29th & 30th August 2019: Research Trip/Holiday – Bristol

More the holiday bit of our trip in Bristol, we did some sightseeing (and drank an enormous amount of cider!) but there were a few things I thought might be relevant to my research. One was a ruin of a church, where I noticed a small, tapped up sign with some contact details asking people for suggestions about what to do with the ruined church. This got me thinking about ruins and reuse, not wanting to rebuild but to turn what remains into something else and acknowledge the story and decay of the building.

We also visited the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. It was pretty typical in its approach to display; municipal museums are usually heavily aimed at children and families. I liked the haptic display about paint techniques on different surfaces – especially how worn through it was from all the people touching it, traces of a simple, momentary action accumulated over time to affect the material.

There were also two temporary exhibitions on display, both with an ecological theme.

The first was an installation and film about illegal egg collecting. What I found incredible was the space having boxes and boxes of eggs, all of which were handmade copies of real eggs – something I didn’t even realise until I read the information panel! The quality and attention to detail was simply staggering, I had to get incredibly close to see the brush marks of the paint and even then, it wouldn’t have been noticeable unless you knew what to look for. Again, I was thinking about the ‘authentic’ object and how copies placed into spaces can invoke a feeling of authenticity – how sometimes the ‘genuineness’ of the original object is reduced to almost nothing, it’s the context that gives it meaning – I’m reminded of Latour & Lowe: The Migration of the Aura or How to Explore the Original through Its Fac Similes.

The second piece (and I’m not even sure if this was an ‘artwork’) was a very simple intervention in the taxidermy collection – covering extinct or endangered specimens with black cloths. A simple thing but I found it quite thought provoking – and made me think that museum interventions need not be complex in order to carry a complex message.

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