELIA SEREN ROBERTS: IVOR DAVIES AND DESTRUCTION IN ART –

At the Natio… http://ameliaseren.blogspot.com/2015/12/ivor-davies-and-destruction-in-art-at.html?spref=tw

IVOR DAVIES AND DESTRUCTION IN ART 

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At the National Museum of Wales.
Curated by Judit Bognor.

I recently attended a tour of the Ivor Davies retrospective hosted by Judit Bognor, co-curator of the exhibition and tutor on the MFA at Cardiff School of Art & Design.

Judit began by explaining that the show was a solo show, rather than a group exhibition. In terms of curatorial practice, if the show is to contain different works by a group of artists, a topic or theme may be chosen before or after the exhibiting group is decided.
In this case, NMW was to show a retrospective of Ivor Davies’ practice. It is unusual for a gallery or museum to show a single artist’s work unless they are well-established.

The usual format of such retrospectives is a chronological one, starting at the early works and ending at the newer works; the intention of such is to show the development of an artists practice throughout their career. Other, non-chronological, approaches to displaying the pieces may include grouping by topic or materials.

In the case of Ivor Davies’ exhibition, the works are shown in reverse-chronological order, starting at the most recent works, and developing to focus on more early examples. The freedom Judit was allowed to curate with was partially due to the artworks being largely sourced from outside collections. When an artwork is in a permanent collection, the owner has say over when, where and how a work is presented, as such the curators input may be limited.
Judit drew attention to the relationship that exists between the artist, curator and institution when organising exhibitions. She spoke of the conflict often experienced between the ideas of the curator, the artist’s intentions for the work, and the institutional context.

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Judit expanded on the reasoning behind the title of the exhibition; a common thread that her colleagues and herself had recognised within the work over the whole of the artist’s career was that of destruction and creation, material transformation, and of durational thought. This was evidenced in works that developed during a symposium Ivor co-organised in the Sixties on the topic of destruction in art. Works related to the theme, as well as an archive of over 300 documents are shown alongside informative texts.

What interested me about the consistent theme of this exhibition was its relevance to a contemporary political context. A large number of the works having been created around the time of the Cold War, when the risk of nuclear devastation was a very real threat, the questions the works raise about destruction seem all the more poignant. Whether a deliberate comment or not, the timing of the exhibition, which coincides with Britain currently seeming on the brink of conflict, means that its concerns have become relevant once more.

It is important when considering whether an exhibition and the specific works within it require accompanying texts, the establishment within which the works are shown. It is more likely that simple, explanatory text in large print would be seen alongside works in a public museum, than would in a contemporary art gallery. This is because the curator must consider whether such interventions are appropriate in the context of the work and venue, and within this must select written supporting materials which suitably reflect the varying interests and academic capabilities of the reader. In this case, because the exhibition is sited at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, the audience is varied in age, ability and interests and thus large, simple explanatory text is appropriately shown in each room, whilst smaller texts are shown alongside specific works should the viewer choose to engage with the show in more depth. It is the viewer themselves in this case who decides their individual level of interaction with the show.
An interesting question thrown up by the curation of the exhibition is of how the viewer might experience a performance durationally. In this case, the curator has chosen to display a video recording of the performance, as well as a re-staging of one performance itself. Alongside this, an archive of materials surrounding the performance are exhibited which detail documentation of the memory of the event, instructions (or scores) for the performance, sketches and other ephemera.

Judit spoke briefly about the difficulties the team had experienced when considering how best to re-stage a historic performance in a contemporary setting. This is a topic that I have discussed once before whilst at the New Walk Gallery in Leicester, following their purchase of a performance piece by contemporary artist, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. The difficulties in the conservation, and re-staging of a performance piece (especially a historic example) lie in the inability of the curator or institution to ever accurately re-create the exact context in which the work was first performed. Judit has approached this, whilst in conversation with the artist, by following the original scores of the performance, whilst adapting a proportion of them to fit more appropriately in to a museum context. Working in this way raises interesting questions about where the artwork exists and whether a performance work can ever truly be recreated or owned.

For me, the highlights of the exhibition include a painting by Ivor Davies which invites the viewer to ‘Ysgrifennwch graffiti prioddul ar fur y capel gyda’r sialc sydd yma’ (Write graffiti on the side of the chapel with the chalk); and in the archive, a darkly humorous newspaper article written by Robin Page entitled ‘Death and Art’ which cynically reports on an artform which involves the expressive act of stamping frogs to death whilst wearing a silver jumpsuit.
To see more information about the show, please visit the National Museum Wales, or take a look at their website here.

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The Museum Critics an insight into National Museum Cardiff by Lois Arcari

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Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up Young Critic, Lois Arcari.

Death of the Author – all great works must bow to it, to be thought as of such.What about great places, prompting great memories and passions? Response breaths life to art, in quiet thought and idle conversation just as much as any great debate. The spectator as creator needs to be accepted…. are they?

