My final week as Artist in Residence at the Museum is now over, the past month has gone so quickly, packed full of new sights, events and meeting new people. During my residency I have been researching pieces within the collections, this research will now be used to create a new piece for BMAG to go on display in January. Continuing with my own practice, interested in the act of looking, the residency has encouraged me to focus on the history behind ‘the gaze’ concerning Women and their image. This is something that became prominent during my research where many of the prints and drawings I looked at depicted women carrying out private acts, often within interior settings, documenting these for the viewer to enjoy. My progress and the ideas behind my new work and its development will be documented by the BMAG team in the coming weeks, please keep an eye out!
I have now moved out of my studio, a space I have made my own during my time here. Not only used as a space for my daily practice I have held workshops for the public and opened it every Wednesday afternoon for visitors to come in and see what I have been up to.
On Friday the 17th of October I held one final printing drop in session, visitors were invited to take inspiration from the woodcut prints of Sir Edward Burne Jones I found in the collections and create their own Lino printed bookmarks.
Here is my own finished bookmark:
It was great fun to help others create something that they could take home and use, everybody enjoyed the Lino method of printing and made some great finished bookmarks.
The public facing studio has provided me with a wonderful space suited to my practice, through the glass panel I was able to watch passers by enjoying their visit as well as watching them watch me work. I thought I would play with this idea of the watcher and the watched by covering the glass with semi opaque plastic with peep holes cut away.
I invited the audience to peep through these observing stations to view inside my studio and view myself, in the process photographing this action. It has encouraged me to question the act of looking within a gallery setting, where looking is actively encouraged. This is not limited to the artwork on display alone but it can also be a place to watch other visitors too! I became aware of this within an engraving called The Exhibition at the Royal Academy, 1787 engraved by Pierto Antonio Martini (from the painting by Johann Heinrich Ramberg), where the focus of the viewer is not purely on the gallery display but on the characters themselves within the exhibition.
Thank you everyone who participated, here are some images of those who decided to have a peak:
I would like to work with these images further, the blurred outlines of the viewers interests me as you have to fill in the missing information. I have experimented with these few images digitally, as seen below, but I would like to eventually turn them into prints.
Looking through the peep holes visitors could observe me inside my studio:
I keep returning to this circular shape to frame my images, over the coming weeks I will explore how I can create a sculptural structure that forms this shape on which I hope to print upon. For now, here are some previous experiments into this form:
Finally I want to thank all the staff at BMAG who have given their time generously to view works, arrange events and help me to develop my ideas for this residency to produce a new commission for the Museum. I can’t wait to get started and look forward to its completion.
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence
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
I have spent the last month researching the collections during my residency here. I have now finished at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) and moved back into my studio. I’ll be channelling these ideas into a new commission for BMAG for January. The residency has encouraged a new direction for my work, where my public facing studio encouraged conversations and interactions with staff and the public. These daily conversations have fed into my artistic process and encouraged me to rethink my relationship with ‘the gallery’, and the editing process that I go through while making work. It has also given me an insight into the direct art historical context of the materials I use, and how drawing and works on paper have been used.
The studio itself has been a significant influence on how I’ve been working.
The view looks out onto Victoria Square and Town Hall.
The space has been used for both workshops with the public and my daily studio practice.
These sketches are the beginning of the exploration into my new work, which evoke familiar motifs of journeys, place, and landscape.
During my time here, I have looked at a huge range of landscapes and topographical views in the collection. I also spent some time with photographer David Rowan, who showed me the work he had done documenting the view from the roof of the building, and also how the roof and dome at BMAG have gradually been restored. This has pushed me to think more about the importance of viewpoints within a changing city.
I keep coming back to this painting within the collection, titled ‘Birmingham from the Dome of St. Philips Church’, painted by Samuel Lines in 1821 (the church is now a cathedral).
It was made from the dome, which is inaccessible to the public now. The dome was then the highest point in the town, and still seems very high – it is said to be the same level as the cross on St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is a fascinating perspective on the city and I was captivated by the idea of recreating this view today.
This week I met with Catherine Ogle (Dean of Birmingham) and Rob Hands (Head Verger at St Philip’s). Rob and I climbed the precarious tower to the top of the dome, then compared the views. Thanks to a compass and a selection of historical maps, I worked out the angle from which Samuel Lines created his painting. The original painting was made pointing southwest – I overlaid old and new maps to give a rough idea of the angle.
I will be spending the coming weeks exploring the idea of this view, or ‘prospect’, and its historical and cultural significance. The BMAG team will be documenting my new commission and its development. For now, here is a view of the clock from inside the tower and the gravestone of Samuel Lines himself, in the graveyard of the Cathedral.
