Saturday, 27 December 2014

Xmas Things of the least

Inspired by something Alex said about how she is keeping a daily diary of things of the least, I collected a few bits and pieces from Xmas day, things that often people discard. The party popper string, some bad cracker jokes and the streamers from a failed party popper.
The failed Party Popper

Scorch marks from a loud explosion

Why do these jokes still make me laugh?

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Visual Resources Centre at MMU

I had a spare 10 minutes on Wednesday and popped in the slide library for  a rummage.
Found some amazing things..a picture of the Popes Train in the 1800s was a particular favourite.
but these are my two slides of the week.

With A big thank you to John Davis from the VRC at MMU for the photographs

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014


I am posting these with thanks to Dr James Lattin, Curator of the Museum of Imaginative Knowledge. He sent details of these interesting projects which have resonance with ours. I had never heard of either of them and was really excited to have a little explore. Which is one reason why blogs, twitter and email are so useful - as tools for connecting, discovering - and rummaging.

First is the Mmuseumm in New York. This is how it is described.
Mmuseumm is a modern natural history museum - devoted to the curation and exhibition of contemporary artifacts that illustrate the complexities of the modern world.
"As is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm." The only access to a greater truth is through the individual perspective of a collective gaze. By examining the small things, the vernacular, we are able to look at the big one, life itself, or at least start to see its edges.
And the second is Alice Bradshaw's Museum of Contemporary Rubbish in Blackpool. It makes me wonder what we class as rubbish and when we might do so.

It seems that there's a lot of rummaging out there for 'things of the least'. I am sure we will discover all sorts of others, but before I go, here's a picture of a favourite rummaging place...

Pitt Rivers Museum


I've recently written a chapter for a forthcoming book edited by Helen Chatterjee and Leonie Hannan at UCL about using objects in higher education. My piece is all about the idea of 'rummaging' as something that needs to be taken a bit more seriously, but also a bit more playfully in museums, as a way in which people can engage creatively with things without needing to 'know' anything.

Rummaging is a word that we used a lot when exploring the Mary Greg collection at Manchester Art Gallery (you can look at the project blog Mary Mary Quite Contrary to find out more, and we must acknowledge our colleagues Liz Mitchell and Sharon Blakey too as the project was, and continues to be, a real team effort and labour of love). It is a word I use a great deal now in my research and practice. I love a good rummage. Perhaps we all do. There's often something serendipitous about what you might (or might not) find, and it almost always leads to even more rummaging or discovery. In fact I have just been rummaging through my digital photo library to find some pictures of Hazel rummaging... A meta-rummage.

Hazel finding some spillikins (I think)
Sometimes we have to wear gloves, and sometimes we don't. These blue ones are horrible. They soon get sweaty and smell of rubber and are a bit restrictive. I have thought quite a lot about this too and have interviewed different museum staff and artists about rummaging about in the stores, and inevitably the subject of wearing gloves has cropped up. It's always a bit controversial and people are quite passionate in their love or hate of gloves. I wonder what others might think?

Mary Greg's nature diary in the Sheffield Archives

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Archives of all manners and types. (MMU Visual Resources Centre)

We have a wonderful archive at MMU called "The Visual Resources Centre" , better known to us old hands as The Slide Library....once upon a time it was the place to go to sort out the visuals for your it is a place of wonder and a place you can rummage, as each sheet of 24 slides can be put on the light box..and 1000s of images to look through..many of  them objects. Each sheet is like opening a draw...surprising and never boring.
I chose the slides below for an exhibition run by M.A students, recently shown on the 5th floor of Chatham. These slides were part of an exhibition of design in plastic.

Thank you to John Davis of the MMU Visual Resources Centre for the photograph.

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Friday, 5 December 2014

Table top museum

I also feel this needs to go on here now...Michael and I went to this pop up half day event at the art workers Guild Hall in London on October 12th 2014, as is featured two of our old friends, Mark Pawson and Peter Quinell. It had a wonderful variety of collections and ideas on mini Museums.
I can't put them all on here..but this was my personal favourite by George Hardie.

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Michael's Museums

After the last post I have to put a picture of these on here...mine lives on the landing, the other is made for an exhibition in Northwich.
Made by Michael Leigh, inspired by Peter Blake.
Humble objects placed together with thought and care.

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Making things up...

I am just coming back to our exhibition proposal now I am armed with a list of some of Hazel's amazing inventions. I am particularly looking forward to seeing what the Special Extended Ear Nibbler can do.

I've been thinking a lot about the role of artists and makers in making things, but also in making things up. There's a reluctance by museums and their curators to make things up, but I think we could often do well to imagine more and know less (or know more, depending on how you look at it).

Speaking of which, I have come across an exciting project. Dr James Lattin's Museum of Imaginative Knowledge. It does exactly that and I like it. I was delighted to receive a surprise parcel from the museum in the post the other day.

Dr James Lattin's Museum of Imaginative Knowledge

The only museum that fits into a postage box?