Clarendon Sixth Form: Unveiling South Asia- Journey to Manchester

IMG_1106With it being the Easter holidays here in central Manchester we are very pleased to host the annual Photography display of images by Clarendon Sixth Form students. These Year 12 students are studying for their BTEC Extended Diploma in Photography and the project with Manchester Museum contributes to their units in ‘Ideas and Concepts in Art and Design’ and ‘Studio Photography’.

Typically these displays have been linked with the Museum’s entire collection and have been shown in black and white (see previous posts), but this year we focused the students on a particular theme: Manchester’s connection to South Asia.

With the Museum’s upcoming Courtyard Project to build a permanent South Asia gallery (along with a new space for special exhibitions) we encouraged the students to explore the Museum’s current South Asia collection with Living Cultures Curator Stephen Welsh. They then used this as inspiration to research Manchester’s own links with South Asia – be that through food, tradition, people or religion. Each student then presented one image to us to demonstrate those connections which appears in the final exhibition.

Clarendon Sixth Form students’ work can be seen in The Study on the 3rd floor of Manchester Museum until the summer.

 

Journeys across the sea and beyond: talking about current issues at Manchester Museum

You might notice on your next visit to the Museum that we have some new additions to our displays.

Our curators are thinking a lot about contemporary collecting and how we as an organisation respond to current issues such as climate change and migration.

Some of our new installations might raise some complex feelings in some of your pupils, so we wanted you to be aware in advance of some of the things you may encounter on your visit and suggest how you might want to utilise these objects to start conversations with your pupils about the issues they highlight.

Refugee Lifejacket

Life jacket from Lesvos on display at Manchester Museum

Refugee’s lifejacket from Lesvos in the entrance of Manchester Museum

For example, a refugee’s lifejacket, from the Greek island of Lesvos,  has recently gone on display in the main entrance. As Bryan Sitch, a curator here, has said:

“Our mission is to promote understanding between different cultures and to work towards a more sustainable world … We hope that this work will help us to reach out to Syrian members of the community as well as other diaspora communities.”

Visitors can watch a video about how the life jacket was collected and engage in discussion about it on Twitter via  .

We are aware that some of the stories and images linked to this object (though not displayed with it) could be upsetting for some children. However, Amnesty International have some excellent expert guidance on how to discuss these issues with older children, which you may want to introduce before a visit to the Museum.

Child migrant stories, a resource about the experiences of child migrants today and in the past, may also be useful.

We believe that the object on its own should not be upsetting unless a child has a particular related personal experience.

‘Nu Shabtis’ Journeys

nu shabtis

Examples of Zahed Taj-Eddin’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ outside Manchester Museum

From the end of March, our Graeco-Roman Egyptian Portraits and Egyptian Worlds galleries will be temporarily home instead to an installation by a Syrian-born artist,  Zahed Taj-Eddin.

Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are inspired by the common Egyptian tomb item, the shabti (sometimes known as ushabtis). Classes who take part in our Egyptian Worlds workshop will encounter real shabtis close up: they are the servants of the afterlife, placed in tombs to work for the deceased.

But Zahed’s ‘Nu Shabtis’ are new works of art made of beautiful bright blue faience. Part of the installation sees the Nu Shabtis suspended from the Egyptian Worlds gallery ceiling. The work reflects on the experience of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean towards a new life, much as the ancient Egyptians believed their shabtis would have travelled over to the afterlife.

They present an accessible way to help children think about human stories of journeys. What makes us leave a place? What makes us stay? What do we believe about our future? What do we believe about life after death? Again, the resources from Amnesty International might help you explore this with your pupils.

Seeing the works as artefacts and as works of art, you could look at similarities and differences between the ancient shabtis and Nu Shabtis. How do we know which are ancient and which are modern? Why would an artist be inspired by the ancient? What was Zahed’s purpose in drawing parallels between old and new objects and stories? Are the pupils inspired by anything in the Museum to create their own works of art?

Please note that the Nu Shabti installation will mean that our Graeco-Roman Mummies and Portraits will not be on display until July.

We would love to hear your stories of how you have used either of these installations with your classes and how they responded to them. 

If you have any questions or concerns about these displays, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

Amy McDowall – Primary Learning Coordinator

Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Arts & Humanities Coordinator

 

 

Poet-in-Residence Guest Blog: Poemlets

Over 2016 we’ve been incredibly lucky to have Helen Clare as a Poet-in-Residence as part of the Learning and Engagement Team. Helen wanted to develop some learning experiences using poetry and was fortunate enough to receive funding from the Arts Council to work with us on developing this.

Helen has been recording her progress on her personal blog – so if you want to know more about the project do take a look.

In the meantime, here’s a short post Helen has written for us on how to create your own ‘poemlets’.

“Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time at the museum, writing children’s poems and learning materials as part of an Arts Council England funded project. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at things, visiting galleries and seeing those things I first missed and then looking again and again.

That opportunity to look again and again is both inspiring and dizzying, and it’s the basis of the the little writing exercise that I’m offering to the blog.

It involved ‘zooming in’ on just one object at once and asking it three questions.

  1. What do we say about the object?
  2. What does the object say about itself?
  3. What does it really mean?

Look at it really carefully and try and think about other senses as well – does it make a noise? What would it feel like if you could touch it?  Does it smell? If it moved how would it move? You might want to think about its history – and all the lives it’s been in contact with. You might also find that it has opinions quite similar to your own and that’s ok. But equally it might surprise you with what it has to say!

And that’s it. There’s no need to fancy it up. When the wind blows right it forms a perfect little poemlet all of it’s own – although you may also wish to use it as the basis of something more substantial.

Here’s an example:

I am alien. I am earth.
We are all spacedust.

Meteorite

Iron Core of Meteorite: Campo del Cielo (Field of Heaven) Argentina, 16th Century

You can see that I’ve used the first question as the title – and that the title is bigger than the poem! You could use that first question in the poem – or you could take it off altogether and make a riddle.

Look at my huge feet, how easily they carry my weight.
It was a long way. It has been a long time.

Can you guess what this is in the Museum?* I’ll put the answer at the bottom of the blog.

It’s fun to take pictures to accompany your poemlets as well.

This is my tree. I have not moved all week.
I am more threatened than threatening. Let me sleep.

snake

Green Tree Python

There are more of these poemlets on my personal blog at http://bucklesandbutterflies.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/week-2.html

 You can tweet your poems and your photos and tag the museum @mcrmuseum, the learning team @learningMM or me @haclare.

Have fun!

Print

*Did you guess right? It’s Maharajah, the elephant skeleton from Manchester Gallery

 

Interpretation from Re-Creation: Clarendon Sixth Form Photography Display

We are proud to present our annual photography display from one of our partners – Clarendon Sixth Form – called “Interpretation from Re-Creation”.

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As usual, all of the students were given a tour of various sections of the Museum stores by our fabulous curators and had chance to explore the Museum’s galleries and find elements that sparked their interest. From there, they took their inspiration to develop a shot that would be developed in the dark room to produce a striking black and white image for display in the Museum.

Every year the students’ work never fails to impress; especially when they take one aspect of the Museum’s vast collection and communicate a statement about it in just one image. We certainly set them a challenging brief, but the students often react to it with considered thought and verve. What’s great about doing this project annually is that despite certain students identifying similar areas of the collection year after year their images are always unique and take a slightly different approach: demonstrating how imaginative and individual they all are as photographers.

Not only that, but the display also allows us to share with the public the work that we do with schools and colleges in the Learning Team. It’s a great example of a collaborative partnership that benefits the students’ skill development and provides a productive outcome for us to demonstrate how powerful the Museum’s collection can be.

You can view their pictures below, but it would be much better to see the exhibition for real. Why not come to the Museum over the next couple of weeks? The students’ work will be up in our Alhambra space (off the Link bridge on Floor 1) over the Easter holidays.

 

 

 

Creative Practitioner Opportunity: Extended

What do these portraits tell us about ancient people?

What do these portraits tell us about ancient people?

Exciting news! We are extending our closing date for Creative Practitioners to apply to work with us  and up to six partner schools on our Art of Identity project. The opportunity is  part of our third year partnership with Children and the Arts who are funding Manchester Museum as part of their Start programme.

We are looking for Artists  to deliver our project outcome of a piece of artwork that demonstrates the collective identity of each partner school using a particular artistic tenchique. Two Practitioners will work with all the pupils involved, and will be required to deliver a workshop at the Museum and another workshop in each school. Project work will be taking place in either the Spring or Summer Terms and there will be a celebration event at the Museum in 2016 to showcase the work.

Partner schools in this project are:
Droyslden Academy
Stretford Grammar School
Derby High School will be working with three of their feeder Primary schools.

If you missed it the first time around, don’t miss your chance now! Take a look at our Creative Practitioner Brief, with details on how to apply.  The new closing date for applications is Friday 16th October at 5pm.

 

Creative Practitioner Opportunity for Art of Identity Project

What do these portraits tell us about ancient people?

What do these portraits tell us about ancient people?

We’re pleased to announce that we have an exciting opportunity for two Creative Practitioners to work with the Museum and up to six partner schools on our Art of Identity project.

This fantastic opportunity is the third year of our partnership with Children and the Arts who are funding Manchester Museum as part of their Start programme.

We are searching for two Creative Practitioners to help us deliver our project outcome of a piece of artwork that demonstrates the collective identity of each partner school. Both Practitioners will work with all pupils involved, and will be required to deliver a workshop at the Museum and another workshop in each school. Project work will be taking place in either the Spring or Summer Terms and there will be a celebration event at the Museum in 2016 to showcase the work.

