You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘museums’ tag.

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Chinese Turkestan, Kashgar – Embroidered wild silk
(2) North American, 19th century (?) – Apron of coarse flannel, ornamented with Marginella labrosa shells (a West Indian species)

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford was founded in 1884 when Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (phew!), an influential figure in the development of archaeology and anthropology, gave his collection of almost 20,000 objects (gathered from all over the world and representing many cultures both past and present) to the University of Oxford. Since the museum’s inception the collection has continued to grow and now consists of over half a million objects. On entering the museum – a highly atmospheric, dimly lit maze of 19th century wood and glass display cabinets overflowing with objects – you’d be forgiven for thinking all half a million plus are currently on display (and apparently a very large percentage of the collection is on view. From the museum’s website: “In some instances the ‘displays’ are primarily visible storage, due to the museum being first and foremost a teaching and research institution”).

Objects are arranged according to how they were made or the purpose they served, rather than by cultural origin or age. This method of display, fairly unique amongst anthropological and archaeological museums, focuses the viewers’ attention on the skill & creativity with which people across the globe have tackled, and found solutions to, the common problems of daily life. In many ways this method of display serves to highlight our similarities rather than our differences, and makes for a very absorbing visit.

This is a small (and apparently entirely random!) selection of some of the pieces that caught my eye. I struggled to get any great shots in the dim light (set low to conserve the objects) and minimising reflections off the glass cases proved tricky, but I hope they’ll convey at least some sense of this fascinating collection… well worth a visit!

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Sarawak, Borneo – Frame on which warp threads are strained and prepared for dyeing using the ikat technique. Groups of threads are bound at numerous points, which together form the required pattern. The bindings are made with fibre of lembah (curculigo). When dipped in dye, the bound parts remain undyed while the rest of the warp takes up the dye. After the bindings have been removed the warp will be put on a loom for weaving to produce the ikat cloth (and further dyeing stages may be required). The ikat technique is used widely, and in some regions the weft may also be dyed in a similar fashion (both warp and weft are dyed to produce double ikat)
(2) Salish, Haro Archipelago, Canada – Woven blanket (also used for wearing), probably made of dyed goat and dog’s hair

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Chilkat, S.E. Alaska – Dance apron of deer skin, fringed & hung with puffins’ beaks & deer-hoofs; with textile designs representing the Bear
(2) the original, hand-written object labels are things of beauty in themselves…

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) West Africa – Ritual masquerade mask representing a god or ancestor
(2) Peshawar, W.Pakistan – Child’s shirt, cotton, silk, multicoloured embroidery, small pieces of inset mirror-glass

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1 & 2) Aleut/Unangan, Aleutian Islands, Alaska – Man’s parka made of seal intestine. The cuffs and hem feature a complex border of fourteen thin bands of parchment-like sealskin dyed red and black. These are overwoven with fine caribou-hair embroidery in geometric patterns. There are more than 20,000 embroidery stitches in the border alone.

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) one of the many ‘Magic, Ritual, Religion & Belief’ display cabinets
(2) Sussex, England – Silvered & stoppered bottle said to contain a witch, obtained about 1915 from an old lady living in a village near Hove, Sussex. She remarked “and they do say there be a witch in it, and if you let un out there’ll be a peck o’ trouble!”

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Trophy human skulls (?)
(2) Milan(?), Italy – Portions of three packs of playing or tarot cards (?)

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) England & France – 17th Century keys
(2) Aurès Mountains, Algeria, Africa – Surgical instruments

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1) Oceania (?) – Chest or forehead ornaments (kapkap), possibly 19th or early 20th century, turtle and tridacna shell (?)
(2) Japan – Noh theatre masks (the one in the middle is described as “representing a spirit in the form of a young boy”)

@ the pitt rivers museum, oxford

(1, back) Zulu, South Africa – cattle skin shield (isimbi)
(1, front) Swazi, Swaziland – miniature shield and spear (assegai),
carried by girls when dancing
(2) Inuit, Sisimiut, Western Greenland – Girl’s traditional outfit (detail), made by Haldora Davidsen 1991-92

" "

Information about each piece has been derived from the captions that accompany them in the museum (or from my digging through the Museum’s online collections database). Object labels were not always visible and I’ve included a (?) where I’m hazy on the details of specific objects.

Here are just a handful of the many and varied wonderful objects that caught my eye on a recent visit to the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology in Oxford. I was particularly drawn to the beautiful, fragile remnants of cloth in the museum’s textile displays and (as you no doubt might’ve already guessed if you’ve visited here before) am always a sucker for anything incorporating creature-inspired representations.

