West Kent College fine art students team up with Maidstone Museum

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West Kent College’s FdA Fine Art students have teamed up with Maidstone Museum again this year, as part of their vocational and professional Fine Art Practice studies.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the partnership, which aims to give the students a work-based learning opportunity of collaborating with the museum and its staff.

Working to the specifications of the museum staff, the students are required to produce artworks influenced by the myriad ideas generated by the collections, history and even the fabric of the buildings themselves.

This year, the students have created individual pieces of work that are a direct response to the museum’s brief of ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’, whilst also incorporating their own art practice. These are to be exhibited within the larger exhibition of the museum’s colour-themed cabinets of curiosity.

Amongst the student work on display is a piece by Sarah Spence, which features three small effigies of princess Cleolinda who, according to the medieval legend of St. George, offered herself in sacrifice to the dragon to save her people. St. George, of course, slew the dragon and she was saved.

Sarah commented: ‘I wanted to juxtapose what’s in the museum’s basement archive with what is being viewed in the exhibition spaces. I found paintings in the basement depicting Cleolinda and sculpted a figure of her using three different methods: wax and pins, to reflect the preserved insects in the archive; clay fixed together with gold wax, reflecting the kintsugi technique showcased in the museum’s Japanese collection – and PVA, cloth and tissue, reminiscent of Ta-Kush, the mummy that the Museum has on display upstairs in its Egyptian collection.

‘The figures are laid out like cadavers, with the piece being a comment on the male gaze in 17th, 18th and 19th century art – where women were seen as demure, vulnerable, commodities or objects – rather than human beings.’

Other pieces include Lizzie Hill’s sculpture constructed of various ropes, threads and cords, many of which are handmade or found objects from beaches, serving to represent stories and histories woven together. Victoria Casillas’ sculpture takes its inspiration from the textiles and embroidery on the costumes and tapestries in the Latin American wing of the museum. The piece incorporates a poem from 19th century Spanish poet Antonio Machado embroidered into the fabric, and is a comment on the political issues in the Catalonia region of Victoria’s homeland.

The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5pm. For more info, visit: www.museum.maidstone.gov.uk

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