The Beaney House Of Art And Knowledge has selected me for their art in museums commission to produce large artwork inspired by the stained glass Miracle Windows in Canterbury Cathedral, as well as the museum’s collections. It will be included in their Becket 2020 exhibition commemorating Thomas Becket’s death in 1170 and the subsequent pilgrimages and miracles attributed to him.
I’ve been working with two community groups at the museum, Sensing Culture a group of visually impaired and blind people led by Wendy Daws, and Power Of The Object for people and companions affected by dementia or social isolation led by Shelley Morris. We’ve been exploring ideas of hope, pilgrimage, and meaningful objects / talismans. The project is helping the museum to test the positive effects of creative activities on wellbeing, and the collaborations with the art groups and a school will be incorporated into the final window artworks.
The Beaney has a great collection of pilgrims badges and I’ve long been intrigued by these. I love the links with folk charms and milagros of other cultures representing hopes for healing. The whole museum is a fascinating and beautiful place, with a great cultural programme. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to work with them.
For our workshop around Christmas time, I discovered that chocolate coins make brilliant embossing foil. The Sensing Culture group drew beautiful images on the flattened gold discs as they shared their reasons for choosing certain significant objects.
While talking about talismans, I asked them to feel the rings I wear and talk about the symbolic meaning of objects. Plastic bag collaging also proved popular (‘I could do this all day!’), contrasty colours and feeling the shapes they’d cut out worked well. The Power Of The Object group also took well to the plastic bag collages, and had moving stories to share about their lives. I loved meeting both groups and hearing their stories. I’m fusing the plastic collages and will be using them in the window artwork.