As part of our external project, we have been given the opportunity to work with a selected client on a professional brief they have proposed. For this, I have chosen to work with the Royal Engineers Museum and Archive (REMLA), where I have been given the chance to work within the museum to produce a piece of work that responds to the environment. The Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive is a military engineering museum and library in Gillingham, Kent; that “tells the story of the Corps of Royal Engineers and how they have helped the British Army live, move and fight for over 300 years”. My decision to work as an artist in residence for the museum was based mostly in an interest in its archival material, as the museum contains a vast collection of photographs, diaries and journals that “covers the history of the Corps of Royal Engineers from its origins to the present day.” (Re-museum.co.uk, 2017)
For our first week on this project, we were introduced to Deputy Curator (Collections Management), Danielle Sellers who gave us a tour of the museum and a quick summary of its history, as well as highlighting some of the key items within the collection. Additionally, we were also given our first introduction to the library and archive, where we could begin engaging with the material available, and start formulating an idea of which references would be helpful for our project development. Based on this, my working proposal has been focused on investigating the personal histories of the Royal Engineers, looking through their diaries and journals to try and get a sense of who they were and what they’ve experienced. My intention for this project, is to highlight these narratives and to give them a sense of familiarity that engages an audience to reflect on the Royal Engineers as individuals, rather than as a collective. I think that often it is easy to forget that each of these artefacts have a history, and that the people who engaged with these materials had their own personal narratives. With this in mind, during my first week at the Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive, I began collecting material from specific individuals, that I planned to bring together in order to illustrate an idea of who these people were and what they’ve experienced.
Within this development, I also began looking at the work of artists such as Sanna Dullaway and Jordan Lloyd, who work with colourisation to change how we view old black-and-white images. For my own project, I felt that using colourisation as a technique would be a relevant process, as it brought forward a sense of familiarity to the images that correlated with how I wanted the work to be engaged with. Moreover, by using this technique I would have to work with the museum collection to begin researching which colour palettes would be relevant to the period of the material I was using. Alongside this, I also began researching more archival/collage-based work, such as Ellen Nolan’s ‘Nita’ and the work of Peter Beard, to start developing an idea of how I could bring these different elements together in my final piece.
Re-museum.co.uk. (2017). Royal Engineers Museum | It’s bigger than you think!. [online] Available at: http://www.re-museum.co.uk [Accessed 20 Sep. 2017].