Residency in Armagh Museum

I’m turning up on the doorstep of Armagh Museum most weeks now to poke about in their FASCINATING vast collection and draw objects, hear stories and histories from Sean and Sarah, Don, John and Roy. Who sound like a 70s folk group when I see it written out.

Armagh County Museum

For me, the most defining feature of working in the Museum is the cocoon of quiet I can sink into – it’s almost tactile – like ear velvet.

It creates a space that lets stories emerge from the objects I’m drawing

Copper ear trumpet

Drawing is a way of listening – when I’m observing and drawing a piece it’s a feeling akin to running my fingers over it and getting to know every edge, texture and contour. That process is contemplative too, so an inanimate object starts to come alive as I think about the roles it played in everyday lives and what meanings it may have held.

Drawings in museum
Drawings – ear trumpet, collecting ladle and a piece of hair & saffron dyed cloth found in a bog

Since there is almost 30,000 items in the Museum collection, I had to impose a few rules on how I chose the pieces to work with – so I decided to work with an element of chance and intuition, a bit of maths and some time limitations. It’s all about bloody time isn’t it?

Remains of Shoe found in bog with drawing

I gave myself 2 days to dig through the Accession Records in no particular order and make note of whatever items caught my eye.

Now I’m at the stage of getting those objects out of the store and drawing them – I’m doing that in groups of 3 – again randomly picked from my list of 75 (ish).

I like the idea of creating a relationship between 3 disparate objects. Playing around with three elements like building blocks – the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Magic Lantern
Magic Lantern early 20th century
Drawing of magic lantern and eggs
Drawing of magic lantern and eggs
Bird's Nest in Margarine Tub
Bird’s Nest in Margarine Tub

Residency Supported by Armagh County Museum and by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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