Museum Metamorphosis Exhibition


Museum Metamorphosis Exhibition

26 September 201310 February 2014

In July 2013, five Leicester-based artists, Peter Clayton, Michelle Morgan, Elisa Panerai, Ruth Singer and Lucy Stevens, were selected to create a collaborative art exhibition. They were commissioned to reimagine an object of their choice from the permanent collection at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester, exploring the idea of change or ‘metamorphosis’.

The artists spent the summer visiting the museum to study and sketch their selected object, in order to create their new interpretations. A variety of techniques and media have been used including print, textiles, Perspex, collage, 3D modelling and sonogram software. Through this process of reimagining, the artists create a visual dialogue, provoking viewers to rethink the way they see the objects. The exhibition was curated by PhD students, Laura Crossley, Romina Delia, Laura Díaz Ramos and Haitham Eid, with the support of staff and students in the School of Museum Studies.


Peter Clayton

L is for Lyon, 2013

Peter Clayton.jpgSince graduating, Peter Clayton has exhibited widely throughout the country and has work in private and public collections worldwide. He has also collaborated with museums, interior designers and publishers. Peter’s clients have included P&O Cruise Liners, Faber and Faber and Rugby Art Gallery & Museum. He teaches part-time at the University of Leicester’s Embrace Arts Centre, the Fosse Arts Centre and the Leicester Print Workshop.

The work L is for Lyon was inspired by the stuffed lion on display at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester and it is part of Peter’s project Fantastic Animal Alphabet Series, inspired by mythology and fairy tales. The Erl-king and Acteon, other prints from Fantastic Animal Alphabet Series, are also presented here. Another source of inspiration came from the story The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, included in Angela Carter's book The Bloody Chamber. In this artwork, Peter’s aim is to illustrate the story of Mr. Lyon, which is based on the 'Beauty and the Beast' myth, and to capture the mid-point of the metamorphosis from lion to man under the influence of Beauty.

L is for Lyon is a two-colour silkscreen print created in the supportive and inspirational environment of Leicester Print Workshop. Images from Victorian engravings and 1930s film imagery were brought together and digitally manipulated before being photographically transferred to silk-screens and hand printed in an edition of five copies.

Michelle Morgan

Plateosaurus, 2013

Michelle Morgan.jpg

Michelle Morgan is an illustrator and designer based in Leicester. Winner of BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2012, as voted for by Discover Wildlife magazine, a love for animals and nature is an undeniable influence in her work. Over the past year Michelle has exhibited pieces in galleries across the UK including Twycross Zoo and Marwell Wildlife in Hampshire. Later this year she will release her first children’s book publication.

Michelle’s interpretation of the Plateosaurus exhibited at the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester, analyses the dinosaur’s skeleton, dissecting the individual bones to look at them in a new way. She uses layers of Perspex sheets (symbolising the glass boxes the exhibits are kept in) to form a base for the piece. Held in between each sheet are cut out paper bones. Michelle built up the skeleton from back to front from 2D materials until it became a 3D work. Recently in her work, Michelle has been using collaged papers recycled from magazines. In this work, she experiments with colours and texture during the process to explore this further.

Elisa Panerai

Display Cabinet (Pigeon Quarters), 2013

Elisa Panerai.jpg

Elisa makes colourful collages using her trusty Fiskars scissors. She studied Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College, University of London, graduating in 2004. Elisa has regularly exhibited her work in London and Leicestershire. Since 2010 she has exhibited at the Art House event as well as having her work regularly selected for the Open Exhibition at the City Gallery. She won both the Unit 1 Great Central Gallery Prize (2009) and more recently the Embrace Arts Prize (2013).

Elisa has chosen an 18th century Japanese display cabinet from the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery collection. The cabinet is both a functional and a decorative object, shaped like a house where every surface is decorated with intricate floral patterns as well as landscape imagery of mountains and trees. Elisa has built a similar structure used to display a number of origami pigeons. The structure takes the form of a pigeon coop, which is at the same time an apartment block. The Japanese cabinet, with its implied order and cleanliness, becomes a coop for pigeons, birds that we associate with dirt and disease.

Elisa has expressed the concept of metamorphosis in the use of materials, working with entirely recyclable objects. She has used small cardboard boxes, such as toothpaste containers, to build the structure, and magazines and newspapers to make collages to decorate the surface with city landscapes, buildings and windows. The solid wooden structure and the lacquered surface of the cabinet are transformed and built out of disposable materials, alluding to the ´ramshackle´ structure of bird dwellings. The tranquil Japanese landscape is replaced with a hectic urban landscape, with the intention of suggesting the metamorphosis which occurs with the passing of time.

Ruth Singer

Charm Gown in memory of Douglas Eaton, 1916-2012, 2013

Ruth Singer.jpg

Ruth Singer creates textile artworks inspired by museum objects, personal heritage, memories and stories. She uses natural and sustainable textiles combined with hand-stitching as well as fabric manipulation techniques such as pleating, smocking, appliqué and quilting to create dense surface textures. Ruth mainly works on projects, often in collaboration with communities, museums and other artists. She has also written three books on sewing and currently runs Ruth Singer Studio, a creative sewing school in Leicester.

For this exhibition, Ruth has created a personal charm gown inspired by the Nigerian ‘Mantle of Invulnerability’ at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester. Fascinated by how textiles can be invested with huge significance and power, Ruth has embellished the piece with text, textiles and objects from her own family, creating a feeling of comfort and safety. Many of the materials used came from her grandparents’ house and outbuildings. The main sheet had been used as a painting dustsheet and has gathered stains and marks from years of use. The pegs used to hang the piece are also from the same source, the laundry that was run on site from the 1930s. The outlines of tools are taken directly from the tool shed and the blue floral motif is an embroidery transfer of her grandmother’s. Many of the textile details added to the piece are printed from scans of documents and letters from the family including her grandfather's war records. These are made into small amulets inspired by the original museum object. The flower prints on the left side are created using the Japanese technique of Hapazome or flower-pounding, using flowers transplanted from her grandfather’s garden after his death.

Lucy Stevens

The Magic Voice, 2013

Lucy Stevens.jpg 

Lucy’s practice investigates the relationship between humanity and nature, using environmental soundscapes and visual art. Her current practice has two strands: the first is sound, using field recordings to produce aural portraits of wildlife, to share as headphone recordings and installations. The second strand is observing wildlife behaviour and collecting data, to produce digital and hand-drawn visuals to share the fascinating habits of wildlife.

The taxidermy lyrebird, exhibited at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester, was transformed through a series of drawings, scanned objects and watercolours to create a layered digital print. The final image ties the notion of metamorphosis with mimicry, using symmetry and mirroring, transforming the appearance of the bird and its environment using patterns created from its own courtship songs. The Magic Voice focuses particularly on the recent discovery by Dr Anastasia Dalziell (Australian National University) on lyrebirds in the Dandenong Ranges and their 4-part coordinated song-dance courtship routine. The lyrebird’s song range is complex. It is also one of the few birds that can dance whilst it sings, hence the different positioning of the bird’s feathers. This work concentrates on the four dance moves and four calls during courtship, including sounds familiar to an 80s video game, a ruler being twanged and a mixture of repetitive loud sharp short calls and buzzing sounds. Through interpreting birdsong with drawings and sonogram software, Lucy was able to visualise the pitch and volume of the sounds. The environment around the birds reflects the lyrebird’s ability to mimic industrial and artificial sounds by replacing a forest with a cityscape of Leicester, filling the sky with the sound of the lyrebird’s voice.






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School of Museum Studies
University of Leicester
Museum Studies Building
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