The Sacred and The Mundane
Dawn Brooks Jade Montserrat Steven Potter
Susan Slann Susan Timmins Karen Thompson
with film and photography by
Sat 12th April – Sat 17th May 2014
Thurs to Sat, 11.00 am – 4.00 pm
Admission is free
Most of us accumulate all sorts of bits and pieces – souvenirs to mark family occasions, holidays, friendships, special events, memorable experiences; postcards, photographs, gifts, books, notes, trinkets, letters and the like. These assorted remnants offer clues to our cultural background, circumstances, history and identity, reflecting our range of interests, activities, preferences, aspirations and things that happen to us by design or chance.
We tend to value and preserve some things more carefully or consciously than others, and our methods vary according to character, disposition and means influenced by the technology of the day. Some derive satisfaction from systematically editing and filing photographs or mementos in albums, or recording the minutiae of daily thoughts and experiences in diaries or blogs, perhaps sharing these with the world. At the opposite extreme, others give little thought to cataloging an ever-increasing conglomeration of stuff in their possession. Whatever our tendency, whether veering towards order or otherwise, it will reveal as much about us as the content itself. Personal taxonomy can, arguably, be more interesting than formal and professional methods adopted by those repositories dedicated to research, collection, conservation, classification, interpretation and display.
The postcard, bus ticket or scribbled note that falls out of a book, marking a forgotten pause in our reading, can revive powerful and vivid memories of an experience long since buried in our subconscious. Nobody else has access to these associations and, if we choose to reminisce and share our story then memory and association is translated into history and its interpretation. If personal possessions are imbued with associations, which reside uniquely in our memories, this gives rise to a fascination and poignancy in speculating on the origins, purpose and history of items encountered within formal museum contexts. Objects presented as such are, of course, removed from their original context. Their ability to function as intended no longer really operates. Interpretation through classification may be an attempt to redress the loss of context or function and to plug the gap where memory and association might occur.
This exhibition brings memory and association to the fore as an alternative way to reinterpret a small number of objects from Scarborough Museums Trust’s collection, selected by six artists and myself. Each person chose independently, with no predetermined notion of the range or type of items to be brought together. The resulting ‘collection’ is assembled and displayed through an approach reminiscent of the Surrealist technique, ‘the exquisite corpse’, rather than attempting to epitomise a museum collection.
A single work by each artist is included, but not placed adjacent to their selected object, to underline the aspect of visual association in curating the exhibition. We have commissioned film and photography by Webb-Ellis especially for this exhibition. Stuart Cameron, Director of Crescent Arts We are grateful to Scarborough Museums Trust for their assistance by allowing access to their collection, thereby enabling us to present this exhibition to coincide with Museums at Night 2014.