Exercise 3: Exhibitions – big and small

I have carried out some research into exhibitions that are both big and small. I like the idea that museums have open storage for items that would not normally be on display. This kind of display is not a typical exhibition, you would not be able to look at each display in one visit but for students, researchers and artists it’s a great tool to help with their work. As well as visible storage galleries, museums are creating research rooms where we can handle objects. This way communities can be brought together to understand what can and can’t be shown, especially when dealing with sensitive materials. Not everything that museums own can be exhibited all of the time and quite often this is the response from visitors, it is a shame that this is not possible, but by creating open storage it should help the viewer see the bigger collection. There will also be items that are extremely light sensitive and so exposure would be avoided and will need continuous protection or items that are perceived as erotic content and so not suitable for children to see. It would seem that we are returning to the old concept of how museums in the 19th century would have everything on display, there is the obvious change in display cases and containers and lighting styles but the idea is the same.

On a regular basis I am enjoying the contents of emporiums, warehouses stacked with furniture where you can buy pre loved items and give them a new lease of life. In a way these spaces are exhibiting their wares. This excites me, I do buy brand new items but many can lack character and buying an item that would have been enjoyed by other humans brings me so much joy, there is a story behind every piece of furniture and by bringing them into your own home or a clients home continues that story and journey. I have grown up in a throw away society and since having my own family I appreciate items so much more, the general rule in my home is that if it’s not broken why try and fix it. You can alter the style, look and overall aesthetic of any piece of furniture but just as easily tweek it to suit your own style, place it in another room to give it a new purpose and just as importantly leave it just as it is, it was designed and made in that way which, in my opinion, makes it a much more charismatic piece.

Walking around a warehouse full of furniture, vintage clothing, bric a brac, paintings, books, vinyls is like walking around an exhibition, an obvious difference is that they are all not labelled explaining their design and journey to that point but all of it can still be enjoyed and admired and the end result is that you can purchase a piece and take it on a new journey through your life. Maybe I have an unnatural attachment to such items but they do make me feel alive!

Can you exhibit just one item? I’m really not sure that you can, I ask myself is it possible to tell a story with just one item? It can be done but would be very limited in my exhibition. Unless of course you have lots of similar size items and temporarily bind them together in a way that makes it look like one item? All of the basketry made from around the world could be bound together with the same material to create one large exhibition piece.

I have a narrative for an imaginary exhibition. My story will begin with a sensory space, images projected onto a wall of basketry being made whilst music and sounds are played through a soundscape (sounds and image as a piece of artwork on the wall), it will continue to play on a loop. The lighting will be soft creating a calm atmosphere before entering the main exhibition space. At the beginning of the exhibition will be a display of materials, tools and archive news. The narrator will tell the story of each object on display by displaying text in the form of a sign. The path will lead from the sensory room into the exhibition space and the first exhibit that you arrive at once you enter those doors. The journey will take you through a story behind each design. The context will be a description about the material; where is the material grown, how is it grown and looked after, when is it cut and what is that process, this information must include historic process and design. It will be imperative to include the creators themselves, a little back story of how they came to make the basketry, a wall of photographs showing their faces, which will end the exhibition. My exhibition will include sensory areas, where you can touch, feel and smell the designs evoking emotions, how it makes you feel. There will also be a table with materials and tools, along with instructions, for adults and children to create their own piece of basketry to take home with them as a reminder of their time at the exhibition.

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