Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
In 2011 the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) was awarded money though the Art Fund’s RENEW scheme to support its print acquisition programme. Between 2011 and 2013 the museum then purchased 300 works by Black and Indigenous peoples from Canada, South Africa and Australia. Many of these prints now feature in the current exhibition at MAA; the Power of Paper: 50 Years of Printmaking in Australia, Canada and South Africa.
The prints in the exhibition reveal stories of cultural identity, persecution, racial discrimination and history. The commonality of these themes in the works from Australia, Canada and South Africa denote internationally shared experiences that arise from colonial politics. Extending and expanding on these themes and drawing on a history of successful collaborations between MAA and contemporary artists, MAA Director Nicholas Thomas devised the Antipodes project, which also provides the museum visitor with a chance to experience printmaking first hand.
Antipodes is a collaborative project between the Australian Print Workshop (APW) based in Melbourne Australia, and the University of Cambridge Museums. From 2015 until 2016 Nicholas Thomas and Anne Virgo the Artistic Director of APW will curate the project, which will bring five artists to Cambridge from the 8 – 22 March 2015. Anne Virgo and Senior Printer Martin King will be accompanied by contemporary Australian Artists: Brook Andrew, Tom Nicholson and Caroline Rothwell. In Cambridge the artists will have the opportunity to study and respond to cultural, historic and scientific collections relating to the history of exploration and cross-cultural contacts, particularly in Australia and the Pacific region, across the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM). In addition they will consult important contemporary and colonial collections in several London museums. Back in Australia, a second stage of the project will involve residencies at APW, the production of work, and a series of exhibitions. Ultimately the intention is to produce a collaborative folio of prints, which are a response and homage to the illustrated travel albums of the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
Collaboration is an important part of the project and it is hoped that the artists, UCM employees and the public will have multiple opportunities to participate in cross disciplinary and cross cultural conversations and exchanges of ideas that can inform not just how the artists work themselves but how the collections within UCM are interpreted and understood.
With this in mind those interested in meeting the artists or in hearing more about the project can participate in one of two printmaking workshops entitled ‘Printmaking Under the Southern Sun’ which will be held by the artists on the 14 and 21 March at 2pm at MAA as part of the University of Cambridge Science Festival. In this workshop Anne and Martin will demonstrate the traditional art of fine art etching and relief printing and will discuss how these processes (which have been around for half a millennium) are being employed by artists today to produce stunning contemporary works on paper.
In addition on Wednesday 18 March the five artists and Nicholas Thomas will be discussing the Antipodes project in detail at the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London. The free seminar is an opportunity to hear more about the project and to discuss its motivations and possible outcomes with curators and artists.
Ali Clark, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology