A year after we started our Crossing Borders project with the Apna Ladies Group in Rugby, the resulting artworks have gone on display in the Museum and we’re thrilled to see such creative responses to our Getting Here themes of migration, identity and belonging from such a diverse Warwickshire community.
A variety of activities
So much was packed into this project, from curator talks and tours of the Museum to object handling, oral history recordings, and artist-led workshops.
The project began with our curators Jon and Sara showing the group items from the social history, archaeology, and natural history collections that in a broad way all related to migration. Whether it was glacial rocks, non-indigenous plants such as the Gingko Bilbao or migratory birds like the swift, they have all found a home in Warwickshire over the centuries. Personal possessions were also shown and discussed and many in the group wondered who once had owned the teddy bear or worn the sturdy shoes and where they had travelled in their lifetimes.
Encouraged to bring in their own objects
The ladies were encouraged to bring in their own special objects and clothes from home and working with artist Helen Barff, they made colourful Mod-Roc replicas and large-scale group drawings. The clothes were used for printmaking and casting ‘pockets’ that carried imprints and memories of the person that once wore them. The women have such a close relationship with each other that they chose to create a final group artwork based on a migratory bird that travels between all of the countries they associate with: the Common Tern. Weaving strips of fabric cut from old clothes, their original drawings and sections of maps, the bird signifies all that unites them and references the embroidery and other handicrafts they would once have made for their dowries.
Unique handling box
Alongside the bird, prints and casts in the Getting Here display case there is also a unique audio handling box available to access guided by a Museum Visitor Service Volunteer. This allows visitors to listen to the ladies own stories about moving to Warwickshire and get hands on with some of the wonderful artworks they have made.
This project was funded through the West Midlands Museum Development Small Grants Scheme.