Study Visit – The Shipley Art Gallery: 14th April 2017

Why visit?

This museum is local to myself and the ideal place to come to terms with a museum artefact setting.  Full of both localised and national collections; some gifted by The Victoria and Albert Museum.

I have decided to remind myself of a few highlights here in this post.

I was especially attracted to visit after seeing this advertised:

Companion Pieces

To celebrate 100 years since the Gallery doors opened to the public to present the Shipley’s bequest collection, and 40 years since the first items were purchased to build the now nationally important contemporary craft collection, the Shipley Art Gallery presents a new showcase exhibition.

Companion Pieces brings together different parts of the collection based upon themes to show the range of techniques and ideas used to explore subjects.

Works are presented in relation to various themes including Adam and Eve, the Body Beautiful, Visions of Gateshead, the Japanese Connection and Morals and Politics.


This piece above, was the one used in the advertising; it sparked my interest, due to its artefact tone.  I have one of these old fashioned wooden printing trays at home and have always wondered what to do with it.  This use with objects cut to size, all on a theme, resonated with me.

Simply named ‘Gateshead in a box’ 2011.  Made by Paul Scott.

It was commissioned by the art gallery itself, in order to communicate the north easts political and social history to the public.  Old maps, postcards and tiles sourced from this area were all used.  It has transpired to be a “memory of the people”.

Encased in a glass box, it also becomes another idea of how to place archive collections or artefacts together in one setting.  What would my “box” be?  What would it contain?  I ask myself.

Another piece which had a twisted modern aspect was this:

Made in 2011, it conveys the modern family.  Set in an old fashioned 20th century ornamental style, I enjoy this piece because it surprises us.  From a distance, it looks like many a ceramic piece, made for decorative use or to become part of a collection.  However when we observe, we see the brash red and yellow of the fast food chain.  Yet on reflection, the piece does not look out of place.  It is a realistic, yet sad view of modern society.  This piece is housed the same as all the museum pieces, thus it in itself becomes a modern museum piece; it sits well.

Above:  Some of the sculptures observed.  I was particularly intrigued with the ones bottom right.  Made by Claire Curneen.  I noticed the work straight away, as I recognised the style from a previous gallery.  A few sketches:


The Gold on the faces and hands, in contrast to the seemingly humble clay…why?  Via research I found that this was symbolic, in order to illustrate how precious our hands and face are.  The two materials provide a stark contrast and seem to bounce off each other in a “poles apart” way.

I love the obvious moulding by hand on these pieces.  They have character and almost moulding marks, where the artist has played with the shape of the clay.  Could I put my own personal touch as it were on my work?


Above:  Stoneware such as this piece captured my interest, due to its likeness with the ancient Greek pottery I have been attracted to recently (see other posts on my blog).  It looks older than it actually is, as you can see 1974.  Could this theme of influences from the past merging into contemporary work, be one I think about myself?

This museum has very well placed exhibits and notices to inform. Take this case in point.  Within a section on design, it illustrates what a mood board for a designer may look like.  Look at the pockets of colour and vibrancy of resources.

This particular board was based on ideas from the museum, so that observers could like the ideas seen to an actual source.  These boards, as I know from personal experience, help to glean early concepts together and create links to either dismiss or take forward.

One last highlight for myself was this piece:DSC_0065  Simply named ‘Felt’.  At first glace it lacks meaning.  Yet on further reading we find that it was inspired by the novel by Louis de Beaneries’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.  The hidden meaning here is in the felt.  Wool can be a heavy material to bear on ones body, both in temperature and at times weight, especially when wet.  Thus this conveys the idea of War, also being a hard weight to bear.  A marriage of meanings well illustrated here, in a humble form, echoing discomfort felt in both cases.

Made by artist Heather Bletcher in 2000.

Could I bring a marriage of meanings into my own sample making, like the piece above?  What emotional responses do I allude to my own life and practice; would this come from my own personal history?

Other comments and illustrations made by myself from this exhibition are found in my physical sketchbooks, taken with me on Study Visits.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s