Thursday, 25 March 2021

The twitch of a lemming’s nose

The twitch of a lemming’s nose

the Travelling Stories project
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

There is a large vase, round as a fruit, rich as a treasure with an eagle lifting her wings across its flanks, a beak open to snap at reckless folk trying to pick from whatever delights are held in that round belly. Made by William de Morgan, the vase has gone from the Derbyshire School Loans Service to the de Morgan Collection in Barnsley. For the Travelling Stories project, writer and artist Rob Young has been investigating the vase at a distance….

“I came to the project as an audience member, without any preconception. I asked the questions an eight-year-old boy would ask. Why is this interesting? What bits are boring? What bits are good? Let’s hold it up to the light and see what shimmers. To my unexpected delight, I was completely and utterly charmed” Rob Young

Rob’s work always spirals outwards in unexpected directions. He has been making activity films, printing T-shirts, creating stories, making shadow puppets. For now, here is a flicker of an eagle shadow puppet. There is more, much more, to come but we are working closely with the de Morgan collection so that everything can be released as exciting activities to do when everything is ready. Keep an eye open for “how to make a shadow puppet” and “Rob Young writing workshop”

Some of us are looking further north…..

The artists working with material remaining in Buxton have been looking at carvings from the people’s of the Arctic. There are stone carvings and kayak models of delicate skin stretched over wooden rams. There are exquisite carved spoons from the Sami of Scandinavia and an antler etched with reindeer and cut short. A drumstick perhaps?

Here are some snippets, leaves from Ingrid Karlsson’s work blown in to tempt us with what will come as a whole

Image 1: the icecap is melting at an alarming and accelerating speed

Image 2: Sámi seasons: in the autumn, frost night arrive and the reindeer llok for ground lichen to eat. Bulls are rounded up for slaughter. 

Image 3: in reindeer herding, mobility is a key feature; old Arctic peoples represent cultures of large spaces where well-being equals not standing still, moving along the seasonal ebbs and flows of life

And I am sidetracking myself into shadows and the shapes of the sea people, shoals of fish moving under the ice, the stalk and strike of a polar bear, the owl's wing-tips that brush the snow like clouds. I have been resisting walruses and lemmings but I know the resistance is crumbling....

Finished work from the project as a whole is coming in. A provocation has arrived from Australia; a thought, a dream and flowers from Cumbria. There is more work on its way and in April Buxton Museum will start exhibiting the finished pieces

We called this project “Travelling Stories” as this sense of objects that have been carrying stories around the world for years really appealed. The objects in the Schools Library Service brought the stories of their homelands to the people of Derbyshire, inviting visitors to investigate – or speculate – on the stories behind the artefacts. Now, those objects and their stories are moving on again. Some pieces are following long wandering trails back to where they came from. Others are moving on to new homes, taking their stories with them and hopefully sharing those stories in different ways with new people.

1 comment:

  1. looks like some very interesting work coming in, Gordon. Excited to be part of it!