Saturday, January 11, 2014

MShed and Museum visits.

Yesterday afternoon I visited the MShed for the first time. Shameful, but true. I was there to meet the lady who was my contact for a workshop I shall be doing there at the end of the month. This will be a drawing workshop and is part of their Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition event; I shall write a separate post letting you know about that.

The L and MSheds are the old goods transit sheds built after the second world war (in which the previous buildings had been destroyed) in part of the Bristol Dock area. No longer an area for loading and unloading goods from ships, the sheds have been converted for modern use. The Bristol Industrial Museum opened its doors in M Shed in 1977 and the arrival of the National Lottery in the 1990s offered an opportunity for the Industrial Museum to be revamped and for the city of Bristol to gain a brand new facility telling in one place the complex and fascinating history of one of the country's most important cities, both in the past and currently. the Industrial Museum closed in 2006 and the new museum M Shed opened in June 2011. It's a Museum that is about the people of Bristol, both past and present, with items from the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery displayed to bring their stories to life along with computer screen for interactive contributions from the public. 

I had a quick look round prior to my meeting and spent some time listening to recorded readings of peoples diaries or letters referring to the Blitz on Bristol and also enjoyed seeing some of the old transport vehicles and many other artifacts like paintings, photographs, clothing, etc

My meeting was primarily for me to see the room that the workshop will be in and to meet Frances, who is organising the event. I was impressed with the size and light within the room, there is a lovely view over the docks so maybe I could even persuade some to try and sketch the gulls as they bob about on the water outside. We had a chat about basics like room layout and numbers of tables and chairs etc before I then had another longer look around the museum before I needed to head off across the docks and up the hill to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Here I was to meet Bonnie, who looks after the specimen collection. I was being allowed to borrow some taxidermy specimens for the workshop and was here to pick the ones I'd like to use. Bonnie showed me, in a very quick visit, their scientific collection, which was fascinating. I can see why she loves her job. As I walked around whilst Bonnie pointed out interesting specimens and talked of their history and importance to scientists, and how they prepare specimens for use or display after being stored.. I couldn't help but wish to be allowed a day in there to have a good look at the collection... looking at drawers of beetles, butterflies, skeletons and stuffed animals. In many was quite gruesome as it was in fact a room full of dead things, but incredibly fascinating and intriguing. Seeing the massive skull of one enormous hippo, the old Victorian skeleton of an Asian elephant, a mammoth tooth, a polar bear skeleton etc As an artist the insight into the structure of these animals was fascinating.

From there we went to the educational collection which is where I would get to pick my choices of specimens. I was looking for animals with different features on the bodies.. legs, ears, tails, torso, head etc, but also trying to get bigger specimens so that they could be seen easily in the workshop from across the room. I picked 3 birds and 3 mammals, everything else would be too small from the choices I had. I left very excited about the workshop and setting folks the challenges of drawing these items.


No comments: