- Date: 2 January 2013
- Artform: Museums
- Area: National
museumaker was a prestigious national project involving 16 museums across the country. The programme encouraged museums and makers to collaborate by providing financial support and expert advice, which enabled them to draw on each other's rich resources, take creative risks and trial new ideas.
For this museumaker project, artist Laura Thomas designed architectural glass for Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury.
The Beaney comprises Canterbury City Council's main art gallery and museum, and the Kent County Council-run Canterbury Library. Founded in the late 19th century, it houses a rich and diverse collection including decorative arts, paintings, world cultures and natural history.
museumaker provided a national commissioning opportunity that would attract high calibre makers who might not otherwise respond to a call for proposals.
The brief was to use glass to create a visual link between the Beaney's historic Tudor-bethan building and its dramatic new extension. A public consultation found that the building was seen as old and drab, in part because it is dark, so the commission was an important opportunity to add colour and light.
Laura Thomas proposed creating large-scale versions of her recent work encapsulating open-weave coloured threads in Perspex. Architects, Sidell Gibson, proposed that she create new panes for an existing tripartite window that would be part of the junction wall between the old and new building. The panels were made in warm reds and oranges, colours which reference the historic stained glass in the old building. Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz, Art and Exhibitions Manager at the Beaney, said the commission exceeded their expectations.
The team found the main challenge with the process was slotting a commission into a building schedule already in progress and involving a wide range of partners. Arriving at an agreed location and design took time, as did getting measurements from windows that were part of a construction site.
The community engagement strand of the project was led by artist Neil Kelly and had two main elements:
The Beaney used a two stage contract with Laura since the form of the installation was not clear from the beginning. Krystyna valued the advice from central team, but felt there were too many layers of administration in museumaker. She found there was some duplication in layers of reporting and some micro management. However, Krystyna emphasised that museumaker had been well worth doing, despite the administration.
The legacy from the project was:
Copyright Annabel Jackson Associates Ltd and museumaker, June 2011. Not to be reproduced in part or whole without prior permission. Website: www.annabeljacksonassociates.com