Judith Allen

Student creative

Judith Allen was one of three Student Creatives in the academic year 2019 / 2020. The aim of the initiative was to offer all students at the AUB an opportunity to create work inspired by the MoDiP collection. This could be in any discipline with any creative outcome from physical art work to film or acting production. The MoDiP collection and / or the museum's practices had to be at the heart of the project and the work needed to be displayed either physically or digitally after a period of 20 weeks. A small bursary was provided to assist with material costs during the project and the remainder was paid on completion.

The resident was expected to keep the MoDiP team updated with progress reports on a regular basis either through email or face-to-face. They were also expected to write three blog posts during the process which follow below. The project not only helped MoDiP work closely with an AUB student, it gave the student a live brief and an opportunity to demonstrate their professional practice beyond their academic requirements.

Judith's first blog post

I was incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to be a student creative for MoDiP this year.

When it came to choosing where to do my MA in illustration, MoDiP was one of the main assets that drew me to studying at AUB.

Having a museum with a rich history of design and an extensive collection of fascinating objects right on campus is an incredible bonus to any arts student. It’s like having your own cabinet of curiosities, full of inspiration!

Coming from a background in social anthropology, I’m particularly interested in how objects have meaning to us, the history and stories  behind seemingly ordinary everyday objects, and why we collect the objects we do. 

 

Initial sketches from MoDiP at the beginning of term
Initial sketches from MoDiP at the beginning of term

Working with MoDiP has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to explore this further through my creative practise, whilst also learning how to the development of plastic technology and attitudes to plastic over time has helped to shape the design of different objects over the last century.

My original idea was to explore the stories behind certain objects within the museum by making small polymer clay models of the objects, and placing them in shadow boxes, that had paper cut illustrations showing the story of the object behind them. 

 

Initial experiments with paper cutting and shadow art
Initial experiments with paper cutting and shadow art

However after a little more research into building shadow boxes and several failed polymer clay experiments, I decided to take a more illustrative approach to my project.

My new idea is to create an interactive picture book with pop up and lift the flap elements, exploring the last 100 years of history throughout objects within the museum in a fun and tactile illustrative way that all ages can enjoy! 

 

Sketches Through the Centuries- 1920's objects
Sketches Through the Centuries- 1920's objects
Ink and pencil sketches of early objects in the museum
Ink and pencil sketches of early objects in the museum

This is going to be an exciting experiment that involves me relying on my key skills of observational drawing and painting, whilst also drawing on new skills of book binding and paper craft. I’m excited to bring this project to life and illustrate the stories behind the fascinating objects MoDiP holds.

Judith's second blog post

We are now half way through the MoDip creative bursary and it’s been incredibly exciting to see how my project has changed and grown.

I applied to the bursary with the goal of wanting to use my practise as an illustrator to tell the stories behind the objects within the museum, drawing on my academic background as an anthropologist.

Over Christmas I found the project quite challenging and I have to admit I  was struggling to find a way to create imagery that told the stories behind the objects in a way that added to what MoDiP already had on offer.

However after experimenting with different ideas, making initials sketches of the objects within the collection, and  getting feedback from other people on the MA illustration course, I decided to go back to my roots and take a narrative driven approach.

 

Initial sketches and ideas for illustrations based on the poems
Initial sketches and ideas for illustrations based on the poems

I started writing poetry for each decade from the 1920’s to present day inspired by objects from those decades within the museum. I wrote my poetry from the perspectives of the people who may have used the objects, exploring what the objects meant to them and the symbolism the objects had in peoples lives. I’ve been particularly interested in exploring the  ideas of collection, kinship and memory, and how the objects we choose to collect and hold on to may continue to connect us with significant moments in our lives.

The poems I wrote have then  inspired images that show the objects within the museum in use, rather than just being static still life studies – (Something I was previously doing and wanted to move away from).

 

A work in progress photo of a more developed illustration showing someone using a 1920’s comb and a mirror from the museum
A work in progress photo of a more developed illustration showing someone using a 1920’s comb and a mirror from the museum

I have also drawn on patterns and motifs used on the objects to incorporated through out  my images, for example for one of my illustrations of the 1920’s poem,  I have incorporated the Art Nouveau floral motif found on one of the 1920’s hand held mirrors, and the art deco shape of several of the 1920s combs within the museum, throughout the image.

 

Two of the 1920’s art deco combs from MoDiP that inspired this piece
Two of the 1920’s art deco combs from MoDiP that inspired this piece
1920’s art nouveau hand held mirror, also an inspiration for this illustration

Using this new approach I am also exploring things I am learning on my masters, using this images as a chance to experiment with different media, collage and mark- making.

I’m excited to continue to take this project forward and see how it develops over the next two months!

Judith's last blog post

My time making my project as  MoDiP student creative has sadly come to an end, but It has been such an enjoyable and exciting experience.

Over the course of my time as a MoDiP Student Creative my project has evolved and developed a lot.

 

Flower covered telephone

I was first drawn to the MoDiP Student Creative project due to my background in anthropology and my interest in how the objects we collect tell stories that connect us to our past and to each other.

My focus for the Student Creative project was wanting to find a way to show the stories behind the objects in the collections and how these objects create us to memory, whilst also using different materials and skill sets to those I normally use within my every day illustrative practise.

My original idea was to create a plastic shadow box showing both objects within the museum and the stories behind them. 

After realising that this idea might be quite difficult to execute with the time, budget and experience I had, I took some time to experiment with creating a book of illustrated poems, looking at specific objects from each decade from 1920s until present day.

Whilst this was an exciting way to react with different objects from the museum, after feedback from my tutor I realised I wasn’t experimenting enough with materials and techniques and as a result my MoDiP project work wasn’t as strong as some of the other work I was making for my MA.

I decided to revisit the idea of creating a 3D art piece streamlining my project so I focused solely on one object in the museum - for this I chose the GPO746 telephone from the 1960’s as this was the first object that interested me in the museum. 

 

GPO telephone

I decided to craft a sculpture of the telephone using masking paper and news paper cuttings from the 1960s.

 

Flower covered telephone

I chose to cover it in paper flowers to illustrate how objects can connect us to our roots. I made my flowers inspired by other floral motifs on other 1960’s objects in the MoDiP collections. 

 

Flower covered telephone
Flower covered telephone

This project has been a really exciting opportunity to learn different skill sets whilst drawing inspiration from an amazing collection of objects from within the museum.