Thinking Space: Ways of Measuring and Seeing
10 December 2013 – 5th February 2014
Story Makers is an arts-based initiative working with children and adults with speech, language and communication needs by drawing inspiration from museum collections. Participants use art resources to research and articulate their experiences and ideas in relation to museum objects helping them overcome communication difficulties. This year’s theme drew on the Museum’s collection of measuring devices and optical instruments. Visiting groups handled and learnt about these objects by taking their own measurements and recording observations. This exhibition presents different responses to this experience, in a variety of media.
By handling measuring devices in the Museum, the Story Makers thought about the people who develop different measuring systems. Participants measured their own physical proportions, and other objects, and considered how studies of human scale and proportion have been used to structure knowledge for individual and collective domestic, social and trading purposes. This case displays work inspired by study of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing Vitruvian Man (c1490), which is based on the geometries of ideal human proportions set out by the 1st-century Roman architect Vitruvius. Leonardo believed these proportions reflected the harmonies of the universe as a whole. The clay models are based on the proportionality of human form, using gesture to convey measurements and qualities of thought, feeling and emotion.
Each Story Maker had the opportunity to create a fictional inventor – someone who might dream up new ideas for useful measuring systems. Taking notions of intimate space drawn from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, the Story Makers imagined the special places in which their inventors might think and work. The children realised their inventor’s creations through miniature clay models. The models are based on miniature Japanese sculptures called netsuke, examples of which are on display in the Museum. The inventors are shown here with the small clay models of their inventions, together creating a world of story and imagination.
Glass paintings – Ways of Seeing
Participants explored ways of seeing, experimenting with light, objects, vision and reflection. They used the camera obscura, an optical device which projects an image of its surroundings on to a screen. They traced these images and added colour, shape, line and space. The finished colour panels express responses to some of the sensory experiments carried out in the Museum. Also displayed are Haiku, a Japanese formof poem that weaves together seasonal imagery. The Story Makers wrote their haiku in response to objects, images and ideas, exploring the metaphors and meanings contained in their stories.
Miniature Storyboard Diorama
The Story Makers made diorama using miniature models in clay and natural materials to bring to life imagined moments from their inventors’ stories. These three-dimensional sets also functioned as storyboards and were used to design simple prints depicting scenes from the stories. A selection of stories and accompanying diorama are displayed here.