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

of the water
(top) Makara, Mathura region (northern India), AD 350-450, terracotta plaque (The makara is an auspicious aquatic monster, symbolising water and fertility)
(bottom) Pottery rhyta (vessel for drinking or pouring offerings) in the form of a fish, Sasanian, AD 225-650, Iran

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

vessels
(top) Rounded clear glass flask, eastern Mediterranean?, AD 200-300 (?)
(middle) Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) ceramic containers
(bottom) A pewter dinner service from Appleford, c. AD 300-400 (This large service is made of pewter, an alloy of tin and lead [both metals mined by the Romans in south-west Britain]. Inscriptions on two of the plates and a written record suggest that this service was owned by people of Celtic origin who used Latin and enjoyed a Roman lifestyle. The tableware was hidden in a well when the Thames Valley became unstable in the last years of Roman occupation, about AD 400. Some of the plates were over 100 years old at the time of burial)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

this (modern) fabric was part of a display describing Japanese textile weaving and dyeing techniques that, surprisingly in a museum, was accompanied by a sign inviting the viewer to “Please Touch”. On turning the fabric over I was delighted to find this thickly layered web of threads on its reverse side – such order from such (apparent) chaos!

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

strikingly similar colour palettes, across time and place
(top) Portrait of a woman in a dress worked with flowers (detail), Cornelius Jonson (English, 1593-1661), after 1618, oil on panel
(bottom) Fragment of a large cloth, perhaps intended as a hanging, Roman, c.AD 300-400 (Woven in undyed linen, the cloth is decorated with tapestry wool bands of brightly coloured flowers and foliage)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

enigmatic gazes
(top) The Buddha, Gandhāra (now parts of Northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan), c.AD 200
(bottom) Statue of a bearded man, Wadi Bayhan, Yemen (ancient Kingdom of Qataban), calcite-alabaster, possibly 300 BC – AD 200
(Funerary statue. The large holes in the eyes contain traces of bitumen that once held shell inlays in place)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

spiritual discipline
(top) Head of an ascetic, Gandhāra, AD 300-400, unfired clay
(bottom) Hand and forearm of the Buddha (detail), Mathura, AD 100-200, sandstone

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

(gorgeous!) Ikat cloth, Central Asia (present-day Uzbekistan), 1800s – 1900s, silk (Derived from the Malay word mengikat [“to tie”], the term ikat defines a textile-patterning technique in which parts of the warp and/or weft are knotted to protect them from dye penetration. The careful planning of the dyeing process is the key to the realisation of the vibrant decorative patterns that characterise ikats)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

lacework
(top) The lacemaker (detail), Bernhard Keilhau (1624-1687), oil on canvas
(bottom) Sampler, 1660, England, silk on linen (whitework including cut work and pulled work, with needlepoint and needle-woven fillings, signed by the maker “Mary Parker 1660”)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

blooming
(top) Gentle Spring (detail), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), oil on canvas
(bottom) Plate with carnations, roses and leaves imitating Iznik ceramics, Venice or Padua, c.1600-1650

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

more unexpected colour harmonies
(top) The Burn, November – the Cucullen Hills (detail), John William Inchbold (1830-1888), oil on canvas (The view from Sligachan, looking southwards over the Sligachan Burn towards the Cuillin Hills… in the autumn of 1855)
(bottom) Samurai helmet (ceremonial), Japan, 1560,
iron, lacquer, silk, gilt metal (?)

ashmolean museum artefacts, oxford

feathered, antlered
(top)
zoomorphic brooches, bronze inlaid with coloured enamel,
Roman Period (Britain), AD 43 – 410 (?)
(bottom) Assyrian ‘winged genie’ relief; carved from ‘Mosul marble’ (gypsum), Nimrud, Iraq, Reign of Ashurnasirpal II, 883-859 BC

" "

Information about each piece has been derived from the captions that accompany them in the museum. A ‘(?)’ indicates that I’m unsure of the details… having failed to take a proper note of them at the time of viewing!

Van Marum's large electrostatic generator 

I’m a sucker for old-school machines (like this beauty – here, here and here – made by Jezze & co), so when I saw the one above in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem recently I was mesmerised. I don’t need to know what they do or how they work to find them fascinating, especially when they’re this finely crafted!

