‘Wonderment’ – that is the USP of a great gallery or museum space – it can transform people’s lives. This project has led to me reimagining and embedding approaches to how we engage with collections in museums/art galleries
I have a solo exhibition for preSENSE with the Young Gallery, Market Square, Salisbury, Saturday 9th May 2015 (opening 2 – 4pm) until June 13th called WONDERMENT – walklines. I am a hunter/gatherer of people, stories, place, memories and objects. I call these my ‘finders/keepers’.
My residency for preSENSE is called Glimpse. I have been working with the John Creasey Museum, which is part of The Young Gallery Collection. Creasey was a crime writer, art collector and traveller with wide interests…hugely ahead of his time, championing a 3 party political representation for which he put aside his writing and canvassing tirelessly to seed community support. The Guardian newspaper shared his 200 plus images held at The British Library…and I began to know the man.
My adventure began at the September 2013 Discovery Day, where artists were invited to come and see some of the Young Gallery Collection…to unlock a creative link and develop a proposal for the preSENSE residency.
I chose to use John Creasey’s walking stick collection. I found a wonderful picture of John Creasey skipping in the hallway of what is now New Hall Hospital, near Salisbury and it illustrates his great sense of fun! I had an overriding desire to work with objects that could be handled, to walk, connect, seed projects in the community. These ‘wonder’ moments (which I spotted at on my interview day) are archived, presented in a library index cabinet and included in my exhibition. It houses captured sounds from workshops and my ‘happy accident’ meetings – farmers, landowners, ordinary village people, a local stick maker, hospital staff, The Friday Café at Lover and local school children – all responses have been archived, offering reflections on the found, the small, and their sense of wonder.
Connections and serendipitous moments on this residency have been endless. The project has embedded and forged partnerships and networks – all harnessing social media/digital platforms for my research/practice in the future. I met a man whose mother worked as Alice Liddell’s maid and he shared letters of employment, references and a dress she gave to his mother. ‘She’ is the Alice of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. My website comments about the importance of curiosity in life and its relationship to our health/wellbeing and how we should all try and ‘capture a childlike sense of wonder’ and be like Alice…that is what makes this discourse and methodology so exciting and inspirational for myself and others who are part of this creative journey.
In the last year, I have been convinced of the power and benefits of exploring and harnessing Twitter/Facebook and other digital platforms to connect with audiences, artists and organisations to capture and embed serendipitous moments and haptic discovery.
Haptic exploration (the ability to touch objects) was first sparked from my first visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford at 9 years, and was awoken over thirty years later when managing a creativity department for young people with ASD/Aspergers/dyslexia. It was through their ways of knowing and sharing their experience of how they took a curve ball approach to finding a way into education/social communication, adapting…seeing these ‘other creative in-roads’ in their discussions, moments and shared experiences that opened up paths that were dormant and needed reawakening…Creasey’s sticks were the conduit for this.
During this residency, I was introduced to the work of Jon Adams geologist and artist. His work is included in the Young Gallery collection. The moment I first glimpsed the work was a moment of huge revelation. Jon mapped the walking landscape of mining areas in Cornwall through 3D specific haptic mapping…one which invited the viewer to touch the work – inspirational work. Jon’s perceptive creative inquiry is born out of his unique view of the world. He is dyslexic, has asperser’s and is synesthetic. He is a tour de force and has worked on cutting edge arts residencies, with high calibre organisations, in partnership with Simon Baron Cohen, The Wellcome Trust and more recently, a digital platform called Democracy Street with Parliament.
I have invited Jon to talk about his ways of seeing and connecting and how we can all use our individual strengths to develop cognitive knowing and promote diversity and democratise our sense of self, of what it is to be an outsider in today’s fast changing global world and how the ability to make connections, adapt, redefine oneself and build resilience is hugely empowering for us as all. Jon Adams Artist Talk is on 16 May 2015, 2 to 4pm at The Young Gallery, Salisbury
I discovered an image of a billiard table from Pitt Rivers’ home on the Rushmore Estate. It is covered with found objects; this is a scientific table. I have used this image as inspiration and redefined my ‘finders/keepers’ by placing them on a found space in Salisbury…one in the urban landscape. Nick Carter and I connected on Twitter, Nick is a professional photographer who shoots beautiful images for interior magazines and understands the beauty in placing objects. He has kindly helped me capture this important image for my exhibition.
I wanted the image to define ‘Wonderment’ and show how my walklines lead to a world of creative connections both in the digital and haptic worlds, where discovery will merge and take a new foothold…
Linn O’Carroll, artist