This is what the Young Critics, Kids in Museums and 3rd Act Critics teamed up to discuss this previous weekend, in the beautiful National Museum, Cardiff, looking at completely contrasting exhibits to try and form a coherent narrative on why and how museums deserve to grow, with accessibility and increased open dialogue in mind.The day pointed out diversity spectacularly in both exhibits and response.

The new and hotly anticipated ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ exhibition, with props and inspiration from the Indiana Jones franchise certainly aims to tear down any expectations of the fusty and austere in modern museums.

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Crystal Skull. Photograph © Musée du Quai Branly, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrick Gries / Valérie Torre

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/8641/Treasures-Adventures-in-Archaeology/

How far can one exhibit go – even with a much-loved film series behind it? It remains to be seen, debuting in January 2016  as a priced exhibition for the museum. Even cynics must admit the reaction it gets will certainly be as very interesting as it’s spectators are interested. And, as everyone shall be pleased to hear, actively sought out as well as listened to.

Luckily, the two exhibits we saw, in the fresh and present, offered a beguiling contrast, from the geology and maps of William Smith to the gleefully anarchic meditations on destruction of Ivor Davies. Practical concerns were made –  volume, fonts size, positioning, as well as the more abstract – how to make sure potentially dry subjects could prove to compel people outside of their specialism, and how the more obviously popular could lead onto the obscure, and be given equal fervour. Each were enticing for different reasons, my personal favorite the expansive Davies exhibit, hinged on a universal themes, explored in different, and all intriguing facets – the maps were harder to match up to, the direction of pull for the general public unclear, the room itself as liable, before exploration, to feel cold as calm and contemplative.          

The central humanity of each exhibit, thematically or narratively, with Smith the heroic everyman was a draw to each critic, all agreeing to it as the sometimes hidden central selling point of any exhibition, the lives behind the art  being enlightened preventing any feelings of imposition.

Discussion was ever encouraged and enlightened, the real, vested interest palpable. Museums that care as much about their audience as artists as the linear type  are destined to survive any challenges, and this day, and what was shown through it, were brilliant examples.

 

The Museum Critics An Insight into National Museum Cardiff by James Briggs

National_Museum_Cardiff

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up Young Critic James Briggs.

Cardiff is continuing to grow enormously as a city and so is its status within Europe. Along with large growth within Cardiff we also have the National Museum continuing to grow, the museum houses some of Wales’ most famous pieces of art ranging from Ivor Davies to dinosaur bones, there is something for everyone. It is therefore particularly important that the museums are providing their visitors with what they want.

On the day we were very fortunate to be given a tour around certain parts of the museum. This was done to assist the members of staff at the museum with feedback on how the exhibits are designed and how it can be made more appealing for the members of the public visiting. We found when doing this it is in fact very difficult to come up with a wide range of criticisms, this mainly due to the fact that there is a large age range that must be catered for when people visit the museum; primarily young children and families and the older generation. Both of these age groups have very different needs and expect to see different things when visiting an art gallery or museum. It is this gap that needs to be bridged to ensure each and every person that visits the museum experiences everything they expected and more.

By attending an event such as this one you are given a unique insight into the world behind the museum doors and what it is like creating unique displays and galleries to really show off the amazing pieces of art. It was made apparent during the day to us that the job of a designer for a museum art installation is very similar to that of someone who works for the stage with directing and creating scenery for musical shows in theatre. This means that when going to the various parts of the museum today we were able to use our skills and expertise from critiquing musicals and plays to looking at displays and art. Much of what you see when at a museum is simply theatre with the use of lighting and sound effects to stimulate visitor’s senses; the only big difference is however we the public never get to see who created the staging for the artwork to be displayed on.

It will also be very interesting to see the response after Christmas when the new Indiana Jones themed exhibition ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ will open for the first time in the UK.

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http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/8641/Treasures-Adventures-in-Archaeology/

I found it highly interesting today to look at the effects of production companies using the museum for TV programmes and Films such as Doctor Who. We also assessed if this could be used to draw more visitors in to see the exhibits. If this is the case could we be seeing far more interactive exhibitions in the future that follow the theme of the movies and television? Only time will tell.

 

THE MUSEUM CRITICS AN INSIGHT INTO NATIONAL MUSEUM CARDIFF BY ANETTE WELLS

CARDIFF NATIONAL MUSEUM_22

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up is Kids in Museums volunteer Annette Wells.

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The Remarkable Maps of William Smith

This exhibition is upstairs and to be honest, if I didn’t have to go in, I may not have done -or at least, I would have looked at other stuff first. I get why the bust of William Smith, flanked by giant maps is the first thing you see, but it failed to give me the WOW that exhibitions can do (and should do?). But out of the corner of my eye I spotted a cabinet. THis is a reconstruction of the system William Smith used to display his collections of fossils..all sloping to the right because that;s what geology does, I now know!

