|A Case of Discovery
Exhibited at the Nature in Art Museum & Edward Jenner Museum, Gloucestershire
Project duration: January – June 2002
A Nature in Art Museum and Edward Jenner Museum, lottery funded project. As the invited artist leading the project, Sarah Bodman worked with students from Newent Community College; Nature in Art Museum and The Jenner Museum to produce two exhibitions of the students’ works and two unique book works inspired by and for the museum’s Natural History collection. The resulting works were exhibited at both museums during Museums and Galleries Month in the summer of 2002, a national scheme showing how museum collections can be used to inspire young and future artists.
Students from Newent Community College worked on the project from January – June 2000. The Edward Jenner Museum was used as one of the Case of Discovery case studies. The project developed ideas about natural history, using the work of artists and naturalists from the 18th and 19th Centuries as a starting point for making their artworks. The three case studies were: the artist Sarah Stone, the work of Edward Jenner (who discovered the vaccination for smallpox and was a keen naturalist) and the collection of artworks at the Nature in Art Museum, Gloucester. www.nature-in-art.org.uk
The students included both A Level and years 7 and 8 from Newent’s art, ceramics and graphics departments. The project included visits to both of the Museums and to UWE, Bristol to print some of the artworks included in the two final artists’ books.
The project began in January when Sarah visited Newent Community School with examples of her own and other artists’ books. In the same month, 30 students and their teachers visited Nature in Art and spent the day with Andrew Horn and Sarah. They were shown examples of prints, drawings and paintings by Sarah Stone, George Edwards, John Gould and Alexander Wilson. In the afternoon, they were set a project to make a book which reflected upon the morning’s discoveries.
As part of the project, examples of works by painters from early expeditions were shown. In 1687, Hans Sloane took four artists on his expedition to Jamaica, to record several hundred plants and flowers. This botany collection formed the beginnings of the Natural History Museum and can be seen online at http://internt.nhm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/botany/sloane/
One of case study artists discussed was Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844). Stone came from a family of fan painters and at 18 she was spotted drawing species and was commissioned to paint and draw the collection of Sir Ashton Lever for his Museum in London. She was a very talented artist who became famous during her own lifetime, completing over 1,000 detailed studies between the ages of 18 and 21. The State Library of New South Wales, Australia has some examples of Stone’s work online at www.sl.nsw.gov.au/online/pictorial.cfm follow the link to the album of 31 images by Sarah Stone.
In April, the students had a group visit with their teachers and Sarah, to the Edward Jenner Museum, where everyone had an opportunity to look at some of Jenner’s work and personal effects with guidance from the curator Vicky Dawson. Artefacts and works were recorded on digital cameras for some of the students from other years who were also contributing to the project. www.jennermuseum.com
In June, 10 of the students spent a day at UWE, Bristol, working with Dave Fortune, Sarah and their teachers to print some editions of their drawings from the project for the final exhibitions and to make some of the artworks for the two artists’ books.
The project resulted in two exhibitions of the students’ works at Nature in Art and the Edward Jenner Museum, alongside some of Sarah’s artists’ books. As part of the final project, two unique boxed artists’ books were created by Sarah and the students, one jointly held by the two museums to be used in future teaching and collaborative projects and one by Newent Community College. The artists’ book, boxed cases were specially made for the project by Guy Begbie.
This project was very generously supported by Daler-Rowney (thanks to Colin Heathfield) who provided materials to make many of the artworks, and by Inveresk Papers at St Cuthbert’s Mill (thanks to Richard Dixon-Wright) who provided the Somerset Satin artists’ papers for the two large scale artists’ books.