MGM 2008 - Painting With Light At Bassetlaw Museum

By Salma Conway | 28 May 2008
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Photo of a hand placing leaves on a piece of light sensitive paper

Pictures made with light sensitive paper and other ways of using light to make art were demonstrated on the day. Photo © Salma Conway / 24 Hour Museum

A month before its doors are due to be reopened following a year-long period of refurbishment, Bassetlaw Museum in Nottinghamshire welcomed visitors on Saturday May 24 for a one-off day of activities exploring the uses of light in art.

Hosted in the museum's sun-filled garden and its newly-developed education room, families and children came along to try a whole range of fun experiments with different forms of light, creating original pieces of art.

Lincolnshire-based artist Garry Ashton was on hand throughout the day to offer creative tips and information on how artists throughout history have used light in their work.

Ashton set up a home-made camera obscura in the garden to demonstrate the way artists like Rembrandt and Van Eyck would use a mirror and a lens to manipulate light and project a three dimensional scene onto flat paper.

Photo of a small girl in an art activity

Photo © Salma Conway / 24 Hour Museum

“This is a very simple version of a device that has been used by a lot of artists," he said. "It's a very useful tool to assist drawing but, like photography, some people view it as cheating.”

Visitors were invited to have a go at painting with light: waving around different coloured glowsticks in a dark room to create abstract shapes. Brightly coloured swirls, zigzags, even people's names suspended in the air were captured on a digital camera an instant before they disappeared. Those who took part could then choose their favourite images and take home printed copies.

Museum staff member Katherine Ashton said: “We thought about the effect you get when you draw shapes in the air with sparklers and decided to try the same technique with glowsticks. It's been a lot of fun.”

Photo of a person with a blanket over their back and their head inside a cardboard structure

The camera obscura. Photo © Salma Conway / 24 Hour Museum

Visitors could also have a go at capturing images using light sensitive paper, making stained glass style pictures with coloured paper and making their own camera obscura or pinhole camera.

Rachel Walters from Retford brought daughter Megan (5) along to enjoy the activities. “My daughter loves this sort of thing," she said. "It's great for kids, especially doing things like posing for photographs with the glowsticks. We haven't been to this museum before, but we might be more likely to come again now.”

Photo of a Georgian building

Bassetlaw Museum. Photo © Salma Conway / 24 Hour Museum

Although still closed for refurbishment, Bassetlaw Museum is set to reopen on June 21 2008. As well as the addition of new sections such as the education room and a new rural heritage centre, the 18th century townhouse has been restored to its original decorative scheme. This was uncovered by taking small sections of plaster from the walls and examining them under a microscope to see the different layers of paint.

“It's such a beautiful building," said museum curator Samantha Glasswell. "We could have simply restored it as a house, but what we've tried to do is reveal as much of the house as possible but still have somewhere to display the collections.”

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Salma Conway is one of our three Renaissance East Midlands arts writers, reporting on MGM 2008 events all over the region for the whole month of May. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

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