The maps are huge and I have to admit, mightily impressive. I’m sure there is a lot of interesting information on them, but it is so small, that even with the A4 magnifying sheets I still couldn’t read it. Note to self – ALWAYS REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR GLASSES TO EXHIBITIONS! Our group was fortunate enough to be shown around by members of staff who filled in some of the missing bits, but if you’re not that fortunate, then just marvel. And I did find myself marvelling by the time I left.

There is just enough information on the panels. I’m not much of a reader, so once I’d looked at the objects – geology specimens and William Smith’s notebooks mainly – I did have a read. I’m glad I did. William Smith led an extraordinary life. From humble beginnings he led the way for geoloical map recording and in so doing put a spanner in the works for the many unscrupulous Victorian geological surveyors who up til then seemed to have free reign to ‘find’ and charge what they liked to hopeful/greedy/innocent/naive (delete according to your own convictions) landowners hoping to make a fortune from the mineral deposits under their feet. I also learnt that he spent time in a debtors prison.

The exhibition design was very traditional. The panels made for easy reading and the object labels complemented them, which I liked. There was the obligatory interactive, and I mean that in a positive way. It was beautifully constructed and thought out, but it flummuxed me. But that might have been just me! The exhibition is bilingual and the lighting and contrasts are good.

Although I grew to enjoy this exhibition, It is unclear whether this is an exhibition of the maps, which are remarkable actually, or whether it was an exhibition about a remarkable man. You go. You decide. But do visit!image_preview

 

The Ivor Davies Destruction in Art Archive

This exhibition is in THE BEST SPACE EVER! Immediately it felt monumental. The exhibition charts Ivor Davies’s work from 1950s to his more recent work, but concentrating on his work in 1960s with the destruction in art group. There is alot to look at. Running the length of both walls and a lot of it is very similar. In the centre of the gallery is a reworking of his Swansea project. Worth watching for a while, although I’m not sure I saw anywhere near all of it. Maybe that’s the point..that you can come in and out? Well thats what I did.

As usual, the arty farty way of labelling contemporary artworks which means that you have to search for information, prevails. This simply serves to make anyone who may be out of their comfort zone, even more so. Please don’t do it. If something needs a label make it obvious. If it doesn’t, then leave it out.

This exhibition is bilingual too, but I felt that the contrast was not strong enough for the Welsh text which may mean that some people might struggle to read it.

I have to say that I wasn’t overly keen on the work on display and prefer other works that wern’t there, but as an experience, it is an exhibition you should give a go. If only to look knowledgeable next time you have to name an internationally important Welsh artist!

The Museum Critics an insight into National Museum Cardiff by Eleanor Dobson

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Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, firstly Kids in Museums volunteer Eleanor Dobson.

The day was extremely enjoyable and offered me an insight, in extraordinary detail, into the inner workings of a museum. I felt myself becoming increasingly aware of the importance of understanding the expressions that are part of an exhibition. With this I was able to develop the skills to both criticise and value various elements of the areas we explored.

The first exhibition, Reading the Rocks: the Remarkable Maps of William Smith

Geological 3205
Geological 3205

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/8508/Reading-the-Rocks-the-Remarkable-Maps-of-William-Smith/

This was a wonderful start to give us a chance to act both as a first time audience and test our skills at critiquing. I truly appreciate the level to which we were listened to, and the extent to which our thoughts were valued. Furthermore, the environment and the format that we gave our feedback in – standing and discussing as a group –was a fantastic way for people to express their thoughts in a non-threatening or intimidating environment.

The second exhibition, Silent Explosion: Ivor Davies and Destruction in Art

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http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/8579/Silent-Explosion-Ivor-Davies-and-Destruction-in-Art/

Again this was also a brilliant way to test the skills we developed from the previous experience, and ensured that we could also develop further our thoughts. This was because it was a completely different style and format. The only suggestion that I could make to improve on this particular part of the day, is that I would suggest that the curators tell us which parts they feel needed improving, and reflected their own thoughts on the exhibition. This way we could have offered practical advice that would have conformed their personal aims. However sometimes I felt that our criticism and suggestions went off topic slightly. For example, if they could suggest which target audience they are aiming to impress. This is only because, as I am from Kid in Museums, although I didn’t feel the exhibits were child friendly, they were extremely impressive and interesting from an adult perspective. With this in mind, it would be good to know if this is what they were aiming for, and then we could criticise them effectively.

Overall the day was fabulous. It enhanced my knowledge and skills in critiquing museum exhibits. I was enlightened into the different elements of creating a museum. Alongside this I was made to feel that I was making a positive contribution to the National Museum. I would be delighted to be allowed to take-part again, and hopefully become more confident in expressing pragmatic feedback.