Museumaker Commissions Major East Midlands Artworks

By Caroline Lewis | 03 April 2006
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a photograph of an installation of silver objects placed in a woodland

Rebecca Newnham, Seed. © the artist

Nine designers have been commissioned to create artworks inspired by museum collections and buildings as part of the East Midlands creative collaboration, ‘museumaker'.

The £310,000 museumaker programme brings together British craftspeople and 20 museums across the region in a partnership that aims to attract new audiences for both contemporary craft and museum collections.

Commissioned work consisting of four temporary and five permanent pieces will be sited at nine museums in the East Midlands. The temporary works will be installed by April 27 2006 and the permanent commissions by January 2007.

“The museumaker programme is leading the way,” said Arts Council Chair Christopher Frayling. “It illustrates well the importance the Arts Council places on partnerships between the museum and heritage sector and today’s makers.”

A trail of 90 new pieces by Edmund de Waal, strategically placed to surprise and intrigue, has been commissioned for Millgate Museum in Newark. De Waal has also invited groups of local young people and artists to work with him to create an exhibition inspired by objects in the extensive museum stores.

a photograph of a woven and weaved object resembling a nest

Laura Ellen Bacon, Fallen Nest. © the artist

Responding to displays on the history of local crafts like coppicing and basketmaking, Laura Ellen Bacon is making a series of large woven willow and locally coppiced dogwood sculptures. The works are intended to reflect the richness of the collections, which the artist imagines bursting out of the museum.

Rebecca Newnham will create two works for museumaker. Inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Trees design at 78 Derngate, Northampton, ‘Seedlings’ consists of a group of three tall strings of sacked leaf forms. For the launch at New Walk Museum, Newnham is presenting a flower-shaped sculpture in lapis blue mosaic entitled Lotus – again inspired by the museum’s natural history and cultural collections.

Derby Museum and Art Gallery will receive permanent works by Carl Clerkins – fashioned from traditional upholstery which has been morphed in some extraordinary ways. It will live in the gallery holding the world’s largest collection of works by 18th century painter Joseph Wright of Derby – Clerkin’s inspiration.

Pending planning permission from English Heritage, Claire Curneen will fill the empty niche on the exterior of St Mary’s Guidhall, Boston.

a drawing of a buildings with a blob shape emanating from one of the windows

Laura Ellen Bacon, Pouring form: design for Charnwood Museum. © the artist

The ‘smallest museum in the UK’ will get its very own landscaped outdoor meeting space, complete with interactive sculpture that will respond to rain, sun and wind. Robert Frith’s commission is a fresh response to Flintham Museum’s idiosyncratic collections, which celebrate the former village shop and its owner, who kept a daily log of the weather.

A footprint will be the leading motif in 24 Design’s seating space for Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, which houses the world’s largest collection of boots and shoes, reflecting on the town’s past as a centre of footwear design and manufacture.

At Creswell Crags a new visitor centre will be created by architects OMI, who will collaborate with other designers to create the Museum's Education Centre.

The museumaker project is the first time Arts Council England, East Midlands, the East Midlands Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (EMMLAC) and Renaissance East Midlands have worked together.

a photograph of a an interior corner pillar in a building with small ceramic objects lined up across its edge

Edmund de Waal, installation blue and 1. © the artist

“Contemporary crafts can play a significant role in bringing historical collections to life,” said Sir Christopher Frayling. “Makers can offer a new gateway to history, encouraging visitors to engage and learn more about the past. I am sure museumaker will be a creative catalyst for all the partners involved. It should encourage more visitors to museums and provide new opportunities for makers.”

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