Andrew Motion launches national Museumaker project inside the Royal Pavilion in Brighton

By Richard Moss | 22 June 2010
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a photo of a man speaking from a lectern

(Above) Andrew Motion: "We have to go on arguing the case for the value of these things"

Museumaker, the innovative national craft programme designed to unlock the potential of museum collections through the intervention of craft practitioners, launched its latest programme of national exhibitions at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton last night.

The work of maker Claire Twomey, who fashioned a subtle swarm of 3,000 black ceramic butterflies and scattered them across the sumptuous rooms of the Pavilion, provided the centrepiece for the launch, which sees 16 craft interventions opening in museums in four English regions.

Sarah Leavitt from Leicester Museums, who heads the Museums, Libraries and Archives-funded Renaissance programme in the East Midlands said the programme was a "fantastic national programme."

"Museum buildings and collections are a unique resource for inspiration, imagination, learning and enjoyment," she added. "Museumaker is one of the ways we are breathing new life into collections, reaching out to new audiences so that museums can be truly become places of the muses."

Partner museums in the project include large city institutions, small independent rural museums and two university collections. They include contemporary and historic buildings, such as a guildhall, a former colliery, a lead mine, an almshouse and show piece palaces. The locations stretch from London to Lincolnshire and Northumberland to Sussex.

A swarm of black butterflies framed by windows of a banquet hall

Clare Twomey, A Dark Day in Paradise (detail). Image © Matthew Andrews

As well as Twomey's butterfly creation, Susie MacMurray has installed a maze of golden thread in Kedleston hall, Derbyshire. At Rochester's Guildhall Museum, Cathy Miles is working on a fantasy tool shed, inspired by the world's most complete 18th century tool collection.

The former poet laureate and current MLA chair, Andrew Motion, concluded the speeches with a paean to the endangered world of funded arts projects - such as Museumaker and asked the question why we think these things are important?

"We think they are important because they can be done; it’s like climbing a mountain because it is there," he suggested.

"We have to go on arguing the case for the value of these things and makers have to carry on making these things."

Motion went on to wax poetical about Twomey's piece, calling it an intervention that is "both a reminder of what this building does and what it's about - but also, glamour, chutzpah, brio and all kinds of visual and sensory excitements."

"It's also incredibly timely," he added, reflecting on the Chancellor’s budget and the funding issues the sector now faces.

"We know what's going to happen tomorrow, we know what’s going to happen through the next few years. This is a show called Dark Day in Paradise, but this is probably the last day of paradise before the dark days, and to remind us of what the human spirit is able to continue to do in the way that this show does is remarkable."

For more on Museumaker see www.museumaker.com.

2010 is Year of the Museum in the South East, discover a museum at www.culture24.org.uk/southeast and find out about the Beautiful South campaign at www.visitsoutheastengland.com.

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