I’d also like to add a huge thank you to all the staff at BMAG who have been generous with their time and resources to help me develop this residency and commission.
Sarah Taylor Silverwood,
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
The formality and style of some of these prints of Birmingham architecture is something I’d like to replicate in my drawing:
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.
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:
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.
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:
Sarah Taylor Silverwood,
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence
It has been a really busy second week and I’ve been meeting many members of the public and staff here. On Wednesday afternoons I have an open studio, and last week lots of people came in to see the work I’m making and chat about what they have been doing in the gallery. It has been fascinating to be right in the midst of the ebb and flow of the gallery.
I had a meeting with Curator Victoria Osborne this week, and she showed me a selection of works from BMAG’s incredible stores.
I have tried to be quite focussed with my research as it is easy to get carried away with the vast collection! I want to spend some time looking at landscapes, works on paper, drawing, technique, Birmingham-related landscapes and objects connected with Birmingham’s industrial heritage. The works that Victoria showed me were mainly drawings or prints on paper. There is nothing quite like seeing the works unframed. It was particularly interesting to investigate the sorts of paper used and see inscriptions on the back of drawings.
I saw a variety of works by Samuel Lines (1778-1863), a significant artist who focussed many of his works on the Birmingham Landscape. Many of his drawings depict the (very different!) 19th century landscape of Birmingham. This drawing is called View from No 3 Temple Row West (presumable from his home which was on Temple Row).
This detailed tree drawing was made by Henry Harris Lines in 1826 (son of Samuel Lines).
I love this piece made by Birmingham artist Alice Barnwell. She has used two different shades of ink to distinguish the foreground and background.
This print depicts the Hall of Memory (another Alice Barnwell). Victoria explained how they acquired two of this particular print because one of them had a written inscription but was not as good quality as this one.
Finally, one of my favourite things I have seen here is a book of drawings that were done by Jocelyn Gaskin as a child. These beautiful, lively drawings were all made when she was about 9 years old, around 100 years ago. As a big comic book fan myself, it was great to see some comic-like drawings in the collection!
Finally here are a few books I’ve been looking at ready for a visit to the Museum Collections Centre with history Curator Jo-Ann Curtis next week. I’ll be looking at works by Alan Edward Everett, Frank Lockwood, Arthur Lockwood and Samuel Lines.
Come and take a closer look at my work every Wednesday (until 16th Oct) at my open studio sessions in the Activity Zone between 1pm and 4pm. I will also be running a free family drawing workshop on Saturday 12th October from 1pm – 3pm. Visit the BMAG website for more information: http://www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=2918
Sarah Taylor Silverwood,
Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence
It is coming to the end of my first week as Artist in Residence at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I’ve had a busy week moving into the studio and meeting many members of staff and public. I’ve also had a chance to immerse myself in the amazing art and museum collection. I’m here for a month and during that time I will be making a new piece of work inspired by the collections. I’m really enjoying working in the new studio space:
My work is mainly drawing based, and previously I’ve made drawings that are often reminiscent of comic books, maps or landscapes. You can find out more about my work here: www.sarahsilverwood.com.
You might have passed by and seen me working in the studio, which is in the Activity Zone. With a large glass wall I feel like a museum object myself! I like to see how the public are interacting with the art work in the galleries, so have been sketching as they walk by.
I often use historical ideas and themes in my work, especially in connection with the City of Birmingham, so a residency at BMAG is a great chance to make new work. I have got a lot of enthusiasm for working with narrative, and enjoy weaving some sort of storytelling aspect into my work. I spent some time in the Birmingham history galleries, discovering the importance of Birmingham’s industrial past. Helen from the Front of House team gave me a quick history of the gallery itself, explaining how it has changed over the past century. The studio wall is filling up with images like these:
I was particularly struck by a door from the old Debtor’s Prison in Birmingham, which I made a quick sketch of. It has a sign that reads, ‘Note the bars thro which charitable passers-by dropped coins to the inmates’.
Next week I’ll be spending some time at the Museum Collections Centre with History Curator Jo-Ann Curtis. It is an amazing place where many of the collections are stored. I’ll also be exploring some of the Fine Art collection with curator Victoria Osborne.
My studio is open to the public every Wednesday 1-4pm. I’ll also be posting on the blog every week. I will be running a free family drawing workshop on Saturday 12th October 1-3pm. We will be painting the walls and windows and decorating the studio with an amazing cityscape! Check the BMAG website for more information: http://www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=2918