Modern sculpture in the Bristol collection: The making of an online exhibition

Posted on by Lauren MacCarthy.

By Fridy Duterloo-Morgan, MA Curating student at UWE

Since January 2017, I have been working in the Fine Art Department at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, mentored by Julia Carver, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. This placement forms part of the MA Curating at the University of the West of England.

I learned about the management of art collections, including cataloguing and the handling and basic cleaning of artwork, but also about the role of the curator in relation to external partners and to other professionals within the Museum, such as the conservator, the registrar and the visitor experience manager.

Images left to right: David, the Preventative Conservator cleaning Nash’s Cracking Box (K5623) with the ‘Museum Vac’. Art handlers Ian and Mike lifting Help (Opus 81), a heavy, polished bronze work by Meadows (N7962).

As part of my final project I have curated an online exhibition featuring sculptures held in the Bristol collection, which forms a collections highlight on the Collections Online website.

Last summer, over half of the sculptures in the Bristol collection were carefully taken from the store. They were checked, lightly cleaned, and photographed from various angles by in-house photographer David Emeney.

Art handlers Ian and Mike suspending Kenneth Martin’s Screw Mobile (N7963) from a broomstick, to be photographed by David.

Ian and Mike suspending Kenneth Martin’s Screw Mobile (N7963) from a broomstick, to be photographed.

From these I made a selection of over 20 sculptures for the online exhibition, and had a number of meetings with Julia to discuss ideas on exhibition themes and narratives. I researched the works and the artists, and their wider art historical context.

With support from Trevor Coombs the Documentation Assistant, the digital images of the sculptures and exhibition narratives were uploaded to the website to form a ‘collection highlight’, showing examples of sculpture in the Bristol collection dating from the early 20th century up to the early 21st century.

The techniques and the materials used for making sculpture are described and illustrated with examples, as well as how sculpture evolved into a three-dimensional art that goes ‘beyond the plinth’, using less conventional materials.

Fridy dusting Epstein’s delicate Hands of Nan (K4961) with a micro-fibre cloth, wearing curator’s gloves.

Fridy dusting Epstein’s delicate Hands of Nan (K4961) with a micro-fibre cloth, wearing curator’s gloves.

A selection of key themes in modern sculpture: architecture, the female nude, movement and motion, and what it means to be human, are also explored.

Showing why artists were inspired and influenced by these themes and how they expressed them in their work, we get some insight into how sculpture changed and evolved from the early 20th century onwards and how they continue to inspire sculptors today.

The majority of the sculptures featuring are not currently on display and now become available to view online for the first time.

Modern sculpture in the Bristol collection was launched on 30 November and can be seen on the Bristol Museums online collection.

 

 

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