Photo 8 print %26 drawing col
31 Aug 2017

Whitworth Wallis Artist in Residence Blog 2017 – Week Two

The studio, Gallery 15, is quickly becoming a hive for creativity and discussion. Now open almost constantly to the public, it is evident that our initial research and place within the museum’s collection are beginning to gain momentum. Ideas are flowing and documentation of the space is really feeding into that. The beginning of the week involved layering up that documentation and research, building a foundation from which we will continue our investigation, the hidden collection of Birmingham’s museum and art gallery. We decided to use the studio space as a ‘live’ sketchbook, one constantly in flux with movement. 

The interior of the studio

Having a visual mind map of enquiries began to pinpoint where our individual practices were starting to come together, where they might overlap, revealing any possibly pathways that we may follow. To build on this, in line with original ideas, Suzie began to map the navigation of visitors throughout each gallery, progressing from the movement of one individual around the whole museum to the movement of many within a particular space. Initially, this revolved around an exploration of different age groups circulating amongst the exhibitions through colour coding (using the CMYK format) in readiness to expand on those findings later. 

Map of museum and plotting of visitor navigation in the museum

Following, this dictated the rest of the week as a period of data collection, accumulating findings and editing down of that gathered material. Expanding on a continual photographic survey, we looked back at and brought elements across from what we discovered at the Museum Collection Centre last week, which in turn pushed ideas generation. This also helped to narrow our research. For Suzie, this maintained her investigation into interior & exterior landscapes, the overlapping of contrasting environments and the mapping of this, including the discovery of some visually engaging roof sheeting. While for Tony, this continued his recording of the physical collections - in parcels, shipping crates, boxes of all size & shape, transport packages & process – with the traditional, modern and contemporary stacked and stashed together, noting the loss of meaning or purpose with the unseen works as an amalgamated whole hidden behind thick cardboard, wood or polystyrene. Looking at it as a type of viewfinder, this idea was encouraged upon finding a Stereoscope from the private collection of Joseph Chamberlain. 

Suzie's roof sheeting
Suzie’s roof sheeting
Tony's viewfinder
Tony’s viewfinder

It’s from this foundation where concepts began to develop, indicating paths to unfold, and this idea of hidden narratives that intrigued us both, conditions that most wouldn’t necessarily pick up on. A shelter for an associated milieu. 

In response to developmental process, Tony began filming light leaks in certain spaces, including circular ones created via overhead vents in the gallery rooms that beamed onto walls & floors. While filming he found these replicated a ‘camera obscura’ effect, where clouds and the sky above the museum projected through these tiny gaps. The capture of this fleeting chance became another nod to the viewfinder, the sense of looking through a lens, and because of this relevance to his practice shifted the dynamic for his following research. 

Light leaks in the gallery

At the end of the week, research was further fuelled by a visit to the Print & Drawing Collection, where we the opportunity to view works by Harold Cohen, Richard Hamilton, William Blake and Paul Feiler amongst many many others, each energising our rhizomatic ideas generation. 

Harold Cohen Orestes Returning (1966) William Blake The Circle of the Lustful (1824) Paul Feiler Aduton L11 (1992)
Harold Cohen Orestes Returning (1966) (left). William Blake The Circle of the Lustful (1824) (top right). Paul Feiler Aduton L11 (1992) (bottom right).

Building momentum, we begin week three in anticipation of how our ideas may develop further, plus a second visit to the Museum Collections Centre. 

Come visit us and take a closer look at the exploration we’ve undertaken, throughout next week 11am-4pm, where we will be regularly on site, keen to meet visitors & peers and happy to have a discussion or two. We look forward to seeing you!

Print & Drawing collection store room