That said, I did read the exhibit’s label (although didn’t necessarily understand it all), and can tell you that it’s an Electrostatic Generator. It was made in 1784 by John Cuthbertson (an English instrument maker who settled in Amsterdam) after a design by Dutch scientist and teacher Martinus Van Marum. Van Marum used the machine for over a decade in his various electro-chemical and electro-physical research experiments.

Apparently, with its 1.65 meter diameter discs, it is the largest plate generator ever built and could produce a spark with a record-length of 61 cm, which implies a voltage of
330 000 volts. Smokin’!

large electrostatic generator, detail

“Each disk is rubbed by four friction pads of waxed taffeta pressed to the glass by leaf springs. The central portions of the disks are coated with resinous material to absorb the vibrations when they are in motion”

large electrostatic generator, detail

“The disks are rotated by a double crank in a frame fixed to the top of a table, on which two men stood to work the machine”
(woodwork designed by architect Leendert Viervant)

large electrostatic generator, detail

“Combs ‘transport’ the charge to the conductors”

large electrostatic generator, detail

“The arrangement contains a battery of Leiden jars, the earliest type of condenser”

(text in italics is quoted from the exhibit’s label)

The Teylers Museum is filled to the brim with other intriguing and exquisitely crafted scientific instruments, and also houses (in what appear to be the original 18th Century wooden cabinets!) a huge collection of fossils, bones, crystals, rocks, paintings, drawings and prints.

They also serve a mean chocolate cake in their cafe. You should go… you’d like it :)

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation

instagram

September is upon us (!) and this is an illustration I made towards the end of last year for @essie_letterpress ‘s 2017 Artist’s Almanac. The almanac is produced in South Africa and the only stipulation for the illustration (apart from colour and sizing guidelines) was that it should fit a Southern hemisphere timeline… September is early springtime in South Africa, when the remarkable fynbos wildflowers begin to bloom and southern right whales migrate through SA’s coastal waters where they can be seen frolicking close to shore.
-
The almanac’s cover illustration (partially pictured here) is by the talented @ikronk
-
#south_africa #spring #cetacea #eubalaena_australis #baleen #whale #southern_right_whale #tail_sailing through a #garland of #fynbos #flowers #gazania #quaqua #stapelia #pelargonium_incarnatum #ornithogalum #lachenalia #spiloxene #romulea #oncosiphon #euphorbia #lapeirousia #protea #flora #pattern #artistsalmanac #calendar2017 #two_colour #illustration #letterpress Our brave, beautiful boy… happy to be back home after his first cancer treatment @mcvoordieren earlier this week.
-
If you’ve got any healing good vibes to spare (I know that’s a big ask in this perennially tough world) please send them Gira’s way ☄💙🐈
- 
#gira #cat #greeneyes #steady_gaze #inscrutable #manga_eyes #studiomate #best_fur_buddy #positive_energy #healing #lymphoma #enzyme_injections #fuckcancer #catsofinstagram A profoundly pleasing polar bear…
-
'Orso’ by Simona Vergani (1998, white Carrara marble, h 350cm) can be found in Amsterdam’s Erasmuspark, and is definitely one of the coolest ❄🐧❄ public sculptures I’ve encountered!
-
#polar_bear #ijsbeer #ursus_maritimus #vulnerable #habitat_loss #climate_change #paws #orso #sculpture #carved #white #carrara #marble #blue #summer_sky #amsterdam #erasmuspark Inquisitive, pale-eyed visitors at my studio window #jackdaw #corvidae #communing_with_crows #balancing_act #black #bird #pitch #roof_tiles #terracotta #earth_tones #summer_green Good morning moon, good morning cumulus congestus #moon #morning #clouds #cumulus #blue #sky #dutch_sky Some tigery goodness in honour of Global Tiger Day today! A day held annually on 29 July to raise awareness for tiger conservation around the world.
I made this screenprint several years ago to raise funds for wild cat conservation organisation Panthera (@pantheracats). You can support the crucial work they do at www.panthera.org, or if you fancy one of these screenprints they’re available to buy in my shop – I donate 100% of the proceeds of every sale to Panthera (www.etsy.com/shop/sakurasnow)
-
#tiger #big_cats #wild_cats #endangered #conservation #panthera #panthera_tigris #leopard #panthera_pardus #panthera_pair
-
#donation #screenprinting #silkscreen #serigraph #zeefdruk #screen_printing #printmaking #handmade #ink #pattern #stripes #spots

Archives

%d bloggers like this: