So, for the last few weeks, I have been an Artist in Residence at my local - Erewash Museum. It's a museum local history and a lovely place.
Because I love a challenge (!!!), when I applied, my proposal was that I would ask the museum to set my brief - select an room, area or object from their collection for me to base my project around - I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I knew that if I chose what I was doing, I would most certainly have picked something that fit what I already do.
So, after discussion with the Museum manager, it was decided I'd do the Death Pennies that had recently been acquired - sent over after being discovered in the archives of the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada. They were undocumented, and a collections officer did a little digging, found that the family originated from Ockbrook in Derbyshire and they donated them to our local museum.
These death pennies, or their official title, Next of Kin Memorial Plaques, are a rare brother and sister pair, and there is a lot of provenance for them.
I ended up being intrigued by the 'back stories' surrounding these. Edwin, who died at the Battle of the Somme, had written letters home that were all very jolly and "oh life's not so bad here" compared with his brother Frank who wrote a war journal which tells the much more gritty reality. So I made a range of samples which took snippets from these letters and diaries, did (unusually for me) a large drawing and also made a large glass death penny (the originals are bronze).
This large one isn't what I intended, as there's much more detail in the real ones and we simply ran out time to make a faithful representation so this is more of an interpretation. I want to make a copy that the museum can leave out on display that can be touched and felt. The bronze ones are too special and must stay in the cabinet, but they're wonderful to hold - precious, and yet robust - rather like glass!
Anyway, here's a few snaps, opening night was this Tuesday , I was under a lot of time pressure due to a combination of moving goalposts, selfish other people and technology against me! But I managed to get it done, with a few hours to spare.