I have been on the Developing practice for makers through museum collections course at City Lit. London for the past year. It has been really great and I've enjoyed gaining a new perspective on my own way of working.
The first few months were difficult as we had to choose a collection or museum we might imagine our work being displayed in. Paralysed by the variety of choice I floundered a bit but heard about "Inspired by" -a competition organised by Morley Gallery in conjunction with The V&A. The brief was to make something in response to an item in the collection of either the V&A or the Museum of Childhood. Narrowing the focus was key for me. There was still an immense number of exhibits to choose from so
after a few visits I took to looking at the online catalogue. This was really helpful and I probably looked at the objects much closer and for longer than I would have in the museum where the volume of objects is overwhelming.
Eventually I settled a small layette pincushion from the C18th.
I was fascinated to learn that straight pins would have been used to fasten clothing of even the smallest baby because safety pins were not invented until 1860. The gift of a pincushion would be given after the birth as it was believed that to receive it before would mean more pain in labour. I found that pins they were also thought to be protective and were hidden in a child’s clothing to ward off evil. This protective aspect of the pin made me think of the fears we have for our children not only when they are infants but into adulthood. I chose to use a found item of clothing and placed more than 5000 pins in the lining as little amulets of protection. The tiny jacket becomes a coat of armour but also suggests the dangers and damage caused by over protection.
I find the history of the humble pin fascinating and there is much more to explore ..
I'm following my bliss.