Unique animal bone artwork to be unveiled by Leicester artist at the University of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Apr 28, 2016 12:08 PM |
‘The Reliquary Project’ inspired by modern animal bone archive will be revealed on Friday 6 May by Jo Dacombe at the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 April 2016

Photo/media opportunity: Meet the artist between 4.30pm – 5.30pm on Friday 6 May at Attenborough Arts Centre

Images of artworks available to download at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/isv4fmnctvs8ppl/AABy9JLaJjcbCE0ppFK1KYjOa?dl=0

A distinctive bone-themed exhibition named ‘The Reliquary Project’, conceptualised and created by Leicester artist Jo Dacombe, will be unveiled at a free preview evening at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre.

The preview will run from 5.30pm to 8pm on Friday 6 May.

The new project, which began in September 2014, will be one of four displays revealed on the night. All exhibitions hosted by the Attenborough Arts Centre are free to attend.

Jo Dacombe collaborated with the University of Leicester’s Bone Laboratory in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History during her residency to explore the thinking behind the theories archaeologists used to describe past animal and human relationships based on bone fragments retrieved during expeditions.

By actively participating in archaeological outings, working in the Bone Lab alongside the archaeologists and learning from them Jo became increasingly fascinated with themes inspired by animal bones and skeletons. These experiences helped to create this new body of work by exploring small and large-scale sculptures, drawings, photographs, scans, X-rays and mechanical devices.

Jo said: “What was unique about this project for me was that I got to work closely with archaeologists, particularly Dr Richard Thomas, to find out about how they work, their interests and their knowledge. I became fascinated by how archaeologists use different technologies to create images that can give them useful information, such as the use of laser imaging and geophysics. This resulted in Dr Thomas and I collaborating to create a series of images using X-rays. This is something I would never have come up with on my own and I think the project shows the benefit of an artist working with people in other disciplines to inspire new work.”

Dr Richard Thomas, Acting Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, added: “Working alongside Jo has made us look at excavated animal bones and the stories that we generate from them in new ways. At the same time it has provided us with a unique insight into the artistic process and has reaffirmed my belief that bones are beautiful!"

This vision has taken inspiration from a medieval fascination for displaying the bones of saints in boxes which would be seen as relics.

Jo explains: “I became interested in how archaeologists take thrown away items, like animal bones, that have been discarded as rubbish by people in the past but, by analysing them and studying them, these items become valuable things in our present and in the future, they become relics and are considered unique and precious.”

When asked what message she hopes visitors take away from her exhibition, Jo replied: “The amazing world of bones and the many ways we can think about them. I have learnt so much from the archaeologists at the University of Leicester about how they study bones and what they can determine from them, as well as the beauty of bones themselves as organic, sculptural objects. I hope that my exhibition will inspire people to look at bones as the fascinating things that they are.”

‘The Reliquary Project’ was supported by Dr Richard Thomas, Acting Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, Clare Hudson, Head of Research and Enterprise Partnerships (Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities), Debbie Miles-Williams, Outreach Officer at the University of Leicester, and Paul Conneally, Raising Achievement Team, Leicester City Council. The project was funded using public contributions by Arts Council England.

Paul Conneally from Leicester City Council’s Raising Achievement Team said: “We’ve been working with the University of Leicester to build links between them and our schools, so that pupils can find out more about King Richard III, pre-history and the Bone Laboratory as part of the Reliquary Project.

“Pupils at city schools have attended a workshop with artist Jo Dacombe, introducing them to the work of the Bone Laboratory. The work also offers opportunities for discussions around death and bereavement, which can help build emotional resilience and wellbeing in young people.

“Such work inspires pupils and teachers alike, and the feedback we’ve had from the project has been very positive.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “Our funding supports artists to create work that will entertain, intrigue and fascinate audiences. Jo's ‘Reliquary Project’ is a great example of how art, history and science can collide to help us look at the world around us in new ways. We're delighted to have supported her research with the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History and hope the exhibition will be enjoyed by people in Leicester and beyond.”

Jo’s gallery space, which will be on show until Sunday 3 July, will include archaeological bones which people can observe, touch and create their own temporary sculptures from. 

In addition, Jo will be running a free family weekend workshop (date to be confirmed). Tickets for the workshop can be booked on the Attenborough Arts Centre website or by contacting the centre’s box office.


Notes to Editors:

For further details contact Jo Dacombe on joanna.dacombe@ntlworld.com

For information on the exhibition, contact Lucy Stevens at Attenborough Arts on ls229@le.ac.uk


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