In November, 2010, as part of a funded project, “The Museum as a resource for inspiring teaching and learning”, first year BA students in Design and Visual Arts were set a brief “Make your own Museum”. The purpose was: firstly to visit the public galleries to draw and study, secondly offering opportunity for the first year to experience a guided study trip to the stores, learning more about the collections and thirdly: to begin to research into and consider what is meant by the cultures of collecting and the diversity and values of collections. A further aim, through response to the brief set, was to encourage reflection on why and how artists / designers both themselves commonly collect and respond to collections in their work.
Around forty students visited the Entomology and Archaeology departments and responses were very positive. Students reported feeling privileged to see the collections and to observe the enthusiasm, knowledge and openness of the curators. Most students had not been to the museum or were aware of the resource centre, or opportunity to visit the stores by arrangement for detailed study. Students were particularly inspired by seeing objects without the barrier of glass and being able to photograph specimens / items at close quarters.
The work here is made by Adam Wilson, the student who, in response to the brief, chose to make journeys along a local river, collecting ‘found objects’ along the way and photographing birds he saw on the water. He bottled, displayed and labelled items such as river water, snails, fishing hooks and playing cards. Inspired by the pinning system in Entomology collections, he documented the location of these findings with, maps, pins and sketches.
The book, “Thesaurus Scienta Lancastriae”, by Robert Williams (Cornerhouse Publications) provided research inspiration for this project – the collaborative work of a father and six year old son, Aylward, whose exploration of the natural world in a local park in Lancaster, translates to the reader through the observant and fascinated perspective of his son.
I wish to thank Ms Eleanor Mulhearn <email@example.com>, a teacher on the Design and Visual arts BA at Stockport College, for making this report available to visitors of the ‘Entomology Manchester’ blog.