It is my third week at the Museum, and it has been a busy one before I leave on the 17th of October. This week I visited the Museum Collections Centre in Duddeston, home to all the objects not currently on site at Museums across Birmingham, I ran a ‘Big Print’ workshop on the 4th of October in my studio as one of many activities taking place within the Museum as part of Fun Palaces, and I have been working on my ideas for the Final work.
During my time at the Museum I have been carrying out research into pieces held at the Museum to generate a new piece of work in response to what I have seen. Taking inspiration from artists such as Hans Sebald Beham and Helen Chadwick who have used a circular shape within their work, I have been playing with this circular form as a basis to my work. When looking at these artists I became aware of the effect the circular form had on me as a viewer, the shape draws your attention into the image having associations with an old fashioned peep hole of which to view others through.
Here is a piece I am working on that incorporates this circular frame:
I have been playing with the use of coiled newsprint paper to form a circular surface on which to screen print upon, I am interested in the distortion of imagery to create a closer inspection from the viewer. During my residency I have seen many images that observe women carrying out certain actions from bathing to changing to sleeping, all private and quite intimate acts however, they are on display for us to observe. It is the subject of women and their image which I think I will focus on as the basis to my piece.
I wanted to learn more about how other artists have used photography within their work to stage certain acts and how they use technology to distort the images they work with. Two artists that do this are Mohammed Bourouissa and Semyon Faibisovich, artists who have pieces held at the Museum Collections Centre (MCC). It was a great opportunity to view the pieces in person and see the techniques used by the artists.
Semyon Faibisovich’s images examine contemporary urban life in his home town of Moscow and particularly the lives of those at the bottom of the social ladder. Using a mobile phone, Faibisovich takes photographs of people on the streets and uses these low resolution images to make his oil paintings, enlarging the images to life size and then painting over the image creating pixelated distortions. This was clear when up close to the works entitled Repose, from At the Stop series, 2009 and Sick on the Way?, 2008 from the same series.
Mohammed Bourouissa is an Algerian photographer who uses staged photography to create images that appear real, often depicting moments of physical or emotional tension through the careful arrangement of people and their gestures. They leave you questioning what has happened in the image or what will happen, I like the suspense he creates leaving you wanting more. I saw La rencontre (The Meeting) and Le toit (The Roof), 2005-2007 during my visit to the MCC and both looked at this tension between the characters depicted.
After viewing these specific pieces I spent the rest of my time exploring the vast number of objects and works stored within the centre, it is very easy to get carried away! These are just some of the things I came across:
The Museum Collections Centre (MCC) has a huge natural history collection, with examples of taxidermy ranging from delicate butterflies to a brown bear! Although not relevant to my practical work it was fascinating to see such an array of animals dating back from the 1800’s.
The MCC holds open afternoons for the public on the last Friday of every month and are open for pre-arranged tours and study days, for more information or to make a booking visit: www.bmag.org.uk/Museum-collections-centre.
Finally, thank you to everyone who came to ‘The Big Print’ drop in session to have a taster of what you can achieve through printmaking. From 11-4pm the studio was full of people experimenting with polystyrene prints and mono printing, some fantastic work was made which people could take home or add to the ‘Big Print’ wall in my studio to remain till the end of my residency.
Next week will be my final as artist in residence at BMAG, it has gone so quickly! I am keen to hold one last printing workshop, this time with adults, taking place on Friday the 17th of October between 12.30-2.30pm. We will be making bookmarks inspired by Edward Burne-Jones intricate woodblock patterns I came across in the collections using a Lino print.
Here is one of Edward Burne-Jones’s designs in the collection originally made for the boarder of a book to get you started:
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence
My name is Mariyam and I work as a Collections Support Officer at the Museum Collections Centre (often abbreviated as the MCC). The MCC is one of Birmingham Museum Trust’s sites and houses the reserve collections (those objects currently not on display) for all eight of our museums: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, ThinkTank Science Museum, Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House and Weoley Castle. Our collections are so extensive that only a small proportion can ever be shown all at once.
When thinking of visiting Birmingham’s sites you can be forgiven for overlooking the large, unsightly, industrial warehouse that is the MCC. However it is within such an unexpected and inconspicuous venue that you can discover much of the city’s rich and notable heritage.
The store, which sits just outside the heart of the city centre, is immense in size, measuring 9000m2 across 3 floors, 4 stores and a vast warehouse space, which further contains 10 km of aisle upon aisle of storage racking.
With approximately 800,000 objects spanning over thousands of years and an enormous breadth of artefacts, artwork, textiles and taxidermy that come from all over the world (and from just down the road) the stores tell a million stories.
Since opening its doors to the public in 2006 the store has become one of largest most accessible collections centres in the UK. Not only providing a research facility for curators and academics but enabling a ‘behind the scenes’ look for community and school groups through a variety of talks, workshops and guided tours. We also hold special events such as our atmospheric Halloween Evening and two Open Days a year.
To make your own discoveries come along to our next open day taking place this Sunday 18th August from 11am – 5pm (last entry 4pm). The theme of this event is animals and nature and families will love our visitors from Animalmania, Hatton Bug Zoo and the Falconry Centre. For more information visit www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=2552.
Alternatively book yourself onto one of our afternoon tours (last Friday of every month) – for information on bookings and access to the site please contact: Louise.Alden@birminghammuseums.org.uk.
To keep up to date with the MCC you can follow us on Facebook and look out for future blogs about the work taking place at the MCC from the Collection Support Officer Team.
Collections Support Officer