Tag Archive | Museum Collections Centre

Artist in Residence Jodie Wingham – Week Three

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.

Vanity by Helen Chadwick

Vanity by Helen Chadwick
© The Helen Chadwick Estate, Courtesy of the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London

Here is a piece I am working on that incorporates this circular frame:

Jodie's work in progress

My work in progress incorporating a 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.

Jodie's work in progress

My artwork using a coiled newsprint paper

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.

Repose by Semyon Faibisovich

Repose © Semyon Faibisovich

Close up of Repose by Semyon Faibisovich

Close up of Repose by Semyon Faibisovich

Sick on the Way? by Semyon Faibosovich

Sick on the Way? and close up of the artwork (right) © Semyon Faibosovich

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.

La rencontre (The Meeting) by Mohammed Bourouissa

La rencontre (The Meeting) © Mohammed Bourouissa

Le toit (The Roof) by Mohammed Bourouissa

Le toit (The Roof) © Mohammed Bourouissa

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 butterfly collection at the Museum Collections Centre

The butterfly collection at the Museum Collections Centre

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.

Display at the Museum Collections Centre

Bottle display at the Museum Collections Centre

Oliver Cromwell's Death Mask

Oliver Cromwell’s Death Mask at the 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.

The Big Print poster

The Big Print poster at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG)

The ‘Big Print’ wall in the activity zone studio

The ‘Big Print’ wall in the activity zone studio at BMAG

Some examples of work made on the day

Examples of prints created in the session

A print made during the 'Big Print'

A print made during the ‘Big Print’ workshop

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:

One of Edward Burne-Jones’s designs

One of Edward Burne-Jones’s designs

Jodie Wingham,
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence Sarah Taylor Silverwood – Week 3

This week I have been to the Museum Collections Centre, I’ve been taking photographs on the roof of the gallery, and I ran a ‘Big Buildings’ drawing workshop. It has been really busy but full of inspiration and I’ve made a start of the final work I’m producing for the residency.

I want to produce a view of Birmingham inspired by some of the topographical views in the collection. When looking through these works, I have been trying to work out what angle they are taken from. It is difficult to find a good viewpoint (often people use a bit of artistic license to get what they want in) so I have been trying to find the perfect spot to draw from. The new Library of Birmingham has some fantastic views, so I climbed to the 9th floor to see what part of the landscape I could get in:

View from the new Library of Birmingham

It wasn’t quite the right angle, and I wanted to get something that looked out from BMAG if possible. The BMAG security team took me up onto the roof of the gallery. The views are incredible, especially looking back at the library – you can see the tiny figures in the roof garden.

View of new Library of Birmingham

The roof space above Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Alongside finding the right viewpoint I wanted to explore more of the work in the collection so spent a day at the Museum Collections Centre (MCC). It is a treasure trove of incredible things, from buttons to computers:

Buttons from the collections

An old computer at the Museum Collections Centre

I am particularly interested in the work of Samuel Lines, so Jo-Ann Curtis (Curator) showed me this sketch done in preparation for making the painting below. It seems much less restrained than some of the more finished pieces.

Samuel Lines sketch of Birmingham from the Dome of St Philip

Samuel Lines painting of Birmingham from the Dome of St Philip

Henry Harris Lines, eldest son of Samuel Lines, is a brilliant draughtsman and also uses Birmingham as the subject for his work.  These two pieces depict the city which is very different from today but still holds some recognisable features:

Henry Harris Lines sketch of Birmingham

Henry Harris Lines sketch of Birmingham

The formality and style of some of these prints of Birmingham architecture is something I’d like to replicate in my drawing:

Prints of St Pauls Chapel and the Free Grammar School, Birmingham

Print of the Free Grammar School, Birmingham

Finally I asked if we could look at some trade cards used by Birmingham based industries. They are beautiful objects in themselves, each full of intricate detail and typography. The importance of industry to Birmingham’s heritage is something I’d like to bring in to the new work. Thanks to Jo-Ann for a great day exploring the collections at MCC.

