“The True and Perfect Description Of Three Voyages”

Now that my residency, co-hosted by Word and Image Department and Paper Conservation, has come to an end, I wanted to write one last entry. The experience has been an extraordinary one, not least in terms of the generosity that Curators in WID and conservators in Paper Conservation have shown in sharing their time and expertise. I have been led into stores rooms holding miniature stage sets, Indian hand painted flower albums, daguerreotypes, wardrobes of 16th Century gowns, intricate lace patterns from Venice and kimono stencils from Japan. The list could go on and on. Indeed at times, the sheer volume of remarkable material held by the museum has been overwhelming. After several months of exploring hundreds of objects, I began to make connections between some of these objects and particular on-going concerns in my work – ephemeral items, often on paper or vellum, which were intended to be handled and that somehow seemed to communicate a state of flux, being of particular interest. A focus for this selection was further provided by the production the two bodies of work “Gaze” and “Of Dust” and the publications that accompanied their exhibition. Fragment No. 1, 2005. Collage, graphite and pen and ink. Museum no. E.2569-2007 Fragment No. 1, 2005. Collage, graphite and pen and ink. Museum no. E.2569-2007 At present the gallery in which “Gaze” was installed in 2007, is showing another of my drawings – this time as a part of a collection of works acquired by the museum in 2007, “Forty Artists – Forty Drawings.” The Northern Print Biennale opens next month and will include three works from “Of Dust”, whilst one of the first works that I made in response to the V&A’s 19th Century Parkes Collection of Japanese papers, “Thinking about Touching,” can currently be seen at Trinity Contemporary, London, in an exhibition of 34 artists “In Between the Lines – Recent British Drawing”. Installation shot of “Forty Artists - Forty Drawings” Installation shot of “Forty Artists – Forty Drawings” Over a year ago, in the posting “The Temporary Refuge – Again”, I wrote about a book that I’d been searching for amongst the thousands held by the V&A, entitled “The True and Perfect Description of Three Voyages”. The book is a diary, written by a member of an ill-fated 16th century Dutch expedition attempting to find a way to China via the North East Passage. It describes how the crew members lived from day to day, the extreme conditions that they endured and how they built a refuge in which they overwintered for nine months in the Russian Arctic. It was through conversations in the Paper Conservation Studio, that I first learned of the diary – and of the stacks of prints that had been abandoned by the explorers. These stacks were transformed into frozen papier-mâché blocks and remained undiscovered for three hundred years. The Conservation studio at the Rijksmuseum developed ways, through advances in science and conservation, to separate the layers of the prints and reconstruct the thousands of fragments. The prints are now held in the Rijksmuseum stores. I am planning to develop a project in response to this extraordinary story and the Rijksmuseum will stage an exhibition of new works that result from the project in 2011. As it unfolds, documentation can be found on the following websites from 2010:

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