The Museum has a long history as a source of inspiration for artists; from the involvement of the Pre-Raphaelites in the building’s construction, to the thousands of art students that visit each year. This year’s closure period has been particularly interesting for one artist, Kate Kay.
Kate, who lives locally in Oxford, is doing a continuing practice course through Ovada, an Oxfordshire contemporary arts organisation.
An architectural background and interest in drawing in large internal spaces led Kate to the Museum. She said “I’m particularly interested in framed structures through which one can see. The Museum of Natural History certainly provides this, with its dramatic and innovative structure, and its remarkable collection of skeletons adding further layers of interest. When I heard that the Museum was to be closed for renovation works, I realised that the scaffolding, and the protective wrapping of the skeletons would add yet more layers.”
During the early part of the year, Kate visited regularly and was welcomed on site by the contractors. With hard hat and high-vis jacket, she was allowed to go anywhere on the site, and she made numerous sketches and took photos. From May she then worked on a very large charcoal drawing (top of this post), incorporating various elements of the Museum and the renovation project in one image. She also produced a work in cut paper (right) combining several ‘see-through’ images. These were exhibited in an end-of-year show at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock.
“Now that most of the scaffolding is down, one can see how the Museum has been transformed. I’ve really appreciated the opportunities that this project has provided, particularly in exploring up in the roof structure. I look forward to drawing in the Museum again, once it’s back in action in the spring, possibly focusing more closely on some of the other exhibits.”
It’s important that this special year of closure has been documented in Kate’s drawings. When we re-open, I hope that more artists than ever will be inspired by the Museum, as sunlight floods through our sparklingly clean roof.
Rachel Parle, Education Officer