Trade card for portable gas stoves

Finally, thank you to everyone who came to the Big Buildings Workshop on Saturday 12th October! We had over 100 visitors in 2 hours and they created some beautiful artworks. Below are a few photos of the giant window landscapes:

Children drawing on the giant window at the workshop

The big buildings workshop giant window

Looking out of the giant window

Drawing of a building on the giant window

A drawing of a church on the giant window

Drawings of buildings on the giant window

Sarah inside the giant window landscape

And people also made their own big buildings to take home. Maisy Kate Neal made a drawing of the Council House and Art Gallery, and then collaged over it.

Collage of Birmingham Council House

Building collages made by children at the workshop

This is my final week at BMAG. On Wednesday I am running a final Open Studio from 1-4pm. Come and find out more about the Artist in Residence programme and the new artwork I am making. Also there is an opportunity to be a part of my new work. I am asking members of the public if I can photograph them to draw from. Thanks to all the members of the public who came to be photographed last week, this is Shengwei posing for hers:

Shengwei standing inside the giant window landscape

Sarah Taylor Silverwood,
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence

ICON HLF Intern in Preventive Conservation

Hi my name is Rose I am the new, ICON intern in preventive conservation at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and I will be here for 12 months. ICON (Institute of Conservation) gives people the great opportunity to gain valuable work experience through their internship scheme by closely working together with institutions such as Birmingham Museums Trust. These internships are funded by the National Lottery Fund.

My background, I have recently been awarded with the Masters in Conservation of Historical Objects from Lincoln University and with a degree in History of Art with Museum Studies. My practical work experience within conservation and the heritage sector is as a volunteer. I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity by ICON and Birmingham Museums Trust to work as part of a professional team to gain some much needed work experience in the field of conservation. I am particularly interested in preventive conservation and collections care, because I believe preventing objects from damage should always be the first approach when dealing with heritage objects.

Being a preventive conservation intern I am involved in a large number of projects related to collections care. This means I am dealing with objects that are on display in the galleries but also objects that are in storage. For example one of my key roles is looking after the Hanwell environmental monitoring system that records relative humidity (amount of moisture held in the air) temperature and light, as any of these factors can have long term damaging affects if not controlled. My role in relation to this is to check the incoming environmental data for any abnormalities.


Rose checking the Hanwell environmental monitoring system at BMAG.

One of the most important aspects in preventive conservation is managing the environment that surrounds the objects. The environment can be broken down into relative humidity, temperature, light and gaseous pollution. Objects can be permanently damaged when exposed to an unsuitable environment; therefore it is crucial for us to understand the environment in our galleries and storage space. In order to do this we monitor and record the environment with electronic loggers that you may have seen in the galleries. These record the environment in 15 minutes intervals and send the information down to our main computer where I check them. If the environmental data shows anything unusual we need and go and check the galleries to see what could have caused this.
Video of the Rose monitoring the relative humidity and UV light levels in the history galleries:

When objects are not on display in the gallery they need to be stored in a stable environment for their long term preservation, so a big chuck of preventive conservation deals with creating suitable storage solutions. As an intern I have been given a project to assess the silver collections storage environment. Silver is quite vulnerable to gaseous pollution as it easily tarnishes, which can be quite disfiguring. Unsuitable gaseous pollution can be given off by various things such as other objects, made of other kinds of materials, in close proximity.

To see if there are any particular areas of concern in the silver store I have started to set up an environmental monitoring system that records relative humidity and temperature, as high relative humidity in collaboration with gaseous pollution can support tarnishing.  


The button loggers that record the temperature and relative humidity in the silver stores.

In January I will also place little samples of silver, copper and lead throughout the store to see if they react to the surrounding environment, which could indicate if there is a problem of gaseous pollution.  

Video of Rose explaining the environmental monitoring of the silver collection stores:

This kind of assessment can take up to a year and will be my main, ongoing project. Please check my blogs for updates on my progress.

Rosemarie Wachsmuth,
ICON HLF Intern in Preventative Conservation

Just a normal day at the Museum Collections Centre


Preparing for Halloween Night October 28th 6pm – 9pm at the Museum Collections Centre in Birmingham.