Partner schools in this project are:
Droyslden Academy
Stretford Grammar School
Derby High School will be working with three of their feeder Primary schools.

If you’re interested, take a look at our Creative Practitioner Brief, which will provide more details on how to apply.  Closing date for applications is Friday 9th October at 12pm.

Any queries or enquiries please contact Cat Lumb.

Opportunity for Educational Resource Developer at Manchester Museum

Ibis_MM_detailWould you like to help shape a set of digital resources to support Manchester Museum’s upcoming temporary exhibition ‘Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed‘ about the importance of animal mummies in ancient Egypt and the innovative scientific techniques being used to investigate their remains.

We are looking for individuals with educational resource development skills to lead in the creation of a resource park for families and Primary school pupils that will accompany the exhibition across the three venues it will be displayed: Manchester Museum, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and World Museum Liverpool. Applicants can submit expressions of interest for just the content development, or for content and design of the digital resource.

The full brief can be viewed here, and expressions of interest must be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday 24th June.

For further information on the research the exhibition is linked with visit the Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank blog.

Conceptio: Tameside College Photography Exhibition

Each year we are lucky enough to work with a fantastic set of photography students from Tameside College. We set them a brief – to use the Museum collection as inspiration for an image to be produced in the darkroom – and every year the cohort deliver us some brilliantly thought-provoking photography that we display in the Museum.

The work from this year has just gone on display on our First Floor Bridge and is looking particularly professional. It will remain on display until the 20th April, so if you can I would recommend popping by to take a look: there’s nothing like viewing the images up close to see the details.

However, if you can’t make it here are some pictures (click to enlarge); Enjoy!

Telford Art College Promoting Siberia: At the Edge of the World

Before Christmas we hosted a visit from some students on the Fine Art course at Telford College of Arts & Technology. They had been set a brief by us in partnership with their tutor to develop a piece of work that would help promote our current temporary exhibition Siberia: At the Edge of the World. This multi-disciplinary exhibition explores the natural history and culture of this immense territory that is one and a half times bigger than Europe. Combining stunning photographic images of its vast landscapes and diverse people with a selection of natural history specimens and cultural objects, we look beyond the stereotypical view of Siberia.

During their visit students were given the chance to explore the exhibition, seeing how it altered their existing perception of Siberia and took part in a print workshop inspired by Siberia to test out some techniques and develop their ideas. The final pieces have now been created, using either paint or print methods, and we will be sharing them via social media (Twitter and Facebook) over the course of the half term holiday (16-20th February 2015).

However, you can have a sneaky peek below at the fantastic range of artwork produced by these hardworking students. Telford College’s Head of Department will be choosing a top prize for one deserving student and our Curator, David Gelsthorpe, will be choosing his pick; for which another prize will be awarded.

Keep a look out on our Twitter feed over half term to Retweet your favourite and let the students know what you think of their great work!

Siberia: At the Edge of the World will be at the Manchester Museum until Sunday 1st March.

Babies explore the Coral exhibition at Manchester museum

Our first Baby Explorer sessions of   2014 (Tuesday 7 Jan) took place in our beautiful temporary exhibition Coral  – something rich and strange designed by Ben Kelly ( Hacienda) and featuring a diverse range of exhibits, including,  18th c sea anemones , a Rossetti painting and new works by artists Mark Dion and Karen Kasper.

The space wasn’t designed for under 5’s but our baby Explorer ‘Under the Sea’ story was perfectly themed for the space and we took advantage of the nooks and crannies around the central exhibition space to build islands of sensory play for babies and parents to explore.

We shared the gallery space with our general visitors, informing them of what was taking place  as they entered the space (16 babies and ‘strange’ looking resources on the floor!) and assuring them that the space was still open and that they were welcome to join us. We have found that on the whole our general visitors are delighted to see young children in the museum.

We have used our Nature Discovery gallery as a base to develop our Baby Explorer programme, but as we have grown in confidence as practitioners our aim is to support parents into the main spaces of the museum and to encourage them to visit at other times outside of the sessions, especially if our babies have siblings.

During the summer we held some of our sessions in our temporary exhibition, ‘Trees’ and we have developed a set of Baby Explorer sacks linked to our Ancient Worlds themed session which we use  to support parents  to explore the gallery spaces. Being out and about in different museum spaces is also a great way to raise the profile of the early years work within the museum itself.

We asked parents and carers for feedback from the session in the Coral exhibition, which was really positive and here are some of their comments;

‘Had a brilliant time at first session today. Really enjoyed being in the gallery – something for adults to see as well’.

‘The raised exhibition provided an interesting space to explore. Lots of interesting corners.’

Babies  will be exploring  the Coral exhibition again on Tuesday 21 January.

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