Monday 26 January 2009

Curiouser and curiouser

This conference organised by UCA was held at the British Library and involved a series of workshops on innovative teaching methods. I attended three of them, the first was a workshop by Sue Shearer who had been working with a group of blind students at Epsom. We were blindfolded before we entered the room and remained blindfolded throughout the workshop which allowed us to experience some of the problems blind students face. Samples of different fabrics were then handed round for us to feel and we also had to manipulate a piece of paper. It was a thought-provoking experience. I then went to Rebecca Skeels workshop where she described a peer-learning support system she had instituted in the jewellery department at Farnham. The final workshop I attended was Sarah Sutherland’s talk on her experience with non-traditional learners on the MA course at Farnham. As part of this workshop, six of the MA students (including me) had to give short accounts of different technology we use as part of our course. I talked about setting up a blog and how useful it is.

Tate Modern

A trip to Tate Modern was organised for the MA group from Farnham. We all went to the Rothko exhibition, had lunch together, then looked at some of the other galleries. I ha already seen the Rothko exhibition, but it was interesting to see it again and in different company. Looking round the other galleries I was interested in the installation by Victor Grippo ‘Tables of work and reflection’ and the untitled piece by Jannis Kounellis in the Surrealist gallery that includes crows pierced by arrows. I was also very interested in the work of Susan Hiller who trained as an archaeologist and anthropologist and works with collections and produced the installation ‘From the Freud Museum’. This has inspired me to find out more about these three artists.

Designer Crafts at the Mall

This exhibition by the Society of Designer Craftsmen included textiles, jewellery, ceramics, glass, furniture and wood; there seemed to be more textiles than the other categories. The display was good but some of the work seemed little more than samples. My favourite pieces were the witty designs by Caren Garfen, particularly her domestic mugs with sewn messages and teabags containing domestic utensils. Other favourites were Miranda Meilleur’s delicate, lace-like silverware and Alison Levy’s sliced and pierced jewellery. It was useful to be given a catalogue as part of the entrance fee and I thought the sales area where objects could be tried on and purchased was a good idea.

Babylon at the British Museum

This exhibition at the British Museum had the subtitle ‘myth and reality’ and that was the focus of the exhibition. Different areas concentrated on the Hanging Gardens, the Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar, the rivers of Babylon, Daniel and the kings, and Belshazzar’s feast. Many of these subjects were familiar in a vague way but it was interesting to be given more details and place them in a historical context. For example, there was information about the importance of interpreting dreams and Daniel’s role in doing so and about the conquest of Jerusalem and the deportation of the Jews to Babylon. Much of the exhibition was taken up with depictions of these Biblical references from ancient times to the modern day but there were also many artefacts from Babylon including several interesting cylinders of cuneiform script.